Oddbod & The City: Family, Art & Lockdown – Isaac Emokpae’s In My Father’s House

Last Saturday afternoon found me adulting hard—I took myself off to check out an art showing from one of my favourites, Isaac Emokpae.
I have said it once and I will say it again: I am positively fascinated by the workings of the creative mind. The ability to innovate, initiate, open hearts and minds to new perspectives and evoke emotion is surely up there with a Marvel superpower.

When I asked Isaac when he knew he was going to be an artist, AKA a superpowered being, he responded, “being a second-generation artist, I would say from day one. My father had a wonderful saying which I reiterate anytime I’m asked, ‘I didn’t choose art; rather, art chose me.’ I had an epiphany at the age of two when I saw my dad sketch something and I realised then and there that this was what I would always be happy doing.”

Anyways, back to me making my way to the new space, Gallery at The Landmark. I had a quick look around and Isaac has put together a powerful, strongly emotive collection for his fourth solo outing. I thought it best in the name of columnist matters to go straight to the source for further information about his work.

Tell us about this collection?

The exhibition is titled In My Father’s House. It’s a collection of 18 mixed media pieces that loosely tell a story of nostalgia for me centred around my memory of God my Father, my earthly father [the] late Chief Erhabor Emokpae, OON, and the highlights of their inspiration in my life.

Why did you create this artwork with these particular media?

I wanted to fuse the various materials I have been widely associated with. I used oil on canvas, stained plexiglass, aso oke, gilding paint and acrylics in varying quantities. I believe that each piece had to be told in a way that best highlights the subtle nuances that inspired the work.

Most of us are languishing in this post-lockdown world. How did you find the inspiration to flourish?

This took a while and like so many of us, I had to deal with a surge of negative media, and it was quite hard to channel anything through all the noise of 2020. The solution for me was to look inwards and cast my mind back to a place of joy and safety. The memory of what I truly considered valuable was a way out of the deluge of sorrow and foreboding that this pandemic brought.

What is your favourite piece in this collection and why?

I don’t have an outright favourite. However, I will pick The Basis of Everything. It is a set of abstract figures that represents a family secluded in unity. This season has shown us the value of the family unit as a vital aspect of hope and stability.

Why did you choose to work with this gallery?

It was kismet. It came as providence and I responded. The Gallery at The Landmark is a brand-new space with a wonderful ethos for what art should be and I’m excited to be associated with them and have their maiden show.

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