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Oreze Art exhibition opens as Onitsha marks Ofala Festival

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THE seventh Ofala Festival of Obi Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe of Onitsha ancient kingdom commenced yesterday with the Oreze Art Exhibition and other   fun-filled artistic activities that x-ray the cultural heritage of  Ndi Igbo, particularly Onitsha.

In his welcome address, the Obi of Onitsha, Nnaemeka Achebe, traced the origin of modern arts in South Eastern Nigeria to late Prof. Ben Enwonwu, Okechukwu Odife, amongst some others. He reminded guests of the place of arts in the society. “….. The purpose of the Ofala is to encourage the world to see the beauty of arts from the Nigerian perspective. It is an avenue to progressively take Onitsha to the outside world and also bring the world to the shores of Onitsha,” he said.

He further hinted the audience of the activities that will run through the four-day event which will end on Sunday and assured that it would be  memorable.

Also speaking at the opening  ceremony, a  Professor, Art  History and Theory from University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) , Prof. Frank Ugiomoh, expressively underscored the  need for  indigenous artists to take advantage of local contents to represent their  abstract thoughts. He supported his view by sharing an original story of his final year project that got the attention of an elderly passer-by who recommended that his artworks be displayed in a reputable shrine in Benin, Edo State.

He encouraged stakeholder and professional artists to imbibe a culture of exposure, “…..An exhibition put together by a curator tells a great significance of the impact of arts to society. A work of art simply tells the time and space of a dispensation. It helps one to appreciate and understand his environment better.”

While fielding questions on the sidelines, Ugiomoh explained the story behind most creative works.

“The work of arts is impressionable and has a hidden under meaning. The work of art is an embodiment of learning. Many of us come to an exhibition like this and when you see a work, you get to admire it because of its beauty.”

He continues; “Sometimes the artist does not know the meaning of the work he does, though he is inspired by a much powerful force.  Sometimes, he does not even know the story that inspires him to create the work. However, he combines the time and space to compose a relative message either by painting, sculpting, or pictures. Interestingly, the beauty of an artwork does not lie in its beauty alone; it’s symbolic and carries a deeper message.”

George Edozie, the curator, while addressing guests and art lovers explained the reason behind this year’s edition of the Ofala.    According to him, the theme, “The Other Side”, tells a great deal of the arts that are showcased in the gallery and also gives a clue to the cultural activities that follow through the week. He emphasised the need for artists, especially in South East region to seek exposure to the international market so that their works can be highly valued.

Edozie thanked the Obi of Onitsha for his immense contributions to the development of arts and culture in the society.

He said this year’s edition of Ofala festival would  behold 250 artists’ catalogue from various artistes in Nigeria and the  diaspora.

“Oreze 7th edition is geared to create public appreciation, enlightenment;  hence works from various artist in the globe will be showcased and this will go a long way to tell the world a different story of the Western Africa.”

On the same note, Regional Activation Manager, Globacom, Noel Udeme, opined that culture is a people’s  heritage. He said that the telecommunication giant, Globacom, was fulfilling its corporate social responsibility by supporting the organisers of the landmark event; “…to add to our support, we plan to give tricycles to our subscribers based on a raffle draw on the grand finale. This is to empower and support the programme.”

Highlights of the event will include a roundtable discussion titled: “The Role of Arts in Community Growth and Development,” carnival displays, cultural dances from different troupes, raffle draw, among others.

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