Gerald Chukwuma Nigeria, b. 1973

Overview

Gerald Chukwuma (b. 1973) is one of Nigeria’s fastest rising contemporary artists noted for his intricately crafted wood-slate sculptures. Using a multitude of techniques, his unique approach to burning, chiseling, and painting common materials captures a richly layered history imbedded with personal and political meaning. The use of traditional Uli and Nsibidi symbols links his work to the Nsukka art tradition which expanded and modernised the Igbo cultural aesthetic. Meanwhile, the transformation of object into highly detailed artworks roots him firmly in the contemporary moment of rapid environmental and ecological change.

In his work spanning paintings, sculptures and collage, Chukwuma explores migration as a constant process of transformation and reinvention. Considering the implications of globalisation on his local community, Chukwuma transforms everyday materials to render new stories of Nigeria’s socio-political landscape. The artist his drawn to the movements of people through voluntary and forced migration as a vital stage in the progress of our collective humanity. This sense of optimism imbues his work with playfully illustrative characters drawn from a wide variety of visual forms present in Nigeria’s deep cultural history.

Typical of the artist’s detail driven approach, these works interweave a personal intimacy, the artist hand-crafts work, but they refer to global context of time, trade and travel. Some works appear as aerial views of road networks and urban landscapes, however upon closer inspection the surface appear to be collaged images constructed from sim-cards sourced from local communities. These are the very same communities that appear in the woodcarvings as symbols of urban societies galvanised by the realities of globalisation and coloured by internal and external conflicts.

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Biography

Gerald Chukwuma's art explore migration as a constant process of transformation. Working with his signature upcycled aluminium battered wood carvings and installations, he creates works that reflect the joys, struggles and erosion of culture and language as it grinds in the mortar of globalisation through richly illustrated depictions of stories, myths and legends. He tells his story using the uli and nsibidi patterns in a refreshing way. Laden with personal and symbolic meanings, they speak to our human desire to communicate with each other and share stories about who we are, where we have come from, where we may be going, and most importantly what we are saliently becoming.

Gerald's audacious and inherently dramatic pieces explore creative opportunities locked in certain waste materials and the possibilities of creating narratives and emotional contents that allude to notions such as globalisation, decay, movements, slavery, culture and history. The entire demeanour of his art which he has exhibited widely in many parts of the world including nigeria, the united states of america, united kingdom, denmark, turkey, netherlands , south africa and berlin is majestically severe, forceful, unrelenting, colourful, abrasive, playful and even imposing.

In 2008 and 2011, gerald emerged as one of the top three winners in the reputable national art competition. His art was featured in the cable news network, cnn's inside africa in 2011 and the new york times art review in 2019. His works are in the collections like the university of nigeria nsukka, beth rudin de woody usa, the hague netherlands, eston capital/john friedman collection , pan african university lagos, seth dei collection accra, the world bank collection washington d.c., yemisi shyllon museum lagos.

Gerald cultivated his aesthetic at the university of nigeria, nsukka where he earned his art degree summa cum laude.

 

 

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