Artist statement about the works titled “you froze the birds and you light my fire”
The second series of works within the exhibition features six characters, three men and three women, in a willingly repetitive pose and look. The figures are mirroring and facing one another, alluding to romantic meetings between man and woman. Here, the artist relies on the aesthetic of the Nollywood Igbo movies, in which the female character and object of desire, recurrently meets her lover, whilst occupied in a bucolic activity like fetching water from the river. Ojingiri paints the three women as beautiful as his idea of an Omidan: the ultimate beautiful woman in ancient Yoruba culture, expressing youth, innocence, and purity. The repetitiveness stems from the artist’s placement of this romantic rendezvous at Igbo Ora: the town in Oyo State, Nigeria, with the highest rate of twin births in the world. He uses this duplicity to express a sense, he said, of subtlety: “They look alike but they are different persons, this gives them a subtle and intriguing look”.
In this series, the female figures’ skin tone thickens through an intense dark blue, and that of the male’s burns in a bright incandescent yellow. The indigo ultramarine blue backgrounds, always naturalistic, come alive with creatures such as birds and monkeys. The artist associates the birds, here The Anambra Waxbill, the Ibadan Malimbe, and Jos Indigo, with female sexuality, while the monkey, specifically the Drill Monkey, one of the world’s rarest species of animals and inhabitants of the Nigerian forests, with the male sexuality. Bridging into the other series, here too the vegetation is comprised of plants native to Nigeria.