About the book
The book Duke Asidere’s Sketches and Therapy by Dozie Igweze is a compilation of sketches done by the artist between 2003 and 2006 while resident in Ogwuashi-Uku, Delta State. The sketches were an attempt to explore and come to terms with the emotional difficulties he had to deal with at the time.
The author creates some context for these sketches by providing information about Asidere’s art, his work processes, his locations and his motivations.
About the artist
Asidere was born in Lagos in 1961. His father was a sailor with the Elder Dempster company while his mother ran the household. The early influence of his mother would play a significant role in his art – his depiction of women as strong, powerful, wise figures.
His passion for art started in Secondary school in Lagos. He enrolled in the art department of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, then flourishing under the guidance of Gani Odutokun. Learning in the intellectually vibrant atmosphere of the ABU art school encouraged his aversion for conformity. He graduated in 1988 with a 1st class degree and stayed on to do a Master’s degree in art.
His next stop was The Federal Polytechnic Auchi. He joined the school’s art department in 1990. Along with Ben Osaghae and Sam Ovraiti, Asidere would play a major role in putting Auchi firmly on the Nigerian art map. The Auchi artists worked together and influenced each other The result of this osmosis was a group that gloried in colour. For them colour subjugated form, structure – everything else. It was to be enjoyed, celebrated. His art would blend the intellectual curiousity of Zaria and the exuberance of Auchi.
In 1995, Asidere returned to Lagos where he has remained. Gregarious, opinionated, impulsive. Painting, drawing and dragging other artists along when he can to create art about Lagos and its inhabitants.
For Asidere, the sketches were aimed at capturing fleeting moments and quickly documenting emotional states. Any attempt to render them on canvas would dilute the intensity of his emotions. Hence, he opted for the spontaneity of pencil on paper. He wouldn’t want to lose even a second in putting down his ideas for his viewers.
The sketches, as therapeutic outlets, are no preambles to bigger works. They are indeed, fully formed artworks. The artist has always treated sketches as the end products. He lets the viewer into the true state of his mind with the sketches he called “The Empty Room” series, in which he depicted the room he stayed in while at the Delta State Polytechnic. The sparsely furnished room had only a mattress on the floor, a picture on the wall and few other items.
This room reflected the loneliness and emptiness of his life at the time while he sketched what flitted through his mind on paper as though he was writing them down in a diary. Or, perhaps, they could be described as a travel journal since they share the artist’s experiences on the road.
The artist also used some of the sketches as post-mortems of his already completed artworks. With them, he, so to speak, revisits his original oil paintings in the form of sketches. He mulls over the figures, mulling over how he could have done things differently, like change some of the colours.
His figures seethe and froth with so much energy and vitality, evoking movement rather than passivity. Through them, he tells his story of the country, which for him is one of hope, love, desperation, optimism and despair. With them, he decries the dysfunctional society he lives in and operates from. The viewer not only discerns the emotional impetus behind them, but also identifies with some of these emotions.
-The Midweek Magazine