African Global Networks (AGN)

Arts View

Moses Ibanga

Moses Ibanga – conceptual and revolutionary artist…

Moses originates from Akwa Ibom state in Southern Nigeria and is of the Ibibio ethnic group.

As a child he grew up in the midst of family members who were artists and of course this had an impact on him.  He recalls as a young boy a friend took him to visit the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) in Enugu. 

His visit to the institute coincided with a time when he was going through a lapse in his artistic endeavours, however, he was bowled over by the awe inspiring works at the institution and it was then that the desire was ignited within him to pursue an artistic career.

He went on to study Fine and Applied Arts at University of Nigeria, Nsukka in Enugu.  He is a fulltime studio artist and his works span painting, writing and sculpture.

It was while at university that he was to meet his greatest inspiration, his lecturer Prof, Chike Aniakor.  Moses considers Prof Chike, Aniakor to be a genius and sites the professor’s personality as well as his first rate grasp of the subject matter as defining factors.  In Moses opinion these are the things that made the professor stand head and shoulders above others.

The life of a struggling artist is a story that resonates the world over.  Things are no easier in Nigeria and Moses sites low patronage domestically as a factor that doesn’t help the life of local artists. 

Despite the evident challenges artists face he feels things are improving.  There are far more art fairs and initiatives around the business of art than ever before.   Most of these initiatives are being spearheaded by the private sector.  He commends Lagos State government for taking the lead in driving things forward, as far as government engagement is concerned.

As an experienced practitioner he is able to navigate the national and international arts scene more easily, this is resulting in sales both domestically and abroad on a relatively even basis.

Despite his own success Moses is acutely aware there is far more talent in Nigeria and Africa as a whole than there are adequate resources to reward those pursuing a career in the arts.

Nevertheless he doesn’t advise against pursing a career in the arts.  He says youngsters considering life as an artist should go all out, undaunted and unrelenting.  Reflectively he feels patience and humility will help an aspiring artist progress along the sometimes difficult and challenging path most must navigate.

When he is not working Moses likes to unwind by playing football, jogging or listening to music.  He cites family as being very important to him.  He says ‘family is like a spring where my soul gets refreshed’.

Moses sees himself as a conceptual and revolutionary artist and describes his artistic process thus, ‘as an artist my art starts within, a process which I regard as a journey; incubated within. The sometimes antipode of mind and heart brought into alignment, and only then, like the morning sun, breaks forth to give rays to the living… a new work is born’.

Sometimes the struggle really is within.  When asked how he squares sticking to his artistic principles with the pragmatic need to produce commercial work to put bread on the table he replies “it’s like a daily ritual which l sacrifice on the alter of integrity”.

We end by talking about his plans for the future.  He feels there is a need to do more to nature young artists.  He would like to be in a position to enable more youngsters to visit his studio and other such facilities and to develop projects and programmes that will support their development.

He was honoured to be appointed co-curator for the recently concluded annual ‘Life in My City Art Festival’ (LIMCAF) in Enugu (
www.lifeinmycityartsfestival.org).  A festival dedicated to celebrating the creativity of young talent in Nigeria across the arts landscape.

The path to sustaining oneself as an emerging artist may well be rocky for most.  It seems with people like Moses Ibanga around some may just have an experienced hand to turn to in order to help smooth out the edges.

© 2019 All rights reserved – African Global Networks (AGN) – December 2019

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