The artist says of her artwork...; Viewers largely label me under "Contemporary African Art". I label my work as Igbo Vernacular Art. The reason for this is that I believe that I have created a truly original body of work that exists outside formal academic or Western dialogue. My art is drawn from life itself and deeply anchored in a place and culture from which it was derived. This is the Igbo culture pertaining to the Igbos of Nigeria. I think that this description is more accurate as it implies a unique iteration of customs and tradition, bound to a particular location and a particular people.
Igbo Vernacular Art is not to be mistaken with Folk Art, but rather, concerns itself with an expressive aesthetic that would be more commonly associated with Contemporary of Modern Art; form, composition and narrative. Vernacular dialects are anchored to a particular land, and in much the same way, my art contains a vocabulary that is built on a strong sense of place and is situated in a location and a history.
It is my hope that one day, my work will be included in art historical dialogue about Africa and specifically Nigeria, beyond the confines of the wide-reaching Contemporary African Art designation.
REWA was born and raised between Nigeria and England and received a BSc. in Physiology and Pharmacology from University College London (UCL). She previously worked as the Head of Corporate Development and Investor Relations for a Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listed company. Prior to this, she was the Specialty Insurance Executive for Old Mutual West Africa and a Management Consultant at Accenture (UK).
Never having received formal art training, she is self-taught and developed her innate talent from a very early age. Growing up, her father encouraged her creative drive, his expansive art collection from West Africa, providing further impetus for her development. Her formal training as a physiologist / pharmacologist at UCL also prepared her for what has become an exciting journey; she learned to observe in greater detail and to seek deeper meaning.
She knew a few truths about what ignited a frenzy - when going for long stretches creating art with a particular song or artist playing on a continuous loop - but still sought a clear "artistic direction'. She finds that her spirit is moved by what she refers to as 'depicted sentience' and through the celebration of the female form and bright, vivid colours. Her preferred medium of acrylics and watercolours on cartridge paper provides the immediacy, proximity and transparency to express her most personal experiences and influences living between Lagos, London and Johannesburg, cities she considers home.
REWA decided to pursue art as a form of catharsis following a nadir. She created her first 14-piece body of work, The Pantheon, celebrating Nigerian deities which was very well received and led to her appointment as ReLe Gallery's 2017 Young Contemporary in Lagos, Nigeria. In this same year, the prestigious Gallery of African Art (GAFRA) in Mayfair, London invited REWA to participate in a joint exhibition, Her Story: Sisterhood That Transcends, alongside a acclaimed Dutch photographer, Dagmar van Weeghel. Her collection, Onicha Ado N'Idu delved into the significance of naming rites and traditions within the Igbo culture in Nigeria - how the names shape the identity of the individuals they are bestowed upon.
REWA's work was featured at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) in Brooklyn, New York as part of MoCADA's annual 2017 gala. Most recently, she participated in the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery's No Dead Artists 22nd Annual show in New Orleans, USA.
REWA's artwork represents and glorifies women in our numerous forms; as goddesses, as travelers and most recently, as inexorable forces behind naming rites of the Igbo culture.
She has finally found her truth in a voice that is unique to her, one that has induced prolonged frenzies and abundant hours of introverted happiness and zen. For REWA, art creation is synonymous with catharsis and her creations are her life's diary.