Imal Silva’s Ode to existence for exhibition — arts — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

With preparations in full swing for his highly-anticipated solo show at the prestigious Turkish Embassy in Abuja, titled, An Ode to Existence, Imal Silva seems primed to make a remarkable comeback onto the local art scene’s radar. This seasoned 53-year-old artist, originally from Sri Lanka but with 43 years of rich experience living and creating in Africa, particularly, Nigeria, has been a significant contributor to the flourishing local creative community. As for his upcoming show, it promises to be a highlight of the local artistic calendar this year.

Indeed, as he disclosed in a recent video interview with an aspiring filmmaker, a few other meticulously prepared shows are set to follow in the footsteps of the exhibition planned to be held at the Turkish Embassy from June 6 to July 6. These meticulously prepared upcoming events, beginning with the first, aim to attract art audiences both within and outside of Nigeria. Following that, he plans to work on a large project as part of the Women Creative Summit in partnership with his acclaimed co-founded organisation, Treasure for Life AGH.

Notable supporters include the renowned Terra Kulture in Lagos and the Businessday Foundation. This web of collaborations, which has the additional endorsement of the Minister of Arts, Culture, and Creative Economy, Hannatu Musa Musawa, offers a showcase of talent and ingenuity that is bound to make an indelible impression. “We hope to bring together female creatives—those who have exceptional achievement and those who are emerging talents,” he explains. 

Back to the upcoming show, which will be curated by the renowned Turkish female curator, Beste Gürsu. The spotlight will shine brightly on sustainability, a recurring motif in Silva’s artistic endeavours in recent years. “It’s a pretty common as a subject among most creatives right now,” he says. “But I have been passionate about this for years and have done quite a few things surrounding this concept. And it is because of a personal conviction and understanding that every decision we make has to have a balance; the balance in our decision-making involves the cultural and social aspects of every decision, the environmental impact, as well as the economic factors in our lives.”

A failure to find this balance, Silva continues, makes it difficult to achieve long-term development and success. “While working, I have done quite a few things around this concept of ‘sustainability.’ I believe that last year, this year, and next year will be the culmination of those projects I have worked on, including exhibitions and some writing that will showcase my perspectives and perceptions.”

Collectively, the University of Ibadan and the Enterprise Development Centre at Lagos Business School graduates earnestly wish for a heightened appreciation within the creative community for their invaluable contributions to society.

Their collective aspiration, he stresses, should bear the weight of a shared desire for inclusivity, paving the way for a broader, more impactful experience.

As they delve deeper into the profound musings of existence, they ponder the riddles of human life, purpose, and the intricate interplay of actions and meanings that define the very human essence. Embracing a philosophical lens, they navigate the labyrinth of intent, questioning the essence of being and the significance of collective endeavors. Through this introspective lens, they should come to appreciate the intricate tapestry of human endeavours, where the journey itself holds as much significance as the ultimate destination. For them, the creative process ought not merely be a means to an end but also a profound source of satisfaction and purpose, guiding them towards a deeper understanding of their own contributions to their environment.

Knowingly, or rather consciously, Silva has increasingly distanced his practicefrom figurative and representational expressions that defined his early years to focus more on abstraction. This led to his becoming more experimental.

“As an abstract artist at an early stage of my career, like most artists,” he says, “I work by tuning my work with a particular concept or theme that fits my creativity. Are there specific materials and techniques?”

Even as he presently works with acrylics, he also delves into both a drip technique and impasto, using a palette knife. But he hopes to experiment with other things, which would include oil on canvas. “Drips as well as the impasto technique give me that vibe,” he enthuses. This is because they give him the satisfaction of being able to manipulate material as though he were writing songs on canvas and expressing what he feels at that moment.

This is the reason Gürsu, in her thought-provoking and insightful curatorial essay, emphasises that Imal Silva possesses a deep grasp of how intricate and evocative abstract narratives can shape individuals’ perceptions of environmental concerns on both an emotional and intellectual level. Silva’s dedication to promoting environmental advocacy through his art attests to a profound commitment to nurturing a creative hub that encourages inclusivity and sustainability by fostering meaningful connections across diverse communities.

Having been a dedicated and meticulous artist for over two decades, Silva has garnered unwavering support from not only his devoted wife but also from my loving family and a tight-knit circle of friends who have witnessed his creative journey unfold. Humbly, he believes that the essence of his persona resonates effortlessly with others, attributing his success to his authentic demeanour and humility, firmly rooted in reality rather than fleeting fantasies. While some recognise him as “a people’s person,”  he acknowledges this trait but also values his introspective nature, finding solace and inspiration in moments of tranquil reflection within his own creative sanctuary. His distinctive approach to life enables him to perceive his identity through a multifaceted lens, embodying a unique blend of extroversion and introspection that shapes his artistry and relationships.

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