• Nigerian modernism(s) 1900-1960 and the cultural ramifications of the found object in art

      Akpang, Clement Emeka (University of BedfordshireUniversity of Bedfordshire, 2016-07)
      This thesis explored the phenomenon of Modernism in Twentieth Century Nigerian art and the cultural ramifications of the Found Object in European and African art. Adopting the analytical tools of postcolonial theory and Modernism, modern Nigerian art was subjected to stylistic, conceptual and contextual analysis. The avant-gardist context of the form was explored for two reasons; first in an attempt to distinguish the approaches of named artists and secondly, to address the Eurocentric exclusion of the ‘Other’ in Modernist discourse. The works of Nigerian modernists - Aina Onabolu, Ben Enwonwu and Uche Okeke whose practices flourished from 1900 - 1960, were interrogated and findings from detailed artists case studies proved that during the period of European Modernism, a parallel bifurcated Modernism (1900-1930 / 1930 -1960) occurred in Nigeria characterised by the interlacing of modern art with nationalist political advocacies to subvert colonialism, imperialism and European cultural imposition. This radical formulation of modern Nigerian art, constituted a unique parallel but distinct avant-gardism to Euro-American Modernism, thus proving that Modernism is a pluralistic phenomenon. To valorise the argument that Modernism had multiple avant-garde centres, this thesis analysed the variations in philosophies, ideologies and formalism of the works of Nigerian Modernists and contrasted them from Euro-American avant-gardes. The resultant cultural and contextual differences proved the plurality of Modernism not accounted for in Western art history. Furthermore, by adopting comparative analysis of the Found Object in European and African art, this thesis proved that, the appropriation of mundane objects in art differ from culture to culture, in context, philosophies and ramifications. This finding contributes to knowledge by addressing the ambiguity in Found Object art discourse and problematic attempts to subsume this genre into a mainstream framework. The uncovering/theorisation of this parallel bifurcated Nigerian Modernism, contributes to expanding understanding of Modernism as a pluralistic phenomenon thus, contributing to debates for the recognition of the different Modernisms which cultures outside Europe gave rise to. The recognition and situation of Nigerian avant-gardism and modernism and interpretation of the Found Object as being culturally specific will subsequently contribute to the reconstruction of modernist discourse and Nigerian/African art histories.