Beautiful Chaos – An Art Goer’s Experience

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but if it is, how do we then perceive chaos?

Lazham Gaina, Jos

The art exhibition titled “Beautiful Chaos” is a seamless blend of both concepts. Curated and showcased by Ponchang Kumven, this was a collection of art centred around one simple theme – Beautiful Chaos: Disruption, Transformation and Creativity. 

While the title begets thoughts of what good can come from chaos, the concept is not far fetched. One can argue that for beauty to be created, there must first be a form of chaos or destruction, and only after can true beauty be found. 

Chaos precedes order, order precedes chaos and beauty is somewhere in between – Amy Larson

Jos, Plateau state – the home of peace and tourism as it is popularly known, is no stranger to beautiful works of art. In years past, Jos was known as one of the best places for tourism. It was the go-to place to witness a healthy display of a part of Nigeria’s cultural heritage. 

This is no longer reality. Plagued by years of crisis and terrorism, the beauty of Plateau state has faded to the background. Terrorism, Kidnapping and bad governance now stand at the forefront. 

Despite the oppression and blatant disregard for human rights by the government, the Plateau state youth have refused to stand down and take it lightly. 

Beautiful chaos is documentation and also a showcase of the collective voice of the Plateau state youth and people of Jos. Documentation of unity, camaraderie and peace. 

The Exhibition

The beautiful Chaos exhibition was held in Jos, Plateau state from the 22nd to 24th of January, 2021. A partnership between Alewa House and JAGO – Jos Art Gallery Online, this exhibition was held at nHub foundation, 2nd-floor TEAN business complex, opposite former NITEL office, Jos.

All art showcased in this exhibition is a representation of the chaos that occurred in the year 2020. This includes the #End SARS protest, Global pandemic, ASUU strike and economic recession. 

Photo by Andy Chantu

Art is an expression of one’s inner creativity. A process of giving that which is intangible a physical form, thereby giving it life. 

What makes this exhibition compelling is viewing how each person interprets life and chaos into their work. Each piece of work reflects a reality imposed on the artist as Nigerians. 

The focal points of this exhibition were the excellent pictures taken during the protest and the paintings created to depict this theme. 

The exhibition’s curator – Mr Ponchang Kumven, was able to collect pictures from different artists that attended the protests.

Photo taken at the exhibition

The pictures showcased were absolutely brilliant. These pictures were taken in the heat of the moment, some even at a danger to the photographer and others around. 

Photo by Emmanuel Morgan Ishaya

Every artist has a unique view and perspective of every situation. What was interesting about this exhibition was seeing how each artist chose to show the chaos from their own viewpoint. Some artists captured the unique fashion trends that were birthed during the protest, others took a much broader approach, and captured the day-to-day actions of the protesters. 

Photo by Twamsen Danaan

Photo by Epaphras Obed

Digressing from the many powerful photos that were showcased, I looked at the paintings showcased in the exhibition. Mainly two paintings stood out to the general crowd. The works of the painter – Mangai Dawang was a favourite for the audience. Both paintings told a story that any person who had lived on the Plateau in the past few years would be able to relate to easily. 

Through colour on canvas, these artists were able to show their interpretation of beautiful chaos. 

In its entirety, the exhibition which went on for over 3 days was a success. A huge congratulations to the curator who painstakingly took the time to gather each piece and the many artists who contributed their works to this exhibition. 

It was a memorable experience and a great reminder not to forget that which we’re fighting for and those who we have lost.

Visual arts provide us with a unique opportunity to reflect on ourselves and our humanity. This can be challenging, provocative and inspiring all in relation to our own reality or context and having just white-knuckled through the most unpredictable year in living memory, it’s important we take some time to analyze the past. Humanistic research and study teach us not to forget experiences and knowledge of the past but to reflect upon them and use our collective memory to better address the needs of contemporary society. For example, enabling citizens to actively participate in the continuous effort to build and defend democracy.  – A quote by the curator of the exhibition – Ponchang Kumven.

Last modified: July 31, 2021

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