ARTISTZinno Orara

With a disarming honesty that foreshadows his quick intellectual mind, the philosopher in Zinno is perhaps best amplified by Fredrich Nietzche’s wry observation that ‘to live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering’.

Zinno Akpoghene Orara better known as Zinno Orara needs no introduction. One of the very first contemporary Nigerian artists to practice as a full time studio artist, he celebrates the 30 year anniversary of his practice with a solo exhibition at Terra Kulture.

In a crowded contemporary art scene where painting has become the medium de jour, artists like Zinno Orara and his contemporaries like Jerry Buhari, Sam Ovraiti, Abiodun Olaku, Edosa Oguigo and Duke Asidire, continue to lead the vanguard as emergent masters.

Born on November 17, 1965, Zinno attended the Auchi polytechnic where he specialized in painting and illustration. Graduating at the top of his class, the 23 year old took home all the available prizes in his graduating set.

From Auchi, he went straight into studio practice at a time when the career trajectory for a fine artist was – graduate then become a cartoonist or work in advertising or lecture.

Zinno did no such thing. He embraced his art fully at a time when it was not the coolest thing to do. Explaining his choice he says it was all due to an over-riding passion for his craft. “I was among the first generation of artists that dared Studio practice…. It was just passion driven!

And it paid off. Zinno’s first solo exhibition was at Didi Musuem in 1991, three years after his graduation. He became a household name with solo and group exhibitions following swiftly here in Nigeria and across the world from South Africa to Germany, Sweden to Spain, UK to US and Canada.

The 45 works slated for exhibition at Terra Kulture are representative of Zinno Orara’s eclectic style and extensive oeuvre. What sets them apart are his love for textured surfaces which often leads to canvases overlaid with jute bags as well as his predilection for blue yellow and brown colours. There is also the haziness that imbues his paintings with an almost impressionistic aspect.

Acknowledging his preference for textured surfaces as well as mixed media pieces, the artist says “I love textures. I love jute bags. They give me a texture that tickles my fancy. The textures I get from jute bags take me to realms that canvases will never reach.”

Two good examples would be “Pregnant with Possibilities” and “A Stitch in Time” which is a beguiling and philosophical mixed media piece.