Chioma Ebinama Lay all Your Love on Me
Don’t go wasting your emotions / Lay all your love on me!
-Benny Goran Bror Andersson / Bjoern K. Ulvaeus
Today is a killer.
I have an overwhelming urge to fly. Don’t you too? My ancestors have conspired so that I remain in this moment. This dry place where things feel immovable. I cannot just get up and go. I have a feeling that neither can you.
The mind can conjure all kinds of things to keep you in motion and as we move further from childhood it only gets harder to admit when we’re lost.
The heart knows what’s buried under those shifting sands of being. Unfortunately, she only speaks in silence.
Some days, I was still enough to summon a few images. And in that peace, I heard a question:
Are you certain you know how to grieve?
For the works in lay all your love on me, Chioma Ebinama (b. 1988, Maryland, USA) deftly washes watercolor with Sumi ink and ground coffee to form intuitive and intricate symbolic designs often haunted by hybrid creatures and kindly spirits—on handmade cotton rag paper. Her paintings divulge their absorption of substance and atmosphere in blooms and wrinkles that also enhance their surface calligraphies. The material ephemerality of these delicate works, when installed in the gallery, seems to suspend the elements of a lyric tale in three dimensions. Alluding to representational forms, the artist’s rhyme between the loosely coiled twines of hair crowning a suite of nymphlike beings (nchekwbe [hope], and iwe iwe [bitterness], both 2021) and the latticed limbs of a climbing hedge studded with thistle and crimson blossoms (gol o bol bol, 2021) also set the scene for an allegory or epic to unfold off the page, in time.
Chioma Ebinama is a Nigerian-American artist who lives and works in Athens, Greece. Her works on paper combine an interest in drawing and visual narrative with a focus on the liberatory potential of animism, mythology, and pre-colonial philosophies beyond Western paradigms. Her solo exhibition, A Spiral Shell, is on view at Maureen Paley, London, through December 2021. She is represented by Catinca Tabacaru Gallery in collaboration with Fortnight Institute.
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