Art is born of the observation and investigation of nature, man’s relationship with his environment and the society at large are critical. Morphogenesis comes from that in-depth and explanatory look into the social science of man in relation to his environment.

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John Madu, Metacognito

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John Madu’s work is influenced by his experiences, religion and the female gender. A constant source of inspiration and guidance to his work can be seen in the works of Elsie Lincoln Benedict (and Ralph Paine Benedict)’s book ‘How to Analyze People on Sight’. 

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John Madu, Knowing 2

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John Madu, Not for Sale

According to John, his paintings for this exhibition “embodies the figurative, of pseudo-silhouette forms with latent allegorical meanings, involving planar and spatiotemporal planes having the qualities of both time and space”. His subjects assert the role of the greatest problem facing an organism, which is, its successful reaction to its environment. Environment in this content is the sum total of ones experiences.

He uses apple in some of the works as a metaphor for knowledge and exposure. This can be related to the biblical story of Adam and Eve whose eyes were opened when they ate the fruit of knowledge. The apples are used as a symbol of ‘the gateway’ to wisdom. 

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John Madu is also versatile, creating paintings influenced by popular and western culture including western coat, fanfare hat, suits and ties. It must be noted he also infuses African culture into this western fashion, using African fabrics and features. Some of these features are abstract representations of deeper issues. 

The subjects are expressed in different moods with explosions from their head, which is the cephalic part of an organism. John uses this to portray the mind at work, constantly conceiving thoughts. They are seen in different states of mind or altered state of consciousness with apples in the background.

These works are a juxtaposition between ecstasy, fantasy, dreams and reality.

Art is science made clear”.

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JOHN MADU is a self-taught artist. He has been painting professionally since 2006, and has exhibited in group exhibitions in Nigeria. He’s also a dealer of old paintings of pioneer artist, a fabric designer, and an illustrator. His works can be found in collections in Nigeria, Canada and France.

Artist photograph – Fred Salami Photography


TONY OLA is an art writer and a student of creative arts at the University of Lagos. Follow his Instagram account: @tonyola_007.