The Colour and the Canvas


The appreciation of excellent creativity is at the intersection of the arts and science. I dare say the pendulum swings more to the science.

Even though creativity is imagined in the mind, it’s the eyes that appreciate it. The painter can abstract a piece never seen before. But what is the proof of life if eyes cannot see it on a canvas?

I now realize that the lack of finesse available in this part of the world isn’t because we lack creativity, or have a culture of in-excellence. That in fact, we have wrongfully ascribed ‘excellence’ as a vague virtue to appeal to one’s morality-to be at one’s best all the time.

Indeed, to develop a virtue can be methodical. Transparency as a virtue requires the state of truthfulness at all times but on this, man’s weakness of self preservationy may override it. Hence the need for cameras, digital bookkeeping, and other facilities that may reveal irreversible digital footprints.

So, why not excellence?

James Cameron, the Director of the multi-award winning film, Titanic has completed 33 submersible dives to the Titanic wreck. He could make a classic movie as real as the Titanic because of the experience he had had being 35,000ft below sea multiple times.

James Cameron said that the sequel to his blockbuster movie, Avatar was delayed because he needed technology to catch up with his vision. They took years to build the right set that would express what he had in his head.

The colour was available, but the canvas was not and so, there was no art.

Tom Cruise is what I like to describe as an athlete who is an actor. In his soon to be released film, ‘Mission Impossible’, he ditches CGI for the real life experience. The fight sequence done on a moving train was real and that train was primarily designed and built by the production team.

CGI is science enough. It reduces the risks that daunting stories may require. But imagine the thrill from watching adrenalin-pumped actors. And also compare a movie production building and wrecking a train that takes Nigerian politicians a fat budget and a glamorous ribbon-cutting event to do.

This may be the reason shabby jobs are called ‘ultra modern’ around here. The extent of their imagination is so restrictive and confined that seeing a live expression (although sub-optimal) of what they aren’t used to is incredible enough.

For many here, we have not pushed the boundaries of our colours, much more our canvas. A double tragedy.

Science = Excellence

How can a people be called excellent if many have not witnessed what judges them so? The power of ubiquity and replication is domiciled in those who are excellent.

Thus, if Nigeria’s fashion is excellent, why is the power of its ubiquity in the hands of the Chinese or Dutch or Turkish? The technology to mass produce Akwete or Adire is not in Nigeria.

It is not the lack of Nigerian stories that places Nollywood at 3rd position consistently, globally. It is the quantity and quality of production.

Afrobeat would have been enjoyed in few clusters around the world if people who had the global distribution power did not appreciate the sound. Important to emphasize that this power of distribution- the real power is not held by the creatives.

It is of utmost importance that the Nigerian education must begin to prioritize a case for disciplines at the intersection of science and arts. A different orientation about reserving the arts strictly for the less bright students should be taught.

Science empowers culture. The ideas, creativity and art will have limited reach without science. More emphatically, there will be no excellence without science.

Check around the world, it is not the colour (possession of ideas) that builds trans-national wealth, rather, it’s the canvass (excellent scientific distribution).