Things change as nearly all of them stay the same
“Smokey is I would suggest Onditi himself; observer and victim, like us.
And now although the style is similar, a fresh subject emerges and the artist proves his vocabulary can cope,
as can his palette of beguiling colours (sharp oranges, viridians, greys and salmon; a heady mix).
These are attractive works that look good on the wall.
Two of the main paintings deal with the New Big Issue: Migrants.
Curiosity Beyond Fence I shows Smokey, bag in hand, before a frontier barrier. There is only a small gap through
and beyond lies a dark sea, the Mediterranean, scene of innumerable shipwrecks and drownings.
On his trousers is the pattern of fingerprints — identity is vital — while across his jacket is scrawled in mirror
writing a succession of phrases about visa applications. (“Apply only” is one I could just decipher.)
Smokey is at the threshold of a new life.
Curiosity Beyond Fence II shows Smokey safely across the sea but confronted by yet another barrier. No gap in this
one. Life is a perpetual struggle with shackles whichever way you turn.
Smokey has my sympathy.”
The East African, Saturday, December 26 2015 : By Frank Whalley
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