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Interviews

The Power of Words

 

In this 2006 interview, conducted by Ama Konadu Adjare-Nimako at Seed Gallery, New York, Nya’ discusses how words anchor the core of his work and generate the ideas, concepts, precepts, principles and values of selected paintings from his oeuvre.

 

 

AMA

 

 

Your entire oeuvre to date is anchored in the dimensions of faith, vision and purpose; and in your painting thesis, you wrote, and I quote “my work is predicated on the power of words.”

 

 

Please explain how words play a role in your work?

 

 

NYA′

 

 

The entire universe is a word-created, word-governed, and word-controlled system. There is no human being who has the power to choose whether or not to live under the authority of words, for Man cannot get himself under the authority of words.

 

 

However, every one of us has been given the free will to choose the words under which we can live by - either words filled with faith that release potential and empower sovereign purpose and vision or words filled with fear that always lead to frustration, sorrow, diseases, stress, worry and eventually death.

 

 

Essentially, words are the spiritual containers that carry faith, purpose and vision. Words establish vision and faith is vision in the human heart. Therefore, without words, faith is void, purpose is sterile and vision is futile.

 

AMA

 

One of the paintings in this exhibition is actually entitled “Victims of Faith.”

Series III, Above the Horizon, Nya’ 2004. Courtesy of Seed Gallery, New York

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Victims of Faith

NYA’

 

Yes, in fact, the two dominating figures in the foreground of the composition, composed of cut-out paper and frozen in a jubilant dance highlight the victory of faith over fear, right over wrong, good over evil, and light over darkness.

 

In essence, the consistent application and practice of the principles of faith (alluded to in the composition by the numbers 2;3;4;5 and 7) in an atmosphere of praise sustained in abiding in the knowledge and understanding of the precepts of creation and obedience to the Creator’s divine and supernatural laws has caused the figures to emerge victorious over the dark season of shame and reproach partially alluded to by the disappearing pencil figures and charcoal renderings of the broken violin.

 

AMA

 

 

I am also seeing that all your paintings from this exhibition have words, letters and even numbers carefully etched within the complex compositions?

 

 

NYA′

 

 

Every painting I create is inspired by the author of life, the originator of purpose and protector of vision, The Holy Spirit; be it through reading The Word, revelation knowledge received from reading The Word, praying in line with The Word and/or meditating on The Word.

 

 

However, spoken words from other sources – be it written words from books, words invoked through images, words conveyed from generation to generation, words transmitted through oral tradition and history, words uttered through the world of religion, words reverberated through the world of music and entertainment and words expressed and echoed through the world of social media are secondary resources for my work. My intention is to express how the Creator of every visible and invisible element, including Mankind, has entirely put the authority of life and death in our hands through the words we individually and corporately choose to hear, meditate on and speak.

 

 

Therefore, in the triptych “Destiny of Words, I used keenly coded Scriptural references and numbers to portray the passionate and covenantal relationship that eternally binds the inspired Word given to a visionary in order to follow and fulfill his divine purpose in life. Using color, texture and found objects, I visually depict the revelatory Word given to him as a secretly coded language that is as mysterious as an original dead sea scroll or an ancient parchment from Timbuktu in the hands of an ignorant person.

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Destiny of Words

In “Retired Composer, the faith-filled and life-giving Word is spoken consistently by the gifted musician in the midst of his quandary, in his season of bleak despair enables him to escape the valley of death and resurrect his dying flesh by instilling divine life in his re-created spirit. In the end, the courageous composer, whom I depicted using a simple line in a sea of celestial blues is rewarded for his steadfast faith by receiving an extended warranty of life and a new morning filled with hope, passion, purpose, joy and endless possibilities.

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Retired Composer

AMA

 

 

Is a human being a victim of the words he chooses to speak?

 

 

NYA′

 

 

Words are seeds, and words have roots, therefore, words will continue working to produce exactly what you have said long after you have stopped speaking them. In other words, the words you speak every day, all day long, day in and day out, every day of your life are the seeds you are reaping the harvest of; for a Man’s life simply follows the words he speaks, and no human being can rise above the words he chooses to speak every day.

 

 

In “Reservoir of Words,” I compare human beings' need for faith or God’s Word to how a seed buried in the ground needs oxygen, warmth and water to initiate the process of germination. By using vibrant colors reminiscent of nature, the painting abstractly depicts roots searching for nourishment, still waters in an ocean, the birth of a flower and the rebirth of a dying leaf.

 

 

AMA

 

 

“Reservoir of Words” is for me the most riveting painting in the exhibition, and the colors you used for the painting remind me of Oscar Claude Monet’s 1915 “Water lilies” triptych.

 

 

Are you familiar with the iconic painting I am referring to?

 

 

NYA′

 

 

Ironically, on my first visit to the Metropolitan Museum, I vividly remember being overwhelmed by the shimmering illusion of an endless whole portrayed by the three panels of Monet’s “Water Lilies.” The serene refuge of contemplation in the center of nature that Monet created in his work moved me deeply.  Perhaps subconsciously, while I was working on “Reservoir of Words,” Monet’s colors intuitively influenced my own palette.

 

 

AMA

 

 

By revealing the power of words in the paintings from this exhibition and your work in general, is it one of your primary purposes to didactically compel the viewer to choose his palette of words wisely?

 

 

NYA′

 

 

Yes. However, without a regenerated Spirit and the Word of God consistently active in your life, it is impossible for a natural Man to control his tongue because he cannot naturally control his thoughts, instincts, impulses and imagination.

 

 

In “Deserts of Vast Eternity,” I visually expound, through the burnt metal and incongruous parts comprising a ragtag door void of a proper handle how an immature person at the wheel of life has no control over the words that come out of his mouth. Naturally, through willpower, sheer discipline, training and determination, any human being can speak positive words for a season but when the pressure and uncertainties of life engulf him, he adulterates and contaminates his positive words with idle and corrupt words, thereby ruining his entire harvest.

DESERTS OF VAST ETERNITY.jpg

Series I, Divine Inspiration, Nya’ 2004. Courtesy of Seed Gallery, New York

Deserts of vast Eternity

AMA

 

 

Can you explain your use of words in Mandate of Dominion,” especially the fading coded text at the heart of the composition, which, upon carefully decoding, -with the help of your painting notes- reads, and I quote “religion and its monotonous traditions, rituals and ceremonies keep Man away from the Kingdom of God thereby rendering the Word of God powerless and sterile?”

MANDATE OF DOMINION

Series I, Divine Inspiration, Nya’ 2004. Courtesy of Seed Gallery, New York

Mandate of Dominion

NYA′

 

 

The sackcloth, dried twigs, broken glass, burnt pages from various religious manuscripts, scattered ashes and rusty locks crudely overlaying the dabs of lamb’s blood which I used to coat the ground of the painting allude to the dead system of rules and rituals produced and practiced by religion. The unforgiving materials also represent the numerous regulations that people in religion are required to obey, follow and adhere to using willpower, human effort and self-discipline. This results in creating a form or veneer of Godliness but without any power, authority, influence and dominion.

 

In essence, religion keeps Man very busy and preoccupied with doing “good things” that it believes make God happy. Religion also emotionally incites Man to zealously try and appease his Creator in order to earn earthly favors and a ticket to heaven. In other words, religion locks Man out from what every human being is seeking, and in essence, what he lost, and His Creator legally brought back to earth in the body of Jesus, and that is The Kingdom of God. Fundamentally, the original government of God in The Holy Spirit that He gave Mankind to righteously dominate this earth and transform it to look like heaven.  

 

 

AMA

 

 

In your volume of notes accompanying the painting, you have a powerful definition of religion, would you please conclude this interview by reading it to us?

 

 

NYA′

 

 

Most certainly, I actually composed this definition (as you called it) over a period of ten years. Therefore, it is more than just a definition to me. It is a revelatory passage birthed out of the pain of seeing Mankind desperately trying to reach and appease our Creator and Source of Life who has already restored us to our original position of dominion and authority over the colony of earth by translating us from the Kingdom or governing power of ignorance, chaos, confusion, strife, divisions, death and misery into His Kingdom of Light or divine knowledge, understanding, wisdom, excellence and abundant wealth.  It reads;

 

 

Religion reduces the spirit specie of Man, created in the exact image of God and endowed with dominion and authority to a beggarly neurotic; who, in his constant self-debasement mien, which he ignorantly mistakes as humility, becomes increasingly filled with guilt. He is then smeared with an unmistakable stench of fear that makes his life a diurnal struggle in a tenebrous valley gorged with torment, toiling, sorrow, lament, complaining and bitterness. Asphyxiating in his doleful state, he resigns from his divine responsibility of recreating the world of Heaven on earth and contemplates martyrdom as he perfects his rituals, ceremonies and traditions while cradling his starving spirit with mentally rehearsed promises of a coming sweet bye and bye.”

 

 

AMA

 

 

Can we now discuss your use of sackcloth in your compositions, but particularly in this painting entitled Tablet of Prosperity?

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Tablet of Prosperity

NYA′

 

 

Sackcloth represents humiliation, famine, diseases, mourning, lament, sorrow and grief.

 

 

Therefore, my intention for the sackcloth was to portray the untold suffering and torment endured by Man when he frantically tries to meet his needs without God and live on this earth outside the Kingdom of God. Aside from the sackcloth, I emphasized Mankind’s sorrow and anguish of living without a re-generated spirit (or born-again nature) by scattering pieces of broken glass, pebbles and thistles on top of the sackcloth.

 

 

AMA

 

 

Why is most of the text in the painting covered with the sackcloth?

 

 

NYA′

 

 

The text, which is composed of God’s Word, or the Creator’s irrevocable laws, decrees and commandments  is not covered by the sackcloth, but rather, it is emerging or arising from beneath the sackcloth. In fact, the powerful light emanating from the scroll and The Word underneath the sackcloth is responsible for exposing the sackcloth, in essence, the suffering and torment it represents.

 

 

AMA

 

 

In other words, without the presence of The Word, Mankind will be dead in His religion, fear, torment and pain, and not even know it

 

 

NYA′

 

 

Not only will Mankind be spiritually dead and buried in his fallen state, but it is the power of the Spirit of God or Holy Spirit now in every born-again child of God that is penetrating and transforming the dark and barren patches in the composition into light filled areas blanketed in gold and The Life-giving Word.

 

 

AMA

 

 

Since there are still dark patches in the piece, are you implying that the power of the Holy Spirit or Spirit Word of God is yet to permeate the entire scope of the painting?

 

 

NYA′

 

 

There are still places on the landscape of the painting still unexposed to The Word, The New Covenant and its power to restore Man to his true identity and original glory. However, there are also places in the composition, where, even though The Word of The Kingdom of God now on earth is present, religion and its traditions are still holding this good news at bay; even though Man's spirit is yearning for the Kingdom of God, which is what he lost and Jesus, The Word of God in flesh, came to restore back to humanity. In essence, The Word is Man's only source of spiritual nutrition and The Kingdom of God is his only source for enduring empowerment and true freedom

 

 

As I stated before, the work of redemption or purchasing Humanity from the clutch of sin and death is finished in Jesus. However, since every human being was given the power and free will to choose, one can choose either to live under the curse, experiencing the confusion, fear, torment, toil, divisions, prejudice, diseases, and unimaginable sorrow and pain as represented by the severely soiled sackcloth, or receive God’s open invitation into his Kingdom of Light, as represented in the painting by The Word, The Scroll and The dabs of Lamb’s blood.

TABLET OF PROSPERITY POSTER

Tablet of Prosperity Poster

AMA

 

 

What does the braille on the extreme left side of the painting represent?

 

 

NYA′

 

 

Firstly, the braille is partly burnt, thereby making it hard to feel and read the words and letters. My intention was to represent the futility and scorched harvest produced by Man when He tries to live in this world by his own intellect, imagination and words. Even if his intentions are noble, and even if he speaks positive words, as represented by the bronze like colored parts on the braille, his perceived success is always temporary and always ends in sorrow and regret since he cannot control his imagination or tame his tongue without the power of God’s Spirit. And as the trimmed top part of the braille suggests, any success or achievement by Man without God is always capped, meaning he can only go thus far before his systems, (be it his economic system, financial system, health system, religious system or education system) collapses, fails and/or become contaminated, degenerated and dysfunctional resulting in the destruction of many people. But because he never stops to consider what it is that he is really seeking and why he is seeking it, he simply starts all over again and experience the same results.

 

 

Additionally, one can only understand or read braille through feeling and touching the raised 8 dots that make up each letter and word. Similarly, without God’s Covenant Word, and void of understanding His precepts and obeying His divine laws, Man tries in vain to live a fruitful, peaceful and fulfilled life though practicing his religious beliefs, indulging his feelings, satisfying his emotions and pursuing the endeavors of his imagination. But without The Holy Spirit, all his efforts, desires, ambitions, dreams and visions only lead him to famines, inequality, wars, strife, prejudices, diseases, poverty, and premature death.

 

 

AMA

 

 

But it seems like the braille eventually disintegrates or merges into the legible text and gold and white colors

 

 

NYA′

 

 

I sincerely believe that every Man, regardless of his religion, ethnic background, nationality, gender, economic and or philosophical disposition, is essentially searching for answers to five basic questions. These questions are;

 

 

Whom am I?

 

Where am I from?

 

Why am I here on earth?

 

What is my potential or what is intrinsic to me, essentially my gift and calling in life?

 

And where am I going?

 

 

Therefore, by merging the braille into the legible text, and in fact, the entire painting, my intention was to portray that the answer to Mankind's questions and needs is not in religion, self-help books, a career, marriage or everything else he does to entertain and ameliorate himself; but rather, in the Kingdom of God. Therefore, Man's search is for what he lost and what His Creator, Manufacturer and Source of life came down to earth to cleanse him so that he can have it back again, and that is the Kingdom of God in The Holy Spirit.

 

 

AMA

 

 

You have also dealt with these five questions when explaining the dearth of true leadership in the world through your painting “Spiritual Purifiers” from your other series, Voices of the Earth.”

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Spiritual Purifiers

NYA′

 

 

Yes. In fact, most of the paintings I am inspired to create subliminally discuss those five important questions. However, it is more pronounced in paintings from Voices of the Earthseries.

 

 

AMA

 

Are you also implying through Tablet of Prosperity that the answers to the five questions you believe every human being is asking can only be found in God?

 

 

NYA′

 

 

Religion, philosophy, politics and even science attempts to answer these questions, and Man spends a fortune on seminars, books, conferences and all sorts of different things trying to find answers to these five basic questions.

 

 

When you listen to what I term “contemporary spiritualism,” in other words, Man’s modern way of finding a comfortable teaching or religion that feels good for his body and soul, you will discover that most, if not all of the “teachings” are adapted from God’s Word. However, because the learned teachers do not want to anger or offend their educated and contemporary audience and sponsors, the name Jesus, God or The Holy Spirit is not mentioned, but it is rather replaced with palatable and non-controversial words like “the universe, mother nature, creation and so on...

 

 

AMA

 

 

How does the title of the painting fit in with the subject matter of the work?

 

 

NYA′

 

 

When you carefully study the five questions that motivate Man's actions and which he is invariably seeking answers to, you will find that what Man truly desires is the ability to dominate, subdue, control, rule, replenish and successfully manage his environment. In other words, Mankind is seeking for power that will grant him abundance, a vocabulary that can give him happiness, a government that can give him peace, a recipe that can guarantee him utopia. In essence, Mankind is seeking an immovable, dependable, irrevocable and trustworthy source of success. He is seeking for the Tablet of Prosperity.”