Ernest Obukx Agoba

The Emergency Room Artist


Expressing Hope Through Art: the Instance of Ernest Agoba’s “Light and the Tunnel” Oil Painting

With so much suffering and pain in our world, with disappointing leadership crises, deteriorating climate, increasing authoritarianism and inequality, many have come to regard hope with skepticism and disdain. However, I believe hope is so central to the human condition, so foundational to our bodies, minds and souls that a work of art that does not strive after this is deemed a waste of time. In The Face of Hope, I think It doesn’t matter how thick the darkness may be, or how devastating the despair may be,  looking at images imbued with  hopeful thoughts  can heal or soften stings of deep wounds,. remove furrows of despair, illuminate our paths and lead us through the darkest nights. In these storms, these works appear to assure us that God is ultimately in the center of everything 

Hopelessness Can Paralyze or Distract

In 2020 the time seemed to have stopped, and up till 2022 we are yet to be lifted out from the agonies caused by recent events.  Tragedy has become a frequent visitor wearing multiple faces. We have seen an immense amount of panic, fear, grief, desperation, and loneliness. There are so many big questions swirling around our brains. How much worse will this pandemic get? When will we return to normal, even if it’s a new normal? And in the face of this existential uncertainty, what on earth can we turn to? Grief and loss are inevitable parts of life. We are all challenged one way or another, be it due to a worldwide pandemic or other circumstances. When that happens, we can turn to art in all forms for comfort, strength, inspiration, and hope – for anything we need. 

“Light and the Tunnel” Being Lifted into its Dwelling

I  delve into the tumultuous minds of people struggling to survive a world they did not bargain for. Here, I see man as covertly protective of his deep fears and anxieties, creating affectations  to conceal his weaknesses and storms.  With a world characterized by chaotic and heartbreaking moments, I see man desperately searching for hope in what appears a futility. This theme directs my art audience to answers hidden in eternal verities, behind mere forms and colors. 

Unwrapping “Light and the Tunnel”

Understanding the Thesis of Light in this Painting

 In this oil painting titled, “Light in the Tunnel”, I encounter man, in an atmosphere enveloped by fear and darkness, making an  eerie search for solutions to the problems of life. Using the metaphor of light, and reminiscent of the twelve disciples, i create humanity in a queue, inside a dark tunnel that promises light. I encapsulate in light, the symbolism of hope and victory that often only come with the knowledge and revelation made possible by the entrance of truth, symbolized by light.   In the course of this search, the beginnings are  occasioned by  anxieties and circumspection as may be observed in the last set of people.  In many of the world’s religions, light signifies salvation from the darkness of sin. In Christianity, it signifies the awesome presence of God. In John 8:12, Jesus relates the title of light to himself while debating with the Jews and states: 
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. Jesus is seen again claiming to be Light of the World in John 9:5. During the miracle of Healing the Blind at Birth, He rightly says: “When I am in the world, I am the Light of the World”.
 While a tunnel is evocative of the dark evils and troubles of this world, light, as is portrayed in the distance, is symbolic  of holiness, goodness, knowledge, wisdom, hope, and  
a way out of darkness and difficulties. To deny the presence of this light is to deny the ever-presence of the Christ,  the healing solution to every human problem. The full armor of God, the breast plate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, are, in totality, a summation and derivative of the weapon of Light, the antidote for the spiritual forces of wickedness. This work, measuring, 60 inches (152.4 cm)  by 84 inches (213.36), was done in oil on a stretched canvas. I work  in oil colors because it is ductile, slow drying, and has the widest range of hues possible.  As with several other of my works, I tried to shun overt abstractions and pure realism while embracing elements from both genres to enhance comprehension.

Spiritual Truths in "Light and the Tunnel"

Light and darkness is an antithesis that has symbolic meaning and is essential to understanding spiritual truths. The walk in the tunnel as may be seen in my artwork, while being expressive of Ephesians 6:10-20, is equally denotative of   John 12:35 which says,  “Walk while you have the light, before darkness over takes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going”. In theology, divine light, otherwise referred to as  divine radiance, is 
an aspect of divine presence, or specifically an unknown and mysterious ability of angels or human beings to express themselves communicatively through spiritual means, rather than through physical capacities. This informs the reason why angels manifest themselves spiritually rather than physically considering that the struggles are not against flesh and blood. 

My Leadership and Humanitarian Motivations

My passion for capturing human passion with paint began over 45 yrs ago. I had a strong desire to do something humanitarian and self gratifying, and to serve with my talents, particularly on matters that hinge on leadership and spiritualism.  I am encouraged to paint by the urge to evoke critical thoughts on humanity, leadership,  and spiritual awareness in a world redolent with natural and man-made crises. I have christened my art  “The Emergency Room Art”  because I believe that hope and leadership centered works of art are so exigent in our present time that a work of art that does not strive after these, today, could be deemed a waste of time.
My  artworks are mainly in oil. They carry fluid, recurring patterns that are considered abstracted derivatives of reality.  Oftentimes, these patterns are seen to  morph onto more recognizably realistic forms. Though sometimes I am not able to always achieve this, I shun overt abstractions and pure realism while embracing elements from both genres to enhance comprehension. I work mainly in oil colors because it is ductile, slow drying, and has the widest range of hues possible.