Saturday, 3 December 2016

Confronting State Of The Nation With Who Will Blink First?

By Taajudeen Sowole
Capturing a state of the nation's battle for survival, art, in its full strength was deplored in Lagos, with photography/film, poetry, performance, installation and mixed media painting. The space: a distinct art exhibition part of Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF 2016), held at Freedom Park, Lagos Island energises creative expression as relevant voice in nationhood narrative.
Nkechi Nwosu-­Igbo's I Will Huff and Puff and Blow Your House, installation view. Sticks, ropes plastic cups, nails, mats, papers. 2016

 For the artists involved in the exhibition titled Who Will Blink First? - curated by Nkechi Nwosu-Igbo -  it's a familiar space. Photographer, Aderemi Adegbite;  activist-performer, Jelili Atiku; installation artist, Nwosu-Igbo, painter, Bob-nosa Uwagboe and poet, Efe Paul Ajino whose works have been shown at the yearly space, severally, continue adding conceptual texture to the yearly event. Recall that at the last edition, the regular artists featured in the exhibition titled They Have Asked Us To Smile

 The 2016 exhibition, presented by Mild Red Studios, articulates The Terror of Knowledge, a central theme of LABAF 2016.
 The theme of the exhibition suggests a combative gathering perhaps similar to common outrage, which frustrated Nigerian youths always released via social media. No, Who Will Blink First?, is a deviation that provides platform for Nigerians to apply education and knowledge as weapon in combating economic challenge such as recession.

 From photographs of his foreign tours titled Summer Trips series, Adegbite shares how knowledge, in the context of the exhibition's theme relates to his European travelogue. Some of the works include rail lines in Europe shot from aerial view, couple in the wood and quite some postal stamps of iconic names of western descents as well as a book cover. 

  Adegbite explains that the Summer Trips series reflect movement "around within spaces with similar history to mine."
  From a 2014 project, which Atiku titled, Lord Lugard Sings Blah Blah Green Sheep (Maanifesito I) performed at Ejigbo, a Lagos suburb, the artist drags onto the LABAF 2016 exhibition space, a recent controversial demolition of Nigeria's national monument. The edifice, known as Ilojo Bar, Tiubu Square, Lagos State, was said to have been built over 150 years ago, but went into rubbles under the bulldozers of an anonymous private developer. Adapted for the LABAF space, Atiku's Hunhun-un-un (Maanifesito V series, he says, "question our sense of reasoning in sustaining collective histories and memories." 

  President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government must have aligned itself with the thoughts of painter, Uwagboe, if the news report few days ago, about stripping people of small arms is anything to hold on to. Uwagboe's body of work shown at the exhibition stresses the need to check proliferation of small and large arms, if peace must reign and generate good economic environment.

 Some of the works include The Herdsmen and The Gun..... acrylic on textured canvas...24 x 30; The Elite and His Gun Man (acrylic on canvas... 24 x 30 2016); and The Unregister Gun (acrylic on canvas 24 x 30 2016.)

  From his three works titled I Go In Search Of Sorrow, Dream Seeker and Leaving Azino shares the value of words in narrating relationship. His spoken-words reads: 'I go in Search of Sorrow Something dark I can swallow
A rain of tears to beat my garment, heavy, arching my shoulders
I pine for the grip of melancholia
To grab me by the mind and squeeze..."
Jelili Atiku's Kill Not This Country (Maanifesito II), Catholic Mission Street/ Hospital Road / Broad Street, Lagos Island, Saturday November 31, 2015. Photo by Emmanuel Sanni

 In a state of recession, carrying emotional baggage of hate and intolerance would be mentally horrendous, so suggest Nwosu-Igbo's installation. Mounted in broken bars that form contents for the construction, the red painted work depicts the complexity of intolerance. The installation, I Will Huff and Puff And Bllow Your House Down probes the Nigerian mentality of intolerance. "We have built this shaky establishment for the us vs. them mind-set..."

 Again, the LABAF art exhibition provides a space for visual engagement on issues, filling the vacuum left by commercial-dominate Lagos art scene.

 In her curatorial notes, Nwosu-Igbo writes: "There is a crucial need to create and improve new radical and well-founded tactics of fighting, surviving, and collective action to be able to exist in Nigeria of today," Nwosu-Igbo explains in her curatorial statement. "Who Will Blink First? suggests an arranged, time-based, three-dimensional village meeting where the exhibition hall will serve as a site for exchange of survival ideas."

Standing Before Kings In A Debutant's Pastel

By Tajudeen Sowole
In a Lagos art space, where the stake is increasingly high, self-taught artist, Tayo Ayelowo debuts with portraiture, a sub-genre that is easily vulnerable to critique. Currently, and for the next one week, Ayelowo's pastel pieces of Nigerian monarchs are showing as Standing For Kings at Mercedes Benz Centre, Lekki, Lagos. Ayelowo, a lawyer by formal training, has, over the years done portraiture of monarchs that she says are inspired by diversity and richness of kingly regalia.
Tayo Ayelowo’s pastel capture of Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi

An exhibition of portraits from Nigeria's royal settings, either in photography or paintings is not new on Nigerian art landscape. Child music star of the 1980s, now an artist, Tosin Jegede and photographer, George Osodi had, each, shown portraits of select traditional leaders. With Ayelowo, it would be of interest to know her experience having the much-revered custodian of tradition and cultures sat for portraiture. But much of the portraits, she discloses, were done using photographs. In addition to using photographic reference of the monarchs, direct interaction with two or three royal family, she adds, has been of tremendous help in getting to know her subjects as well as sharing a feel of the heritage spaces.
Still on what comes naturally, applying finger tips and thumps in aiding the pastel on papers, are extensions of what she considers a vital part of her life, generally. For example, she prefers eating African foods "with my fingers instead of cutlery."   
As a debut solo effort, and coming from a self - taught artist, Standing Before Kings reveals an artist with strong touch of pastel, despite widely using darkened background that sometimes swallow the portraits. But most times, the white garments of the subjects provide the balance, diffusing the flatness. 
Quite interesting, the white also plays spirituality part in Ayelowo's paintings, being loud in what seems common among some of the monarchs' choice of clothing.. From the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, in a woven wig-like white crown, and adorned with equally white regalia: to Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Nneemeka's simplified white top with red beads and cap; as well as Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Aremu Akiolu-1, there is something about the traditional rulers’ choice and purity.
Among other monarchs on Ayelowo's list of 26 pastel paintings are Aalafin Of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi; Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona; Gbong-Gwon of Jos, Jacob Gyang; Obong of Calabar, Bassey Ekpo Bassey; Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Arenu, Gbadebo III; Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi; and Olu of Warri, Ogiame Ikenwoli.
Perhaps Ayelowo is not just another self-taught artist that is gatecrashing into the creative terrain. She has an Artist Statement to explain her passion: "Capturing a person’s facial expression has been my obsession.
My work explores the relationship between visual arts and on how it stimulates the senses. My paintings are as a result of passion of pictorial gravity and accumulated expression of inspirations. Each and every piece of my paintings is laced with undercurrents of emotion, change and movements. Therefore, most of my work may conform to “reality.

  “I worked hard to paint the Traditional Rulers such that it should communicate both to me and to others about the splendor buried deep in tradition and culture. I want to communicate fluently the language of humanity and share my work with the world. Do enjoy the view. Thank you."

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Lagos stopover for Shonibare’s 'Wind Sculpture VI'

Few days ago, the touring Wind Sculpture series by Nigerian-British artist, Yinka Shonibare was on display at Ndubuisi Kanu Park, Alausa, Ikeja. 
Yinka Shonibare's Wind Sculpture VI, (in the background), opened at Ndubusi Kanu Park, Lagos, few days ago.

During the Talk session of the opening, the artist told guests that the Sculpture VI is about taking art to the public space.

 Inspired by the sailing of ships, the sculptures also adapted African patterns made from Dutch wax fabrics, an identity in Shonibare’s works.
  The sculpture is on display until 31 January 2017.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Escaping To 'Freedom' Of New Offo Period

By Tajudeen Sowole
Five years of art, complementing a hospitality space, in Nigerias business travel industry exhales visually through artist, Gbenga Offo's new period. The artist"s sculpture, described as never-seen in public adds fresh breath to his cubism painting identity.
Hope II Bronze 3fts 2016 by Gbenga Offo
The hospitality space, The Wheatbaker, Ikoyi, Lagos, which opened for business in 2011, has, consistently, been hosting art exhibitions as a “luxury boutique hotel,”  The art space, which is curated by Sandra Obiago Mbanefo engages visitors to the hotel in visual dalogue as each exhibition - across generations of Nigerian artists - is not detached from constant views of traffic flow.

 More interesting, Offo, an artist known for his cubism style painting is also showing, for the first time, sculptures made in bronze and wrought iron/stainless for the hotel’s fifth anniversary. Offo is brings a body of work he titles Freedom, which is showing for over three months, ending January 15, 2017.

 After a long period of his career that has projected him with a clear identity in cubism, Offo appears to be using Freedom to step into a new era. "I don't want to be labeled a cubist," he tells a select preview guests. And now, a reluctant cubist, Offo escapes into Freedom of sculptures, but still retains his signature as an artist with bold features in figure rendition. In the exhibition are also, a set of abstract pieces and forms generated through flow of colours, which he groups as Splash. And under Sketches are portraits done with conte on paper, burdened in painterly shades of drawing strokes. 

 From Flip, an expression of self-esteem; to Hope I, Hope II, expectancy in elongated busts series; and minimalism impressions Mutual Respect, Offo steps into a bronze sculpture period of his career. And adding to this new period are, among others, a trace of his cubist identity, in Sweet Conversation; and simplified figural of joyous mood, Happy People, all expressed in wrought iron and stainless steel.

 Though showing his sculpture work in public for the first time, the artist discloses that sculpturing has always been part oi his studio work. "It's not as if I never did sculpture, but I just didn't show them." As his cubism period was inspired by the 20th century master of the movement, Pablo Picasso, so the attempt at sculpture. "The day I knew Picasso did quite a lot of sculpture, it was like a freedom day for me," Offo recalls.

 However, the air of Freedom at Wheatbaker, to a large extent is still populated with the artist's cubist identity. His bold features-style of cubism continues with paintings such as Woman with Scarf, Once Upon A Time, Reclining Woman with Newspaper and Story Teller, among others that stress the essence of colour on Lagos art landscape.  

 Sponsored by Veuve Clicquot and the Wheatbaker, the exhibition represents the mood of the Nigerian people. "The theme of the exhibition reflects the challenges we go through as a people," Obiago states. She notes "Freedom is a special exhibition" that is important in marking the fifth anniversary of "Wheatbaker as art destination hotel in Nigeria."
A wrought iron and stainless steel sculpture titled Happy People by Gbenga Offo
 In a pres statement, the hotel takes pride in being a space for creative expression. We are proud to have created a dynamic platform for international and local artists to experiment and present new creative expressions, commented Mosun Ogunbanjo,  a Director of the luxury hotel.  We will continue to ensure that despite Nigerias current economic recession, the Wheatbaker provides quality services and strengthens creativity and innovation.

  Offo, b. 1957, graduated as best Art and Graphic Student from the  Yaba College of Technology in Lagos in 1984. He worked for a decade as an illustrator for leading advertising agencies Lintas and Insight Communications, before becoming a full time studio artist in 1996. Offo has taken part in numerous solo and group exhibitions in the United Kingdom and Nigeria, and his works are in many leading corporate and public collections.

Timeless... Akpokona's steps towards mastery of lighting

By Tajudeen Sowole
A first solo art exhibition for Tega Akpokona comes with bold, though shadow of some of his mentors. But an artist who has a determination to step beyond the initial unavoidable influence of his masters is also loud in the brushings of Akpokona.
Give Us This Day
Oil On Canvas / 44 X 40 Inches / 2016
An artist with faint texture of impressionism, Akpokona whose solo, Timeless opened yesterday at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos, is denouncing isms of any kind for broader freedom of expression. Art, he argues, should not be confined to movements or any group ideology. That’s quite a familiar argument common among most artists of contemporary age. 

However, Akpokona appears to be working his talk as seen in some of the works during a preview of the exhibition. Despite a toning style that leans towards European renaissance classic period, the young artist's application of light, particularly in softening and highlighting imagery could just be his strong asset in the brushing and paletting business.

Thematically, Akpokona brings onto canvas issues that set people thinking beyond narrow partisan of politics and ethnic bigotry. Also, his love for artisans and cottage industry is of interest.
  One of his works titled Give Us This Day, rendition of a queue of IDPs lining up to collect food should make sympathisers of those who benefits from Dasuki-gate do a self-assesement of their moral values. "It is my visual way of expressing concerns that we have refugees in our country," Akpokona tells his guests ahead of the exhibition. 

 And just in case the sympathizers of Dasuki-gate and their beneficiaries still do not understand the catastrophe caused by diversion of fund meant for Nigerian army's fight against Boko Haram terrorists, Akpokona adds: "farmers who should be producing foods have been displaced, and are now begging for foods." Lit in the artist's technique of highlighting, which creates both silhouetted and illuminated images from the figures, Give Us This Day captures tragedy of a whole region in northeast Nigeria that was prevented from three seasons of farming as a result of Boko Haram insurgency. 

 As much as Akpokona's works are heavily laced with thought provoking themes, the essence of art as an embodiment of conversation and aesthetic values are not missing. This much exists in works such as Allegory of the Receiving Ends, Refulgence and Sanguine Whispers, among others.

 Basically, the artist's palette has a loud colour for the cottage and non-formal sector of Nigerian work force. "Industrious and artisan people inspire my work," he says.

 Akpokona's bio: he is an outstanding and talented young Nigerian emerging artist. He lives and works in Lagos. He graduated with a Bachelor in Art Degree, from the University of Benin, Nigeria, in 2011. Subsequently, He became a protégé under the mentorship of master Nigerian artist Abiodun Olaku at the Universal Studios of Art. Viewing His paintings, the viewer is allured by the creative use of light interplayed with rich subtle, colours, capturing the depth of human emotions. His works can be found in prestigious private collections Nigeria, in the UK and in the US.
Tega Akpokona
 Selected Exhibitions and Awards - Empower 54 African Art Charity Gala', Atlanta GA, USA, 2016 -Affordable Art Auction' Arthouse Contemporary, February 2016 -"EMERGINGARTISTAWARD", SocietyofNigeriaArtists2015 - Society of Nigerian artist "October rain" art exhibition, Lagos, 2014 -"Home coming", a salon by contemporary Nigerian artists, Abuja, 2014 -ArtintheHouse,Abuja,2013 -"Unforgettable Treasures" miniature artfair, Lagos, 2009.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Memories from Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi’s art-philanthropy

In 2012, during a Soiree organised by Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi in honour of David Herbert Dale, the artist (left) presents one of his works, a foil titled King Tortoise to Gbadamosi and his wife.

Founder of Yusuf Grillo Pavilion, Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi (left) giving the guest speaker of the event, Prof Ola Oloidi a Grillo Pavilion Award. The event was in 2012 at the fourth edition of Yusuf Grillo Pavilion, which celebrated modern uli art exponent, Uche Okeke.

Chief Gbadamosi, a playwright, passionate art patron and an industrialist died in Lagos on Wednesday, November 16, 2016. 

ANBUKRAFT honours creative professionals in Anambra

Hon Bob-Manuel Udokwu receiving an award from Dr Krydz Ikwuemesi, courtesy of 2016 edition of Anambra Book and Creativity Festival (ANBUKRAFT), in Awka…recently. Other awardees included VC of University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Prof Benjamin Ozumba; The Guardian’s Arts and Culture writer, Tajudeen Sowole; Quintessence Gallery Curator, Moses Ohiomokhare; MD of Crunchies, Mr Jude Nwosu; and actor/ author, Greg Mbajiorgu.