Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Lagos auction displays young, old artists

The preview of Terra Kulture Mydrim Gallery (TKMG) auction is currently ongoing as the sales hold on Friday, May 1, 2015 at Terra Kulture Mulitupurpose Hall, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Kolade Oshinowo’s Aso-Ebi 

The auction will feature 90 artworks cutting across various media, artists and countries. TKMG auction was conceived in 2010 to create a platform for promoting the best of African art with primarily focus on Nigeria.

Mr. Yinka Akinkugbe, a seasoned auctioneer, will conduct the sales, which features works of Bruce Onobrakpeya, Abayomi Barber, Kolade Oshinowo, Ablade Glover, among the old masters. And as the auction house is responsible for promoting emerging artists, the sales include the works of Olawunmi Banjo, Olumide Onadipe and Oyewole Olufemi, among other young artists.

“Over the years, the auction house has sold works from artists like Ben Enwonwu, El Anatsui, Ben Osawe, Erhabor Emokpae, Lamidi Fakeye to mention a few,” Ronke Akinyele, Curator at Terra Kulture Art Gallery, stated. “We hope to have many art professionals and many visitors attend the art auction and we believe it is an essential place for professionals, collectors and artists to meet."

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Africa Now auction goes bi-annual

By Tajudeen Sowole

After seven editions, Africa Now auction, which has been holding yearly in London, U.K since 2008 expands its sales from once to twice every year starting from next month. Organised by one of Europe's leading auction houses, Bonhams, Africa Now also has a new look in segmentation of the sales into Modern and Contemporary.

'African Woman with Gele by Yusuf Grillo
Director at Bonhams, Giles Peppiatt who was in Lagos few days ago stated that market force has compelled the auction house to expand the scope of Africa Now from once a year sale to twice. "We have a sale on May 20, which is Africa Now: Modern Africa, and another on October 15, Africa Now: Contenporary Africa" Peppiatt disclosed shortly after addressing a select guests at Alara Contemporary, Victoria Island, Lagos.  The Africa Now Contemporary, Peppiatt said, is meant to serve a section of collectors.

 Earlier, in a presentation titled Nigeria at the Centre of a New Scramble for Africa, Peppiatt noted that art from Nigeria is playing a leading role in the ongoing increase in value of African artists. He cautioned that the 21 century  scramble for Africa is not about the balkanisation of the continent that paved way for colonialism, but about the rich art of the continent. "Not for land or gold or diamonds this time, but for art. It is a rather different kind of tussle and one that is making art a viable occupation for artists across Africa." 

Recalling the journey of Africa Now auction, Peppiatt noted how "the market has changed beyond recognition in that time." His presence in Lagos, he disclosed, was to assess the last eight years and "take stock and look at the African art market; what has been achieved and what we might expect to come."

 Nigeria, he insisted,  "has led the way in this revolution with artists and prices that have dominated the results coming out of Africa." He noted that Bonhams has, since the Africa Now auction, given artists from West Africa world auction records. "We have set world records for all major artists in this field: Ben Enwonwu; Yusuf Grillo, El Anatsui, Kolade Oshinowo, Uche Okeke the list goes on and on."

Sharing the Bonhams experience in African art auction at international market, Peppiatt argued that prior to the Africa Now sales, "Modern and Contemporary African art had not really been seen in London or on the international market before and certainly had not been marketed in such a prestigious manner." Indeed, he was slightly correct, at least within the argument of lack of art market for modern and contemporary African art. However, art from Africa, particularly modernity, were not exactly strange to the west, given the exploit of Osogbo breed of artists such as Jimoh Buraimoh, Twin Seven Seven, Muraina Oyelami, among others in the 1970s/80s, across Europe and U.S.

 Arguably, the last eight years has changed the market value of African art, both in Nigeria and the International scene. QUite a lot of energy has been invested to boost the market. "With all the attendant events, such as receptions and dinners, we found that international and African collectors were delighted to view these works and even more delighted to purchase the best examples for what they perceived to reasonable prices,"Peppiatt explained.

And the prospect keeps showing bright future. "The fact is that modern and contemporary African art is today one of the hottest properties on the art block." In fact he predicted that  "Africa is the new China when it comes to art." He traced the prospect of African art to the interest by institutions of high repute based in the west.  "When the Tate, the Smithsonian and other similar institutions start openly acquiring Contemporary African Art, then one knows that something strange and wonderful has occurred and that real change is in the air." 

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Lines of Destiny, According To Adenaike, Anidi

By Tajudeen Sowole

Although Tayo Adenaike and Obiora Anidi are of the same generation, the artistic expression of each artist represents crucial periods in art period, so suggest the contents of the artists' exhibition titled Akalaka: Lines of Destiny, currently showing till July 15, 2015 at The Wheatbaker, Ikoyi, Lagos. Adenaike, a painter exudes modernism characteristics while Anidi, sculptor leans towards contemporary expressions.

 ‘Down, Not Out’ (Marble, concrete and metal) by Obiora Anidi

However, the two artists share something in common in their passion for promoting uli and nsibidi, native Igbo visual languages that are struggling to keep pace with contemporaneity. Curated by Sandra Mbanefo-Obiago, and sponsored by Wheatbaker, Global Energy Company Ltd. and Ruinart, the exhibition is the artists' second two-man show in 31 years.

Adenaike, a watercolourist whose mastery of the fluid paint and paper surface demystifies the challenges watercolour painting brings to native Igbo motifs in synergy with modernists lines to energise a blend of painterly, but largely drawing skills. His stylised figures, mostly in portraitures strengthen the resilience of lines in appropriating forms. This much is stressed in works such as ‘A Street Person Clad in Green’, ‘Acceptance of Green’ and ‘Our Hope’.

In other works such as ‘Night of Passage’, ‘Not Enough to Eat’ and ‘A Face Under Transformation’, the artist flaunts his adopted-Igbo culture motifs and designs. "I still belong to the uli and nsibidi design elements," Adenaike boasts to select guests at a preview of the exhibition. The artist's thematic appropriation of subjects using the native Igbo elements cut across culture. For example, one of the works, ‘Right of Passage’, he recalls, is a revisit of an experience in Maiduguri, Northeastern Nigeria in 1972. He says it was a scene where men were being flogged in public to test their strength in readiness for marriage.

For Anidi, his sculptures that are rendered in a mixed of marble, concrete and metal, are strikingly minimalistic just as the stylised figures are sandwiched between ancient African artistic expressions and contemporaneity. Embellished in analogous contents, most of his works speak volume in contentious space. For example, a three-piece titled Ayia Ike, mounted at the immediate entrance of the Wheatbaker lobby, he says, "is about youthful exuberance," which could be compared to "a nation that has so much potentials but does not know what to do with it."
From modernists like Uche Okeke and others who started promoting uli, at University of Nigeria, Nsukka, to the next generation such as Anidi, Nsikak Essien, Krydz Ikwuemesi, Ndidi Dike and Chinwe Uwatse, it does appear that the momentum is declining further into the dominance of contemporary practice. In the efforts of the middle generation of uli enthusiasts to spread the identity, late Peter Areh led artists such as Dike, Okey Nwafor, Ikwuemesi and Udeani to Graz, Austria in 2011 for a group exhibition titled Politics of Culture: Re-engaging uli. But in the contemporary practice, which keeps exposing how some artists don't even want to be identified as 'African artists', what is the future of uli and nsibidi? "Young artists are too much in a haste to learn," Anidi argues. But despite the apathy, the native Igbo contents, he assures will get stronger.    
 And as contemporaneity appears to be growing ticker in texture, some artists from modern and post-modern eras keep blurring the lines, challenging critics who confine artists within a specific space or period, most often based on age of the artists. Anidi is one of such artists, whose works, showing at Akalaka… are explicitly contemporary: his works collapse the barrier that defines artists in periodic terms.

Apart from being the second-generation exponents of uli and nsibidi apostles, Adenaike and Anidi are among the members of once famous AKA, a group of exhibiting artists that was active in the 1980s through 1990s. Quite a lot has happened between the 1990s and now that seemed to have blurred AKA out of action. It took the curiosity of Nbanefo- Obiago to exhume Adenaike and Anidi.
                          Tayo Adenaike’s ‘Our Hope Lies in the Begotten Son’ (watercolour)

"Over a year ago, I went in search of two masters in Eastern Nigeria,” the curator discloses. “I was determined to find these two unusual artists who had important global reputation, but had not had a major showing in the Nigerian art scene for over a decade."
The exhibition, she explains, stresses “our creative platform in showcasing both emerging talent, as well as honors those master artists who have had a major influence on Nigerian art."
  She notes that destiny has again brought the two artists together after three decades of showing together in the same city. "Interestingly, both artists held a joint exhibition at the Italian Cultural Center in Lagos 31 years ago. It is indeed Akalaka: Following their Destiny that they are exhibiting together again. And we all stand to gain from this renewed excellent collaboration."

Adenaike studied Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, where he obtained a Bachelor's degree in Fine Art, in 1979, and a Master of Fine Art degree in Painting, in 1982. A third generation artist of the Nsukka School following in the uli painting tradition pioneered by Uche Okeke and Obiora Udechukwu, Adenaike has developed his own visual idiom and mastery of watercolor technique. In his predominant fluid medium, his keen sense of design and composition give strength and character to his paintings.

He has held 20 solo exhibitions and participated in more than 42 group exhibitions in Nigeria, the United States, England and Germany. In 1997- 1998, he was one of the artists showcased in the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of African Art's "Poetics of Line: Seven Artists of the Nsukka Group" Exhibition. His paintings are in public museum collections in the United States, Germany and Nigeria, and in private art collections in 17 countries; notably, the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution and the Museum der Weltkulturen, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Adenaike lives and works in Enugu, Eastern Nigeria. Unique among artists in Eastern Nigeria, his Yoruba heritage and artistic sensibility are enriched and layered by his immersion and fluency in Igbo culture and language. Adenaike runs a successful advertising business and paints mostly at night and on weekends.

ANIDI is a Chief Lecturer at the Fine and Applied Art Department, Enugu State College of Education. He is also the Chairman of Board, Enugu State Council for Arts and Culture, and a Member, Local Organizing Committee of the annual Life in My City Art Festival, Enugu, which has provided an important platform for many young Nigerian emerging artists since 2007. He graduated with a Higher National Diploma in Fine and Applied Art & Sculpture from the Institute of Management & Technology (IMT) in 1982. He also holds a Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Educational Technology, from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Enugu State University of Technology, respectively.

One of the founding members of the famous AKA Circle of Exhibiting Artists, Anidi is a celebrated sculptor from the uli tradition who has taken part in many local and international art exhibitions in Nigeria, USA, Jamaica, Germany, and Italy. His works are in numerous private and corporate art collections in Nigeria and abroad.

Anidi’s powerful sculptures are recognized and prized in the Nigerian contemporary art tradition, “their lucid, figurative and abstract formal language tends to blend with their ambiguous titles to make the viewer understand the physical experiences that he has translated into sculptural expressions,” according to Dr. Eva Obodo of the University of Nigeria Nsukka’s Fine & Applied Arts Department.
Anidi’s artistic legacy is documented in local and international publications including the Okike Journal of New African Writing, UCLA Quarterly Journal, U.S., and in the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of African Art publication, Nigerian Artists Who’s Who.

How Oshilaja controls multiculturalism influence on his art

By Tajudeen Sowole

United Kingdom-based artist, Damilola Oshilaja whose thematic content is strengthened by the multiculturalism space of his foreign base hopes to share the dynamics of his canvas with art enthusiasts back home in Nigeria. Oshilaja has 13 years experience in full-time studio practice. Quite a lot of artists are being influenced or inspired daily by the wind of multiculturalism blowing across most cities of the world. In fact, native identity and cultural leaning is blurring such that some artists would rather, for example, prefer to be known as 'simply an artist and not African artist.'
                           Landscape Redux by Damilola Oshilaja

Oshilaja, a painter whose work leans more towards abstraction sees the presence of  multiculturalism to enhance ce his "as something that I actively explore and exploit in my work,"  he says via Internet chat.. "Cities are places where cultural perspectives collide in architecturally defined spaces, as well as the natural landscape; and this dynamic is interesting."

The flavour of diverse cultural space appears so strong such that most artists' themes can't resist submitting to the direction dictated by such complex environment. For Oshilaja, as glaring as multicultural spaces are, they  shouldn't shape the artist's work, but could contribute in enhancement..  He notes that multicultural "environment contributes to, (rather than shape) the multi-aesthetic approach of my work." Specifically, he explains, "it offers little to my choice of themes or technique."  

Between the human factor - in a diverse cultural space - and how his choice of technique blends with the overall content, personal experience in solving challenges also plays a key role.  "My choice of theme is more affected by the human experience in-general, and technique is something that has evolved over time through my own life story, and overcoming the challenges in engineering the content of my art."

Very few artists from Africa who emigrate to Europe and the U.S live on their art as a full-time job. Being a full-time studio artist in a place like the U.K, Oshilaja "looks forward to seeing art ascend to a higher sense of significance in society.". Creativity, he argues, should go beyond an expression. "I want transformations of the sensibilities of the profession to go beyond a discipline of ‘mere expression of feeling’ and into “a science of aesthetics.” 
Beyond aesthetic value, the influence or contribution of art to the world's developmental progression is often undermined, particularly in contemporary period, suggesting that the Renaissance era has been forgotten so soon. But Oshinlaja recalls how "Art was directly responsible for the disposition, format, and formations of civilization."  And to keep the relevance of art alive, he suggests:  "Art should be as much of core subject of study as English, Math or Science.  It is the domain for the organic exercise of creativity." Instilling the creativity of art at academic levels across the board goes further to impact on the society at large, he says. And being creative, he adds, goes beyond art and cuts across other disciplines "I don’t see this non-art field - everything is impacted by art, after all it is not only in the arts that one can be creative.  Thinking creatively is what innovation is about, and innovation enables advancement.  The rule of law is as much a creative endeavour as that of the emergence of a renaissance in art."

Two of Oshilaja's works viewed via soft copies, a painting titled Blue Planet (New World Order) and a monochrome piece (not titled) suggests an artist with abstract impressionism contents. What does contemporaneity means to  his canvas within the context of application of new media in art space as against traditional medium or rendition? "Certainly my work contains abstract and impressionist values," he agrees, but distills his preference in the 18th century movement known as impressionism. "The intensity of light and the calibration of colour central to the impressionists, is a quality I admire, and a focus of investigation within my artistic endeavour."
 Nearly every young painter of traditional or modernist leaning appears to be including video installations as an extension of the canvas, perhaps to be in the contemporary trend. Oshilaja's contextual expression is not an exception. "Art and artists have to respond to their environment, and the digital medium is the new world," he says and discloses specific features in his work. "New media is part of my multi-disciplinary approach. For example, I showed a video installation and paintings at my graduate exhibition four years ago - the first time I did so." He however insists that traditional medium such as painting remains "an overwhelming" content of his work." Contemporaneity to me, is about finding new meaning, and understanding - and a new way to display, and interact with the audience (and the market)." 
 Oshilaja came into focus for this chat after his article about Basquiat was published in The Guardian. Basquiat narrowly missed the dynamics of 21st century art. Would another Basquiat emerge in Oshilaja generation? "I don’t know what the future holds, but rather than referring to the reincarnation of one, I was talking about the birth of many. For me, every Black successful Artist is a Basquiat." Oshilaja argues that the late African-American artist's legacy could have been a movement. "As I wrote, he is an originator - the first of his kind. Everything prior to him, in the timeline of art history was predominantly Eurocentric. But he manages to redress the paradigm in mainstream consciousness." Oshilaja insists that Basquiat "rapidly moves into an aggregated view of the world."  

In preparing to tests the waters if Nigerian art, Oshilaja seems not naïve about the unprecedented growth of art back home in the last one decade. "The Nigerian art scene is seemingly buoyant, and quite dynamic, aesthetically and economically.  It is a testament to the growth that western institutions like Bonham’s Auctioneers (amongst others), are showing keen interest and getting involved with the art landscape in Nigeria, as well as in the diaspora."
 He accepts that now "is a good time to be an artist or a collector, or a broker-of-art in Nigeria." He however notes that art market buoyancy is a global trend, currently. "Nigeria isn’t isolated in this assessment, this is fast becoming a global position for the art economy."

Oshilaja’s bio states in parts: he is a multi-disciplinary artist with a Master of Arts in Fine Art, from University of the Arts, London.  In 2011, Oshilaja was amongst the final collection of eighty-one artists to emerge from the historic Charring Cross Road site of Central Saint Martins College in the heart of London.

He formed Grunge Studios in 1998, and has since had numerous shows in Europe. He has additionally been shortlisted and won a number of awards and honours including The Artists’ and Collectors’ Bursary (UAL).
Born in the London borough of Westminster in the early eighties, Oshilaja is a descendant of the Royal House of Odoru (Southern Province of Ogun, Nigeria) - in the lineage of Princess Ibiyemi Odoru-Oshilaja.
With artistic curiosities developing rapidly from age seven, his aspirations were put at risk when aged eleven he was hospitalised suffering from Polio.
   It was during this period that he became ferociously committed to materialising his artistic dreams. Four years later, after a full recovery; Oshilaja began his professional career as an apprentice to a well-heeled artist, which led to the establishment of a practice in his own right at seventeen.

Grunge Studios is involved with espousing historical core values of fine art through a 21st Century lens, and embodies painting; writing, curatorship, and film.
Since completing the MA in Fine Art, Damilola Oshilaja exhibited in the inaugural edition of The Other Art Fair 2011, an event billed as a showcase of the most talented and emerging artists in the United Kingdom; was appointed Artistic Director for the Nigeria pavilion at The Africa Village in Kensington Gardens, during the Cultural Olympiad in London 2012; and was shortlisted by The Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers.
   His solo art exhibitions include Untitled - Tafeta, London UK (2014); Grunge Studios Print Media Exhibition - Worldly Wicked & Wise, London UK
Arte Grunge (GSPM): La Rencontre - We Are Cuts, London UK (2012); Golden Boy vs The fairies from the dark side of the Moon - Galerie Paname, Stockholm Sweden (2008); The Art Grunge Show - Empire Gallery, London UK (2005); Birth of the New; Birth of the Cool - Nôka International Institute, Stockholm Sweden (2004); Damilola Oshilaja: A selection of pastels and drawings - Chelsea Methodist Church, London UK (1998)
  In 2013, he showed at group exhibitions: The Other Art Fair - Ambika P3, London UK,  Art of Angel - Candid Arts Trust, London UK and Art of Angel - Art Below, Angel Underground, London, UK.