Tuesday, 31 May 2016

LagosPhoto designer, Adeyemi is Recipient of Venice Silver Lion Award

Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi has won  Silver Lion awarded for his Makoko Floating School at the ongoing Venice Architecture Biennale.
akoko Floating School

Recall that Adeyemi designed the outdoor exhibition for LagosPhoto in 2010.

Monday, 30 May 2016

First Nigerian Pavilion at Venice Architectural Biennale by Ola-Dele Kuku

Arthouse Contemporary is pleased to announce its support of the Nigerian Pavilion, entitled Diminished Capacity at the ongoing Venice Architectural Biennale, in Italy, featuring the work of Nigerian artist and architect Ola-Dele Kuku. The event started from May 26, ending November 27, 2016 at  the Spazio Punch - Guidecca, Venice, Italy.  
Work of artist-architect, Ola-Dele Kuku at Venice Architectural Bienniale

The work, Diminished Capacity marks the first time that Nigeria has had a dedicated pavilion at a Venice Biennale edition.

The Commissioner of the Nigerian Pavilion is Nkanta George Ufot, Director, International Cultural Relations, Ministry of Information and Culture. The Nigerian Pavilion is curated by Camilla Boemio, with associate curator Mr. Koku Konu and project manager Fabrizio Orsini. Colaborators and sponsors include the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Abuja Nigeria; Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Rome Italy; Arthouse Contemporary Ltd, Lagos Nigeria; KU Leuven - St Lucas Architecture (Int Master’s Programme, Gent, Belgium; LMS Gallery, Brussels, Belgium, and Phillipe Laeremans Tribal Art Gallery, Brussels, Belgium.

Exhibition promotion and communication is supported by Arthouse Contemporary Ltd, Lagos, Nigeria. For more information, please contact Joseph Gergel by email at joseph@arthouse-ng.com.

Please visit the website of the Nigerian Pavilion at www.nigerianpavilion.org.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Davies-Okundaye, TY Bello, Others Standing Out For Feminism

By Tajudeen Sowole
 Nike Davies-Okundaye, TY Bello, Nnenna Okore, Wura Natasha Ogunji, Tyna Adebowale, Ranti Bamgbala,  Carey Godwin, Taiye Idahor, Zemaye Okediji, Obiageli Okigbo and Karin Troy are ladies making the difference to defeat gender 'imbalance' in art environment.
Beads work titled Celebration by Nike Davies-Okundaye

More interesting, the gathering themed Standing Out, which is currently showing works by the ladies till August 15, 2016 at Temple Muse, Victoria Island, Lagos assemble visual arts contents across the genres.
From painting, mixed media, photography, to design, sculpture and performance art, the artistes whose individual skill suggests incendiary of creativity are, perhaps, not exactly proving any thing new in feminism within the art practice context in Nigeria.
 However, the gathering is important to stress the uniqueness of Nigerian female artists as regards visibility. Curated by Sandra Mbanefo Obiago, the show, according to the curator, brings into focus the resilience of women artists in the country compared to her depiction in other climes. 

  "Female artists are strong in Nigeria compared to other places," she declares during preview of the show. "In Nigeria, more women have art exhibitions."  

 For Standing Out, the artists highlight issues on feminism and equality, "What echoes through all the works is energy, resilience, interconnections and overlapping memories and identities, with rich visual metaphors of breaking boundaries across psychological, physical and emotional landscapes," says Obiago.
 One of the unique aspects of the exhibition comes from master textile artist, Davies-Okundaye whose work in beads would appear strange to not a few followers of her art. A beads work by Davies-Okundaye would hardly come to anyone’s mind, particularly for an artist who is widely known for textile and painting.
  Titled Celebration, the work captures ecstatic crowd, complemented by the artists' high key technique in lighting.
 Still on shifting from usual signature, Okore brings into the gathering something different from her regular sculpture made of burlap. Though the medium, for her works presented in the show is pastel, in drawing rendition, the fabric theme of which her work is known for remains the same. In fact, the works titled AshoEbi series continues the artist's consistence in expressionism on the richness of native African fabrics.    
The Stare by Tyna Adebowale

 In the works of TY Bello, dualism is expressed as the photographer mattes two scenes from different times to share some space. Made possible with digital technique, one of the works from what she calls Intersection Series is a self-portrait lifted in to share same space with Nigerian diva, Asa.
 Now that the Nigerian performance art space is quietly raising its head in the last few years, Natasha Ogunji's name comes into reckoning.  But Standing Out here with others, the Diaspora artist adds quite a number of paintings to her contribution. It's still an extension of her performance, she tells guests during the preview. "Yes, there is a connection with my performance." The works explain the artist's thoughts on vision and imagination within the context of migration.
   From Idahor's major solo exhibition Hairvolution at Whitespace, Ikoyi in 2014, the artist continues her thoughts on hair and the values. For Stepping Out, the work is less texturised, perhaps, generating varieties for the same theme.

   Photography takes a more conceptual tone in underwater pieces by Okediji, whose technique adds painterly texture to the lens art. And when she shares her feeling about the ambience of under water, the artist's passion in search of uncommon medium of expression comes into focus. Largely of what she describes as personal experience, the works place feminism on self-assessment.
 From Yoruba and Greek mythologies, U.K-based sculptor, Bamgbala distils what appears like a contemporary texture of pottery. Her kind of rendition, potentially, has the prospects of generating interest to revive the traditional role of women in the pottery profession. 

 Feminism becomes bolder and daring with Adebowale's ink portraits: either in The Stare, a heavily made face with bold braids as well as a topless piece.
 For the Temple Muse space and the feminine tone of the exhibition, Troy's design pieces come as a strong complement in jewelry in such works as Onitsha Bride and The World in Her Hands.

 Remember the late poet, Christopher Okigbo? Yes, the memory of the civil war period of the great poet reverberates in his daughter, Obiageli who brings visual interpretation of her father's poetry on to the canvas. Among her works is a nine set of ladies portraits rendered in pop art painting.

 "I have always believed that women across the globe stand out," Mbanefo Obiago insists. "Women in Africa stand out even more in the midst of immense pressures." She supports her argument with experience of many years working at "the cutting edge of environment and development issues." 

 The attraction for the curator, she discloses, is that the works of the exhibiting artists "echoe energy, resilience, interconnections and overlapping memories and identities, with rich visual metaphors of breaking boundaries across psychological, physical and emotional landscapes."

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Most- priced Nigerian painting ever goes to auction

Ben Enwonwu’s “Spirit of Ogolo” is estimated to fetch up to N63 million and may even exceed this figure when the sale opens on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at Bonhams in London, U.K.
This, according to valuers, makes it the most expensively estimated Nigerian art work to be offered for auction.

Spirit of Ogolo by Ben Enwonwu

This treasure trove of Nigerian master paintings and historical portraits are being shown in a prestigious Victoria Island Gallery prior to their auction in London.

Giles Peppiatt, Bonhams Director of Modern African Art will be available for interview and can explain the international market for modern Nigerian and African art. A selection of paintings including “Spirit of Ogolo” will be available for photography and all images available on request.

Other highlights include:

Demas Nwoko. Only four paintings by the Zaria master Demas Nwoko have ever appeared for sale on the open market. So, for Nigerian art collectors this is a once in a lifetime opportunity not to be missed. “Adam & Eve” is estimated to fetch up to Naira 12.5 million.

Yusuf Grillo. Prof. Grillo is recognised as one of Nigeria’s most important living artists. “Street Musicians” is an evocative rendering of Nigerian culture.

Dorothea, Viscountess Head. Two exceptionally rare portraits by the wife of Britain’s first High Commissioner to newly independent Nigeria are offered. They depict Sir Abubakar Balewa and Sir Ahmadu Bello. These legendary leaders who feature on the Nigerian bank notes were crucial to the founding of the Nigerian state.

We can provide you with an image of the highest price work by Ben Enwonwu if you wish ?   In my talk I touched on the fact that the market for modern Nigerian art in London is as strong as we have known it.  I also suggested that rather like the recent increase in the price of Gold (to which art can be compared) this could be as a result of people’s instinct to look for hard assets.

How Enwonwu, Grillo Got New Art Auction Records In Lagos

By Tajudeen Sowole
Again, art has proven its resilience in a challenging economic environment such as Nigeria's current situation as two Nigerian masters, Ben Enwonwu (1921-1994) and Yusuf Grillo, born 1934, each made record sales with their paintings during art auction in Lagos.
Lead sale for N42 million naira, a painting, Obitun Dancers ny Ben Enwonnu (1921-1994)

 For Enwonwu, it was a 1990 painting titled Obitun Dancers sold for N46 million naira during the 16th edition of Arthouse Contemporary Limited auction. With the May 2016 sale at The Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi,  Enwonwu, who was the first African artist to sculpt the Queen of England, Elizabeth II in 1956, is still the highest priced Nigerian artist on the secondary art market. Prior to the May 2016 edition of Arthouse auction, the same artist held Nigerian art auction record with sculpture titled Anyanwu, sold for over N28 million naira in 2012.

 Also, Grillo, born 1934 made his Nigerian record sale with a 1999/2002-dated painting, Threatened Innocence, which was sold for N16 million. Interestingly, both sales were achieved via telephone biddings on a night when there seemed to be more buyers aiming for premium prices.

More interesting, it was a night dominated by premium sales of Enwonwu's works: two watercolour on paper paintings, Haze and African Dance Ensemble dated 1972 and 1960 were each sold for N8 million naira.

 From a metal foil by master printmaker Bruce Onobrakpeya, Greater Nigeria sold for N9.2 at Arthouse Contemporary's maiden edition in 2008, to Enwonwu's Anyanwu and now Obitun Dancers, all by the same auction house, art has been consistent in, quietly though, contributing to the Nigerian economy. In fact, Arthouse's November 2015 auction held at the same venue recorded N130, 611, 250 million naira, which was a rocord total sales for the auction house. As at the time of going to press, the total sales for the May 2016 sales was not available. But with so many premium sales recorded, it would not be a surprise if the figure beats the previous edition.

 For those interested in the study of Ewonwu's periods, Obitun Dancers, a late painting offers so much to chew: drastic change in the artist's texture of colour from conservative toning of the 1960s/70z to this loud and darker shades. A red and yellow dominance in the dancing figures against dark blue of blurred background, sandwiching another figure in brownish dark are, unusual combination for Enwonwu. Perhaps, the unusual texture of Obitun Dancers has one possible explanation: the much-hyped 1990s Lagos art landscape of 'brilliant' colour, crept into the master's palettes and brushing. It is of note that dance, as a theme in Enwonwu's paintings, is such a legendary one that the artist has touched quite some other cultures outside his Igbo origin.
 With Threatened Innocence, Grillo continues his subtle cubic style figural form in bluish striking hues that have become a strong identity for him. Indeed, no artist, on the Nigerian art scene has as much strong licence to dramatise figural forms as Grillo, so confirms Threatened Innocence, a painting that spanned three years across two centuries to complete.

 The 100 lots on sales for the auction included works by Demas Nwoko, Onobrakpeya, Ato Delaquis, Kolade Oshinowo, Abayomi Barber, Gani Odutokun, Ben Osawe, and Akinola Lasekan. Also on display were pieces by Rom Isichei, Peju Alatise, Sokari Douglas Camp, Ndidi Dike and Modupe Fadugba as well as that of  non-Nigerian artists such as  Ghanaian master, Ablade Glover, Dominique Zimkpe, Paul Onditi, Kofi Agorsor, Mohammed Abba Gana, Paa Joe and Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou, among others.

Onobrakpeya, Over 30 artists Go Affordable

By Tajudeen Sowole
In expanding art appreciation beyond the traditional premium scale, 38 artists - across generations - are displaying their works under a modest platform to encourage young and new collectors. Tagged Affordable Art Show, it's a gathering of mostly miniature pieces in painting and sculpture, which is showing from May 27-June 11, 2016 at Mydrim Gallery, southwest Ikoyi.
The Spirit of  Broad Street oil canvas, paper by   Oladimeji  Oluwafunke

 Among the exhibiting artists are Dr Bruce Onobrakpeya, Segun Adesanya, Suraj Adekoya, Okosun Adesua, Ayobola Kekere-Ekun, Olufemi Kayo, Joshua Nmesirionye, Johnson Uwadinma, Wahab Aromire, Andrew Alhamdulilahi and Oladimeji Oluwafunke, among others.

 The gallery, which is known for showing specific exhibitions such as the yearly Pastel appears to have found additional brand to its list of shows, perhaps, peculiar to the gallery. In fact,  director at Mydrim Gallery, Mrs Sinmidele Adesanya hinted that the Affordable Show could hold twice or quarterly in a year. "The situation of the economy that we are in now calls for Affordable," she told select preview guests few days ago. "So, the target of the show are young collectors who like to derive pleasure from affordable collections." 

 Aligning with the reality of the local economy as well as encouraging modest collecting of art, Affordable Art Show, according Adesanya offer prizes that are indeed within competitive red tags such as "ranging from as small as N5,000 to medium price like N250,000."

 However, the dynamics of the art market also creates opportunity for speculators to use Affordable in making large collections. "But the small collection of today," Adesanya added, could be the big sales of tomorrow. 

 Apart from the economic or affordability factor, most of the works for the exhibition appear like some pieces that would come as mental rescue in period of distress. Among such works on display during the preview is a small painting of classic texture titled The Family House, by Oluwafunke. Captured in what looks like a dawn or dust period, the one floor building in a quiet rural setting radiates serenity and calmness, an aura that could be a relief balm in period of stress and tension.

 Interestingly, Oluwafunke's smooth brush painting confirms increase in number of young artists, particularly in Lagos, who are returning to the basics of painting. More so that the current local blue-eyed boy of classic canvas, Olumide Oresegun's water drips and splash effects are gaining more popularity.

  Still on the canvas that resists realism, a naturalist painting, among such works on display at the Affordable Art Show preview is a medium size piece titled To The Farm by Olufemi Kayo. For those who want to escape from the stress of the city without physically leaving the urban environment, the painting, which depicts greenery and calmness of forestry, indeed offers a mental trip to village setting where natural atmosphere resides.

 And quite amazing that the gallery is the curatorial style of displaying as many as 200 pieces of paintings and sculptures, all directly from the exhibiting artists. This, perhaps, shows the level of commitment of the artists in promoting  affordable collection.

 Among other exhibiting artists are Kehinde Badmus, Uzomaka Nnuji,  Opedun Damilola, Osifeso Ezekiel,  Yemi Uthman, Salako Olajide, Opedun Damilola and Mufu Apoyin.

Art, Culture Celebrate Master Textile Artist, Okundaye at 65

In the past one week, activities marking the 65th anniversary of renowned textile artist and culture icon, Chief Mrs. Nike Okundaye, have attracted quite a lot of artists and lovers of culture in Lagos.
Chief Mrs Nike Okundaye

 Started from May 15, the celebration activities have been holding at the artist's space, Nike Gallery in Lekki, as artists, mostly those who have benefited directly or indirectly from her mentorship joined the mentor in the week-long celebration. 

According to the artist's media office, programmes of the event at her gallery involved some art writers featuring in Artist Talk. Also on the list was a one week art exhibition and a gathering for traditional rulers and members of the diplomatic corps, among other activities slated to take place.

The statement added: "On the cards for the celebration of Mrs Okundaye's birthday is an evening of cultural performances and gathering of creative minds to enthrall her with razzmatazz and encomium.

 "The event promises to be an avenue whereby art collectors and captains in the corporate sector as well as friends of the artist will mingle taking arts to another level in the humanities."
  Speaking about her celebration, Okundaye states: "I thank God for my life. Though, the challenge is there, which we face every day, but an opportunity like this affords one to look back and thank God for what He has done for me. That is why this kind of event is dear to my heart. Apart from that, I am using it to appreciate my Maker for His mercies and kindness. I also want to use it to host my colleagues in the arts.

 Okundaye, who is a native of Ogidi Ijumu, Kogi State used the occasion of her celebration to stress the importance of faith from the cradle of her career till date.  I am an ardent believer that the height that we reach in this world is not as a result of our making alone but God who helps us to achieve such thing in life. Now, at 65, I will tell you that God has been good to me. Whatever one finds in life is for a moment, no condition is permanent."

 She also thanked those who have supported her. "It is always good to cherish those who have been with you. We know that our destiny is not in our hands. This gives me a lot of strength to go on everyday despite challenges. I did not have much to say but I want to use this event to thank God and celebrate with the art community. What I have achieved is also because I stayed focused to this goal and my love for the arts."

 She had advice for young artists: "I also want to advise our younger artists that things may not look good today, but they should continue. Challenges are things that drive us to our ultimate destiny." 

   Born on May 23, 1951, Okundaye is the chief executive of Nike Centre for Art and Culture, Osogbo, where she offers free training to Nigerians in various forms of arts.  She is also the founder of the Nike Art Gallery Lagos and Abuja. 

 In 1996, as a way of empowering Ogidi women, she established a textile (aso-oke) weaving centre in her hometown.  More than 200 women have so far benefitted from that initiative. Yearly, she brings foreign dignitaries to her hometown in Ogidi.  

 Okundaye holds the traditional titles of Yeye Oba of Ogidi, YeyeTayese of Osogbo and YeyeGbasaga of Ijumu. She is  a member of the Society of Nigerian Artists, (SNA) Society of Nigerian Women Artists, Osun Support Groove.
 She has won one of the highest Italian national awards, which she was given in appreciation of her efforts in using arts to address and solve the problems of Nigerian commercial sex workers in Italy.