Sunday, 1 May 2016

Orimoloye Returns With 'Iwe'

U.K-based artist, Gbenga Orimoloye continues his yearly show in Lagos after a break last year.
Iwe 4, oil on board (2016, 123 x 82)
His current solo exhibition titled Iwe opens on Saturday May 7, ending 15, 2016 at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos, as the artist suggests a critical probe into the standard or quality of what people acquire as education and knowledge.

For 16th Arthouse auction, premium pieces reign

By Tajudeen Sowole
A 16th edition of Arthouse Contemporary auction, coming in less than three months after introducing Affordable sales, is set to prove the resilience of Lagos art market, even in a troubled economic environment.
The Advent, 2016, Oil on canvas, by Abiodun Olaku.

With Affordable, held in March, the auctioneers added a third sale, making its auctions tri-annual. From May 7-8, 2016 the 16th edition takes off with viewing, which runs into the third day as the sale holds on Monday, 9 at The Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Having separated the Affordable - works that sell below 500,000 - from the premiums, there is an indication that the volume of lots has dropped slightly in number for the coming event. However, the texture or class of lots on sale keeps going higher, so suggests the caliber of artists featured in the 16th edition.
 In a preview statement, Arthouse    notes that as contemporary African art moves to become one of the fastest growing global art markets, the 16th edition "will feature both master works from the modern period and cutting- edge contemporary art from the region’s most celebrated artists." The auction house lists works as including "100 lots featuring modern masters such as Ben Enwonwu, Yusuf Grillo, Demas Nwoko, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Ato Delaquis, Kolade Oshinowo, Abayomi Barber, Gani Odutokun, Ablade Glover, Ben Osawe, and Akinola Lasekan." Also on display for the auction are what has been described as leading contemporary artists, including Rom Isichei, Peju Alatise, Sokari Douglas Camp, Ndidi Dike and Modupe Fadugba.
As Lagos is fast becoming a hub for African art market, non-Nigerian artists whose works are featuring in the auction include   Dominique Zimkpe, Paul Onditi, Kofi Agorsor, Mohammed Abba Gana, Paa Joe and Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou.
  Sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank, Wheatbaker Hotel and Veuve Clicquot, the auction retains its auctioneer, U.K-based John Dabney.
Among the works for sale viewed via soft copies are The Advent, oil on canvas classic of Abiodun Olaku; Isioma, oil on canvas portrait from Isichei; oil on board portraiture, Threatened Innocence by Grilo;  Obitun Dancers, a 1990 painting by Enwonwu; and mixed media Purple Period by Alatise.
The auction, according to Arthouse, will also include three charity lots by artists Uchay Joel Chima, Obinna Makata, and Lekan Onabanjo, in support of Standard Chartered Bank’s 'Seeing is Believing', a NG0 that works to prevent avoidable blindness.
 In recent years, Arthouse Contemporary has expanded beyond its bi-annual auctions to include the Arthouse Foundation, a non-profit organisation that aims to encourage the creative development of contemporary art in Nigeria, and Arthouse-The Space, which organises exhibitions of contemporary art. Arthouse-The Space recently opened a solo exhibition of Nigerian artist Victor Ekpuk, entitled Coming Home, in April 2016, the first solo exhibition of Ekpuk in Nigeria in over a decade. Arthouse Foundation opens its artist residency programme in a dedicated building in Ikoyi in April 2016, which will host artists with live/work studios throughout the year.

Founded in 2007, Arthouse Contemporary is an international auction house that specialises in modern and contemporary art from West Africa. With auctions held twice a year in Lagos, Arthouse Contemporary aims to create awareness of the scope of contemporary art in the region, encourage international recognition towards its talented artists, and strengthen the economy of its art market.

Exporting Mood Colour Harmony of Asidere to Paris

By Tajudeen Sowole
In a three-mission adventure on canvas, the art landscape of  Paris ceedes a spot to the richness of Lagos-based artist, Duke Asidere's first major solo exhibition in France. Asidere's Paris show collapses the essence of art appreciation in simple summary of the emotion attached to a piece of art, the medium and the choice of style.
Stranse Day by Duke Asiere
 Titled Mood Colour Harmony, the exhibition, which opens from May 9, ending 22, 2016 at Maison Muller section of Splendens Factory, Paris, extends the artist's passion for feminine subjects. For nearly too decades, Asidere has used his palette knife in piercing through the good and not too pleasant social fabrics of women, perhaps, using his canvas as a window to view the softer gender's
With simplified figural forms -  uniquely Asidere's - that art connoisseurs and other enthusiasts in Nigeria have celebrated over the decades, it would be of interest to see how Asidere proves the resilience of visual language across cultures and spaces.  A seated two female composite he tittles Women Talk extends Asidere's poetic application of colours in hues, yet generating deep tones that create 3D illusion.  Almost in contrast is Stranse Day, a remorseful capture in divert shades of blues, adding to the artist's skill in explaning moods.
Having established his art as a formidable signature over the past two decades, perhaps, exposing himself to a wider dialogue comes with the propeler to explore new space. "It's about getting fresh assessment of one's work in a new environment," says Asidere during a chate few days ago. "I like the challenge of expanding my scope to new space outside the regular and get new audience."
 The theme of the exhibition, he explains, truly summarises what his work represents. Mood Colour Harmony "basically," he discloses, are the factors that drive his art of "simplicity." How simple has his art been, really? "Just get into my studio and pour out whatever is happening around me."
 Living in a city as active as Lagos where freedom of expression is unrestricted across social stratas, women are naurally, sometimes, become a focus, Asidere sees what others don't notice.  "For me, I look at colours in women," he declares. "I need colours to drive the extraneous."
As crucial as getting an assessment of his work, the women theme, perhaps at this period of his art should have a terminal point, isn't it? "Every artist is drawn, spiritually, to a theme." For Asidere, women themes have spirituality attachment. "I find women very engaging."
For the curator, Bose Fagbeni, the artist as a choice blends with her taste and that of the gallery "I choose Duke because of his style of painting. He has a unique way of painting that is consistent and one can easily recongnise Duke either in his drawings or paintings."
About the title of the show, Fagbemi who is an independent curator notes that Asidere's application of colors has a synergy with "moods and emotions." 
Women Talk by Duke Asidere

With 17 paintings, heading for the walls at Splendens, Asidere's Moods Colours Harmony is the gallery's first experience in showing an artist from Africa. Fagbemi assures that "I have seen what they (Splendens) do, and the gallery immediately loved Duke's paintings. So we decieded to collaborate."
  A growing interest in African art or art from africa also brings an opportunity for expansion. And with barriers of communication being dismantled across cultures, the Paris exhibition seems to have come at the right time for Asidere. "In a fast changing world, where information hits you with the speed of light, we are compelled to stretch our power of imagination," his artist stament says.
Extracts from his bio: Asidere is one of Nigerias most celebrated contemporary artists with a keen following internationally and in his native Nigeria. He was born in 1961 and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree with first class honours in Fine Arts (painting) from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1988 and a Masters of Fine Arts in painting in 1996 from the same university. He taught painting, drawing and art history at the Federal Auchi Polytechnic for five years before starting full time studio work Lagos.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Art Dubai Announces New Director

Art Dubai has announced new Fair Director, Myrna Ayad, replacing current director of the yearly global event, Antonia Carver.

New Fair Director at Art Dubai, Myrna Ayad

Born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1977, Myrna Ayad is an independent arts writer, editor and consultant who has been based in the UAE for over thirty years. She has written prolifically for publications including The New York TimesThe Art Newspaper, Artsy, Art Forum, Artnet and The National among others, and published books on major collections and art movements in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Previously Editor of Canvas, a leading magazine for art and culture from the Middle East and Arab world where she worked for eight years (2007-2015), Ayad is recognised as one of the Middle East’s leading voices and cultural commentators. 

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Congolese music star, Papa Wemba dies

After collapsing on stage, influential Congolese music star Papa Wemba died today, April 24, 2016 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, says media reports.
Papa Wemba
 Born as
Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba, on June 14, 1949
Wemba was one of Africa's most popular musicians whose
Soukous kind of music, also known as rumba rock, became well known across Africa. 

With his bands Zaiko Langa Langa, Isifi and Viva La Musica, he racked up hit after hit including L'Esclave and Le Voyageur.

In addition to his prison time, Wemba spent in Europe, he was once jailed in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo), for allegedly having an affair with a general's daughter.
His conviction in France related to a racket whereby illegal immigrants were taken to Europe posing as members of his band.

Also known as The King of Rhumba Rock, Papa Wemba, was born in Kasai, Zaire. Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba first made his mark in 1970 in Kinshasa, where he was a singer, composer, and co-founder of the great youth group Zaiko Langa Langa. In 1974 he left to form his own band, Isife Lokole, and then in '76 began Viva La Musica. 

Hoping to reach a wider audience he ended up in Paris in the early '80s, bringing with him the entire line-up of Viva La Musica. Wemba's musical vision went beyond the capabilities of his seasoned Zairen rhumba rockers as he began to experiment with a wide range of eclectic sounds. 

Wemba's quite a stylish fellow, a sapeur, an aficionado of fashionable, well-designed clothing. His trendy suits with big jacket, and baggy, though tailored pants, are a strange mix of Africa, Paris, and the American zoot suit. A Soukous show is always a fashion event, and Wemba is a man of great style and taste.

Malick Sidibe... Fact, Distortion About 'Father Of African Photography'

By Tajudeen Sowole 
(First published in The Guardian Nigeria (
FOR inadequate documentation of African photography, the death of legendary Malian photographer Malick Sidibe, raises the challenge of who belongs where among the continent's departed and living professionals of the lens art.
Malick Sidibe, (1935 - April 4, 2016)

                                    Sidibe, b.1935 and died on April 4, 2016, has been regarded in some sections of foreign media, particularly in Europe as 'father of African photography.' The late photographer's work is widely revered as being among the leading art of the lens in Africa. However, the appropriateness of conferring a 'father of African photography' on Sidibe has opened up a new debate on the continent and its photo artists. And it got louder when France's Culture Minister, Audrey Azoulay, re-echoed same feeling after Sidibe's death, saying, "he was often called the father of African photography."

The label appears to be gaining wider acceptance by the day, particularly, since the death of the photographer. But how did the author(s) arrive at such an error of 'crowning'?

Two issues come into focus in questioning the fatherly crown: there were successful pioneer African photographers before Sidibe's generation emerged. And his work is not the only internationally known among his generation of photographers, which also included, J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere (1930-2014) and Peter Obe (1932-2013), among others. The Malian legend enjoyed a wider visibility far above the Nigerians. No doubts, because he was like a phenomenon and lone ranger within the Malian space. It was natural that his work got so much attention outside his locality, particularly in France.

Perhaps, his well-celebrated status above his contemporaries swayed the 'father' accolade to his side. Even at death, it was reported that Mali took him as 'national treasure.' Few days after his death, a report had it that 'hundreds of Malians gathered at a football pitch in Daoudabougou, near Bamako for his burial.' 

 In 2007, he was honoured at Venice Biennale with Lifetime Achievement award. He was also honoured with a Hasselblad Award, a lifetime achievement award from the International Centre of Photography and a World Press Photo Prize.

 However, there are facts to disprove Sidibe’s toga of 'father of African photography'. In 2012, a visiting American art historian, Lisa Aronson, who was at the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), Lagos, revealed how history blurred a 19th century photographer, Jonathan Adagogo Green (1873 – 1905), who is of Ijaw origin. From the presentation of Aronson, which exposed the quality of Adagogo’s work, certain facts explained that the photographer’s career was cruelly blurred from art history.

Aronson, an Associate Prof of Art History at Skidmore College, US, teaches and writes mainly about African art and visual culture.

  If historians argued that J.A. Green practised at a time when photography was not exactly recognised as an art the way it turned out to be a century later, history cannot place the works of another Nigerian, Chief Solomon Osagie Alonge (1911-1994) in the same fog.  As a prominent photographer of his time, Chief Alonge focused on the Benin Royal family among other subjects.

Apart from Alonge, there seemed to have existed other successful African photographers in the generations past. For example, when The Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C showed the works of Alonge two years ago during Nigeria's centenary, the museum noted that photography did not take much long to arrive in Africa shortly after its invention in 1839.

In its accounts of the lens profession, Smithsonian added: "In the late 19th to early 20th century, many West Africans took up the profession of photography." In fact, the records showed that "some were highly successful and profited from this new venture." Listed among such very successful African photographers of that era was Alonge.

Apart from the tragedy of inadequate documentation, which perhaps, blurred achievements of early African photographers before Sidibe, the period of the Malian's practice is clearly an advantage in visibility. But the number and texture of laurels Sidibe has won — above others who practised before him and during his contemporaries — should not be the reason to crown him as 'father of African photography.' If such criteria should be considered in other professions, for example, Lionel Messi should have been labeled as the 'Best' or 'Father' of Football. But the Brazilian legend, Pele still remains the Best Footballer of All Time, despite not collecting half of Messi's medals.

 If there was, or is, any African photographer whose work - style or technique - has brought more visible innovations to the lens art of Africa, Ojeikere fits such identity. The sculptural hairstyle of women captured by Ojeikere, over several decades remain great reference point in photography. Being one of the most exhibited African photographers, Ojeikere has been documented in J. D. Okhai Ojeikere: Photographs, a book on African hairstyles and culture authored by a French curator, Andre Magrin.

With the rich background of photography as an art in Africa, further research by scholars would most likely put records in proper perspective.

Artists From Ghana, Togo Converge For Lagos Art Auction

By Tajudeen Sowole
WITH the 2016 edition of Terra Kulture Mydrim Gallery (TKMG), otherwise known as Lagos Art Auction, will be asserting its status of a regional art hub as works of artists from other West African countries are featuring among the lots.
A Painting Market Queens by Ablade Glover

 In its fifth edition, the TKMG auction will also use the event to showcase quite a number of never-seen-in-public pieces of masters as well as works of young artists, some of who are making the auction for the first time.

  Opening with preview and cocktail today at the Terra Kulture Art Gallery and the auction sale Friday, April 29, at Inter Continental Hotel, the 2016 edition, according to curator, Ronke Akinyele, "is a sophisticated platform that celebrates Nigeria and Africa’s cultural heritage through creative artistry and a reference platform for pricing African Artworks."  

Apart from Ghanaian master, Ablade Glover, whose work has been a regular signature on the secondary art market in Nigeria, others featuring in the 2016 edition are Togolese, Samuel Tete Katchan; Ghanaian, Wiz Kudowor; and Beninese sculptor, Zimkpe Dominique.

 With the 2016 edition, TKMG is set to reassure observers of the secondary art market that indeed, its rebranding with focus on middle generation of masters is yielding result.  Recall that With 51 lots sold from a total of 90 at TKMG's Lagos Art Auction in 2015, there was indication that the new focus of the auction house on middle generation and young artists showed a prospect.
Last year TKMG disclosed that from the May of that year onwards, the lots will be dominated by works of the non-old masters and young artists with the hope of building a vibrant future for Nigerian art market.

 "Over the years, TKMG has sold works from artists like, Ben Enwonwu, El Anatsui, Ben Osawe, Erhabor Emokpae, Lamidi Fakeye to mention a few," Akinyele told a select preview guests few days ago, the auction house recalled. "This year, the auction will feature 104 artworks cutting across various media and artists from Nigeria and across West Africa (Ghana, Togo and Republic of Benin.)”
Works expected to be on display include that of masters like Bruce Onobrakpeya, Kolade Oshinowo, Ablade Glover, Dele Jegede and emerging artists like Ndidi Emefiele, Dipo Doherty and Makata Obinna. 

 And as the auction returns to the 2014 venue at Inter Continental Hotel, where Dance in the Bush by Onobrakpeya sold for N3, 650, 000, the 2016 edition could record another set of impressive sales. In 2014, works such as Untitled by El Anatsui sold for 3,050,000; and Oshinowo's At The Party for N2,200,000 as top of the sales.
TKMG is also taking a bold step by displaying as many as 104 lots, even in an economic slowdown environment as Nigeria's. Isn't that too large of a number for the lots?  "The number of lots is large, but they are affordable," Mrs Sinmidele Adesanya argued. "We want to get as many young and new collectors as possible to start collecting and appreciating art." 

 Still on the state of the economy as it affects the art market, Akinyele supported the argument that slowdown of economy hardly affects sales of art. "The slowdown in economy has nothing to do with the passion for art collecting, so researches have shown so far," she insisted.

 Yinka Akinkugbe, the auctioneer of TKMG 2016 sale, said this year would feature "a special section for some members of Guild of Professional Fine Artists of Nigeria (GFA)."