Sunday, 31 August 2014

For Interventions, 12 artists race for national art competition glory

By Tajudeen Sowole
Seven years, still counting, Nigerian Breweries (NB Plc) and African Artists’ Foundation (AAF) keep strengthening the base of contemporary art practice of Nigeria with a yearly national art competition.

The 2014 edition, which is currently in progress with just-held three days retreat challenges the 12 finalists under the theme Interventions, to conceptualise individual work that defends the role of contemporary art in the social, cultural and political environment of the country.  

Caption: Brand Director, African Artists’ Foundation, Wunika Mukan; Director,  Azu Nwagbogu; Corporate Social Responsibility/Sustainability Manager, Nigerian Breweries, Emete Tonukari and Former Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Ondo State, Tola Wewe at the press briefing to unveil the finalist of seventh edition of the National Arts competition held in Lagos…recently

Ada Umeofia, Emmanuel Dudu, Ike Francis, Paul Mbah, Nkechi Ebubedike, Erasmus Onyishi, Pwavidon Mathias, Tyna Adebowale, Modupeola Fadugba, Okafor Amarachi, Priscilla Nwanah and Jacqueline Suowari are the 12 finalists selected from what the organisers described as “unprecedented” numerical entries from across the country. “Over a hundred proposals were received from all geopolitical zones in Nigeria. After the deliberation of the artists selection committee, led by Professor El Anatsui, 12 finalists have been chosen to take part in this year’s edition of the National Art Competition,“ the organisers stated at a joint briefing in Lagos.
  Basically, the competition is designed to promote the development of contemporary African art as well as use art to create awareness on issues affecting the people.
  A day after the Retreat, the organisers said the theme examines how contemporary art serves as a catalyst for positive social change, and allow artists to meditate on their relationship with the social, political, and cultural framework of the society.  While arguing that contemporary art is an avenue for audiences to analyse and begin a dialogue about issues relevant to their present day, they asked artists “to create work that will spark public discourse and make a difference in their local communities.”
 Whatever the finalists come up with will be on display at the Grand Finale and Judging Ceremony holding on November 22, 2014 at the Civic Center, Victoria Island, Lagos. Contemporary master, Prof El Anatsui of University of Nigeria, Nsukka has been announced as chair “of distinguished arts professionals,” for the grand finale.
  The prizes include First Place, 2million Naira, a solo art exhibition at AAF, a Roundtrip and 3-Night Stay at Hilton Hotel Dubai, UAE; Winner of Outstanding Concept 1million Naira; and winner: Outstanding Production 1million Naira.
  Corporate Social Responsibility/Sustainability Manager, Nigerian Breweries, Emete Tonukari noted that the competition, beyond prizes given to winners, “showcases emerging talent in such diverse mediums as painting, sculpture, photography, mixed media, installation and video art.” She argued that the competition has proven to be a leading platform for the development of the next generation of contemporary artists in Nigeria.
  As a corporate group, the NB, according to Tonukari has been sponsoring the event as “part of a broad spectrum of initiatives geared towards our company’s ambition of Winning with Nigeria which can be observed through our support for health, talent development, youth empowerment, water and education across Nigeria.”
 The 12 finalists have been on a retreat that included workshops facilitated by leading artists and art promoters such as Oliver Enwonwu, Medina Dugger, Tola Wewe, Osai Ojigbo, Segun Adefila, Chike Nwagbogu, Sandra Obiago & Roger Woodbridge.
  NB P;c noted that the it has been partnering with AAF on the competition for six consecutive years. “This is part of an effort to encourage and promote the development of creativity, arts and artists in Nigeria. Nigerian Breweries recognises that arts play an important role in strengthening cultural values in any society. This sponsorship remains only part of a broad initiative to support arts development in Nigeria, as well as the development of talents in various Ã…fields of endeavour.” 
  For AAF, it’s about aiming to encourage the highest standard of art in Africa. “We erve a significant role in art and academic communities through organizing art exhibitions, festivals, competitions, residences, and workshops with the aims of unearthing and developing talent, creating societal awareness, and providing a platform to express creativity. By providing assistance to professional and emerging artists in Africa and support to international exhibitions and community outreach programs, African Artists; Foundation views the contribution to a strong cultural landscape in Africa as a transformative element in driving social change.”

Saturday, 30 August 2014

In streetscape master Okujeni’s fresh canvas, contemporaneity meets pointillism

By Tajudeen Sowole
About three decades of full-time studio practice comes with a vast experience to treasure, so suggests the fresh texture of painter, Toni Okujeni's canvas.

Toni Okujeni working on his new style and technique
History has been on the favoured-side of Okujeni's career. From being one of the pioneer artists at the rested Lagos-based African Guardian magazine in the mid 1980s, to joining the few courageous full-time studio artists later in the same decade, Okujeni had shown traces of an artist whose calling was clearly about leaving a strong imprint on the Nigerian art landscape.

This afternoon, the cloudy sky over Ojodu, Lagos-Ogun suburban conceals the sun from beaming onto Okujeni's studio, thus denying the canvases natural daylight required to enhance the market scene activities and streetscapes themes. However, the works, which exude the typical modernist trend in Lagos art scene, confirm the artist's experience, which condenses into mastery of the palette. But Okujeni has something fresh, more contemporary and "conceptual," in his palette knife. 

To appreciate Okujeni's fresh canvas of contemporary form, one needs to have a brief on his sojourn in art. In the past one and half decade, and until recently, he has been on the quiet side of the Lagos art scene. But it took a research into how the professional art scene in Nigeria of the past three decades evolved to fish out the Auchi Polytechnic, Edo State-trained Okujeni.

Having read much about the nineteenth century Dutch legend, Vincent van Gosh, Nigerian great artist Erhabor Emokpae and master printmaker, Dr Bruce Onobrakpeya, Okujeni recalls how he was inspired to study art. Setting out at dawn, he had no doubt the path of "art was the right way to take." Architecture was also on his mind, he discloses to his guest. "I also liked architecture, but the passion for art," won his choice of my career." After his four years training at Auchi ended in 1983 - and the National Youth Corps Service followed - it took a while for him to get a steady job. And when it came, from 1986-89, Okujeni was employed as art illustrator and cartoonist at African Guardian magazine under the then Art Editor, Femi Jolaoso.

Pre-computerised newsroom and production sections of newspaper were not exactly a long time ago as technology makes it appear like it’s a kind of Dinosaurs period away. It's interesting to know that art, from Okujeni's perspective, was more practical then in pre-press context. In fact, what is now known as Graphics section, he recalls, "was Art Department," then. And whoever heads it was actually "the Art Editor," not to be confused with the current sectionalisation of most editorial units that have Arts Editor - the head of arts and culture reportorial/review pages.

After Okujeni left the African Guardian magazine job in. 1989, he stepped into self-employment and full-time studio practice circle. Why not another employment job, in a newspaper company or advertising agency? The evolving new face of art in Nigeria of the 1980s, he says, inspired him to attempt full-time studio. Prior to the emergence of a new generation of Nigerians such as Olu Ajayi, Sam Ovraiti, Bunmi Babatunde, Abiodun Olaku and Felix Osiemi who pioneered self-employment studio practice, artists, mostly, found job security working as art teachers at secondary schools and higher institutions of learning as well as being designers or visualisers at advertising agencies and publishing companies. Apart from artists like Ajayi and Babatunde who, most likely, never took up any employment job, Ovraiti, Abiodun Olaku and few others reversed the usual order by leaving 30-days make a pay jobs for studio practice. More often, artists would start from full-time studio and end up as art teachers. But the new generation of Nigerian artists of the 1980s through early 1990s brought a change.

One of Toni Okijeni's crowded streetscape paintings 

"I thought that if the likes of Ajayi, Olaku, Ovraiti and Osiemi were paying their bills as full-time artists, I could do it too." It was not exactly a strange experience for him. He had, while working as illustrator at African Guardian magazine "exhibited with Ajayi, Olaku and others at a salon. The show titled Treasure House Salon, he says, was organised by Olasehinde Odimayo.

Art appreciation, he recalls, was not exactly as it is today, but relatively "encouraging enough for us artists then." It was the passion, and not the money, he notes, that kept the artists going. The late 1980s through early 1990s, Okujeni confirms, would remain one of the most important periods of Nigerian art in the area of art appreciation. "It was the period that the corporate groups, particularly the finance houses and regular banks started buying a lot of art." The monetary value was not exactly as it is today, but the period apparently inspired quite a number of individual collectors.

However, the political instability that followed the crisis of the annulled June 12 1993 presidential election brought a hostile economic environment that also affected artists. Quite a number of artists left Nigeria for the U.S and Europe. For Okujeini, it was not exactly a retreat; he attempted exploring few countries of the west coast and North Africa. Dakar, in Senegal was an attraction for him towards the end of the 1990s. "I went to Morocco and Dakar, but stayed behind for one year after the end of Dak'art of 1990," he explained a situation that led him to work "briefly" in Senegal.   

Between the period of his return to Nigeria and lately, Okujeni has been on the quiet side of art. And the fact that he was, few months ago, among the new inductees of Guild of Professional Fine Artists of Nigeria (GFA) stresses the period of disconnect from his contemporaries who founded the professional body over a decade ago. However, Okujeini has not been static on the canvas. His trajectory is no doubt of modernism, specifically with passion for streetscape, market and other crowded themes.

But this Wednesday afternoon, inside his moderate studio, something more conceptual is creeping in, so suggests a new set of works waiting for finishing. Pointillism? "Something like that," he responds as he brings out the works from his inner studio room and mounts them among the higher number of traditional/ modern paintings. Not exactly the traditional painting as it include, largely the pasting of clothing buttons to render pointillism or what looks like spots painting.

Interestingly, the themes of the works tap from the streetscape, market and crowd scenes identity of Okujeni, but rendered in fresh medium and technique. Okujeni’s fresh canvas appears like the beginning of his using pointillism to render contemporary concept. For an artist who claims that “I was painting streetscapes before other artists picked the trend in the 1980s,” the identity would not be left out of the new contemporary look of his canvas.

He discloses how a recent visit to Dak'art has changed his art. "Sometimes it could be challenging showing paintings where other artists are presenting new concepts. I had always wanted to do something different from just painting, but my last visit to Dak'art fast tracked it." 

His bio reads in parts: " Okujeni was born on January 24, 1962. He had his early inspiration from the work of Vincent Van Gogh and his works are among those with the richest palette from the school.
 "His favorite subject are crowded market scenes and roof tops with lots of movement done in heavy impastos of the palette knife as a technique and style of painting which has made his works acceptanble to wide range of audience.
 "He has participated in several group shows, some of includes Accenture Nigeria, Asilah forum foundation Morocco and gallery yacine-Dakar. His works are in many private and public collections."

Toni Okujeni
His past exhibitions included Nigerian contemporary cartoons United State Information Center, Lagos 1986; Treasure House Salon-  1989; Treasure house exhibition- 1989; Exhibition of art, Shell Club Warri-  1991; two-men show Leventis Foundation Centre- 1992;  Colour masters, Didi museum, Lagos- 1993; The way we are- NiconNoga Abuja-  1994;  Impastoes something special gallery Lagos -  1995; Valley of decision- National Museum-  1996; Ecole de Dakar exhibition-  GalerieYassine 1998; One man show-  GalerieYassine 199;  Assilah Forum Exhibition- Morocco- 1998; Exhibition of painting- Polo Club Lagos 1999; and Three man show National Musuem, Onikan, Lagos 2012.

Adeodunfa's art appreciation continues in Faces and Phases collection

 By Tajudeen Sowole
When Adeodunfa shows his collection in the first of what is projected as art exhibition series, he would again be sharing the joy of being an artist who is also a collector of other artists' works.

Odunfa who has put into his career nearly 15 years of studio practice had, three years ago, shown works of close to 20 artists in the exhibition titled Over A Decade Collection of Paintings and Sculptures.

Beautiful by Odunfa
He continues the passion of sharing his collection as another exhibition Faces and Phases will be on display from September 6-12, 2014 at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos.

"I have 400 art pieces of other artists in my collection.," Adeodunfa declared during the preview of the exhibition few days ago. For Faces and Phases, the number of artists are just five - four painters and one sculptor - including the collector/artist.

The choice of the theme, he disclosed, was based on the planned-seriealising of the exhibition.  For every group of artists shown at a particular time, the focus,  he explained "will be on the common stages that the artists have gone through."

For Faces and Phases, the artists are painters Akintoye Segun Shiigo, Olumide Onadipe, Adeodunfa, Uzoma Stephen Chinedu and and sculptor Donald Ekpo.

Adedunfa started collecting works of other artists, including that of his teachers,  as a student studying art. As an artist, his kind of art, perhaps, sometimes also influence his choice of collection. "My art depicts my true inner feelings; no matter the theme I work on." He explained how such personalising of art has become eclectic in his art over the years  "That’s why I’ve always had different styles over different periods in my life and different pallet to adorn my different surfaces. These are the element that gives breath to my art life." 

Samuel Ajobiewe,  Ehiforia Henry, Morakinyo Seye,  Akanbi Yusuf, Ogunnusi Dolapo, Bimpe Adebambo, Biodun Badmos, Bunmi Ayaoge, Idorenyin Ogaga Toudinye, Olumide Onadipe, Kehinde Oso, Umeh Bede, Segun Philips, Soji Yoloye, Tayo Olayode, Emeka Ajuwah, Osagie Aimufia, Femi Oyewole, Abdurazaq Muhammad and Donald Ekpo were the artists ehibited at Adeodunfa's show Over A Decade Collection of Paintings and Sculptures three years ago.

Full name, Adekusibe Odunfa, was born in Lagos on May 19, 1973. He graduated with a degree in Fine Art with a specialization in painting at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria in 1998.
 His bio says: Adeodunfa is an accomplished   painter known for his durbar themes; He is proficient in a variety of medim including oils, acrylics, watercolour, pastels and photography. He loves experimenting pigment on surfaces, plays with charcoal on canvass, oil on lace and oil on wood. His brilliantly executed canvasses depict the female form, portraits, durbars and recently stylized forms. 

From 1998 till date, he has participated in several exhibitions, which include three solos and over 22 group shows in Nigeria and abroad. Adeodunfa's works include installation of carnival floats and effigies for the Lagos State Carnival Floats 2010 – till date, The Calabar Carnival (Seagull band Float) 2012, The Eyo Festival Effigies 2010 - 2011 and The National Sports Festival Opening Ceremony held in Lagos State, 2012.

The Imala, Ogun State, southwest Nigeria indigene artist  has won numerous awards including: Mydrim Pastel Exhibition (2007), Guinness Art Award (2004), Xerox National Art Competition (2000) and Best Final Year Painting Student (1998).

Some of his art exhibitions include a 2007-Miniature Show,Terra Kulture VI,Lagos;
2008- Instinct,National Museum,Lagos; 2009- Art of Friendship,Abuja; 2010- Colours & Carnival 1,Calabar: 2010- Lagos Black Heritage;
2010- SICA,Cotonou ; 2011- Colours & Carnival II,Calabar; 2012- Colours & carnival III,Calabar; 2012- Firebrand,Nimbus Art Center, Lagos;
2014- The defining Moment,Transcorp Hilton,Abuja.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Jobuurg Art Fair 2014... Omenka is the face of Nigerian art

By Tajudeen Sowole
Gerry Nnubia, Kelani Abass, and Jefferson Jonahan join the list of artists on the international representation of Omenka Gallery as the Joburg Art Fair, in South Africa holds from September 7-9, 2014.

They swell the numberof Nigerian artists, in recent times, that are partnering with local and international galleries to tap from the sudden rise of African art at the global market.

A periodic collage concept on Oba (King) Adetokunbo Ademola, by Kelani Abbas
In the last one year, Omenka has taken Nigerian artists to major international art fairs around the world, including Art Dubai, (UAE), the Joburg Art Fair, Cape Town, (South Africa) Loop, Barcelona (Spain), Cologne Paper Art (Germany), Art14, and 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, both in London (U.K.).

At the Sandton Convention Centre, next month,  Omenka joins other galleries for the 5th yearly event. The participating galleries include  PGalerie Baudoin Lebon, Ed Cross Fine Art, Jack Bell, ARTCO Gallery, Kijk Galerie, Bailey Seippel Gallery, Erdman Contemporary, David Krut Projects, Museum of Modern Art Equatorial Guinea, Everard Read Gallery, Fred Gallery, Brundyn+Gonsalves, Gallery Art on Paper, Gallery MOMO, Goodman Gallery, Rooke Gallery, Barnard Gallery, SMAC Art Gallery, Stevenson Gallery, Galerie Galea, Artspace and Whatiftheworld Gallery.

Few months ago, Omenka took the woorks of J.D Okhai Ojeikere and a South Africa-based American painter, Gary Stephens to Art 14 Fair in London, UK,. Then, it was like an extension of  Networks and Voids: Modern Interpretations of Nigerian Hairstyles and Headdresses', a two-artists exhibition at Omenka Gallery, Ikoyi, Laggos last year.

The organisers of Joburg Art Fair,  in a sttatement noted that the fair has survived beyond the 2-year expected life span of large scale art events in the harsh climate of the South African cultural landscape. The Joburg Art Fair has a clear focus to building a sustainable art-buying market by expanding beyond established art-buyers and bringing the international and local crowd together.
On  the works the artists being taken to Joburg Art Fair, Omenka writes:  "Nnubia’s technique involves the skillful manipulation of his medium to a liquid, viscous flow, often assimilating accidental occurrences and temperature adjustments, depending on the effect sought. Here the artist offers critical possibilities for painting, and explores the tensions between form and formlessness vital to the tenets of modernism.

 " Kelani’s work increasingly probes the difficult relations of belonging and identity and in particular, the shared history of man and machines through a wide range of different media including sound. In addition to acrylics, oils, pastels and charcoal, he employs modeling paste, disused printing machine parts, and collages of magazine cut-outs and newsprint in his work.

 " Jonahan draws on historical and mythological references in most of his work. He employs a limited palette and restricts many of his compositions to a single human figure or face, his sensitivity to light and shadow, and the fundamental characteristics of the medium assuming the focus.
 The fair aims to create a platform to provoke discourse on the development of modern and contemporary African art.

From recess, Artzero artists go drawing with Thought in Lines

 By Tajudeen Sowole
Despite the rising application of contemporary process of art making, which most times deemphasises drawing skills, a Lagos-based group of artists, Artzero, insists that mastery of art still resides in the "basic" and traditional method.

Known for promoting art appreciation at the grassroots, with focus on the mainland axis of Lagos, Artzero, in its ongoing art exhibition titled Thoughts in Lines, showing till August 23 at Alliance Francaise, Yaba, Lagos continues a ten-year-old mission of art for all. The theme and focus of the exhibition is the second outing of Artzero in promoting drawing skills; the group had its debut on the 
subject in 2004.

Artists and guests during the opening of Thoughts in Line 

With 12 artists whose works are rendered in ink, pastel and pencils, Artzero retrieves art's sliding foundation-the good old drawing skills.  Exhibiting artists include Ato Arinze, Muraina Akeem, Mukaila Ayoade, Keke Chidih, Chinonye Ejimofor, Adebesin Adedamola, Busayo Lawal, Babatunde Osho, Celestine Pius, Ogunlade Babatunde, Ajayi Oluseyi and Ismaila Lawal.

Apart from Ismail's still life in pastel After Incubation, an apparent painting as well as that of two or three more artists, nearly every other work on display inside the modest space of Alliance Francaise strictly adhere to the drawing focus of the gathering.
Although painterly in shades and lights, some of the other works like Arinze’s Myth of Sisyphus, Muraina's. Kaaba and the Quraishi, Oluseyi's Networking, Chidih's Oja Tomati and Ogunlade's House For All 2 Vision 2020, still exude some characteristics of drawings. But in a two-figure stylised titled The Promise, rendered in ink/gouache on paper by Busayo,, the essence of drawing with lines and other characteristics boosts the theme of the gathering. With minimum or zero painterly hues compared to most works at the gathering, Busayo brings into the composite, some application of lines to effect toning, thus creating a non-flat images, yet without shading.

While the art academia and other interest sectors of visual arts are waiting to see how far the resilience of drawing can keep contemporary method of creating art with the rudiment s, it does appear that the environment, and perhaps perceptions is key. Coordinator, Programme of Artzero, Arinze agreed that 'to an extent" contemporaneity is pushing the basic behind. He however added that "it depends on the environment where an artist is practising."      

But if art indeed, has a global language in appreciation, peculiar environment may not matter. "Not really," Arinze explained. "Art is still not properly appreciated here compared to the west; art is still viewed as craft here."  

Akeem, coordinator of Artzero argued that irrespective of the kind of art an artist makes, "you cannot run away from drawing skill." He noted that drawing transcends art as a profession as "it has been the basics of life generally, from the stone age till date.." He stressed that all form of art takes off from the known before getting incubated into any form. "Any form of art starts from the known to the unknown. Be it installation, performance or sculpture."

Still on the relevance of emphasising drawing skill, an inclusion of more contemporary works in the medium of installation or performance art in Artzero's Thoughts in Lines, would have strengthened the argument for drawing skills. "Our area of coverage really cuts across," Arinze stated, and cited an example of a performance that was featured during one of the group's  past shows. "We have featured performance artist, Jelili Atiku in one of our previous shows.” Arinze said the group actually hoped to have another one in this exhibition, but for other reasons.”

Known for organising a yearly show, Art on the Mainland exhibition series and Lagos Artists Forum, it does appear that Thoughts in Line would add to the regular shows of Artzero. Akeem disclosed that, "we hope to make this a yearly event."
  He explained the group's three years absence on the Lagos art turf. "It was a passive recess."
 Artzero was established in 2002, but did not make a major public appearance until 2004. 

It has, over the years partnered with Alliance Francaise,  National Gallery of Art (NGA) Children Living with Cancer Foundation, Art Galleries Association of Nigeria (AGAN), Institute of Applied Spiritual Technology, Washington D.C. U.S. Communicating for change and Development Initiative Network (DIN).

Other projects of Artzero are: Ist Lagos Annual Art Bazaar, an all-sales miniature exhibition across Nigeria and Ghana; regular presentations at the yearly Art and Book Fair of Committee for Relevant Art (CORA).
  In the past, Arrtzero has exhibited masters such as Dr. Bruce Onabrakpeya and Prof. Abayomi Barber with young artists to give members, particularly the less exposed and new artists masterly inspirations. 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Masterly inspiration uncovers Olumide's relief sculpture of treasure

By Tajudeen Sowole
When a young artist replicates the signature of a master to the point of identical aesthetics, it may turn out a good gamble as Morenikeji Olumide attempts in a combined-sculpture and painting. 

The young, Lagos-based artist's relief of wood replicates master El Anatsui's panel rendition in sculpture. But Morenike's journey to a masterly future career via the shadow of Anatsui looks like a risk worth taking.

Morenikeji Olumide’s panel wood of relief sculpture and painting

Unlike Gerrard Chukwuma – another young artist who uses  the technique of Anatsui - Olumide was not a student of the Ghanaian-born Nigerian master. Though he studied painting at the same University of Nigeria (UNN) Usukka, Enugu State, but not under the tutelage of Anatsui. So, how and when did Olumide come across the passion for relief sculpture that is very much like the Nsukka master? "I wasn't doing this at UNN: I majored in painting, but started relief sculpture just two years ago," Olumide said during a chat in his promoter, Peter Imo's office in Lagos. "I hardly knew Anatsui's work at school because he was never my teacher."
 Coming from a painting discipline, his style of sculpture is heavily laced with the fluid medium. Olumide would not see his work as a change from the painting he has been for many years. "Not exactly a change. It is still painting, but on a relief surface."
Whatever Olumide picked from Nsukka, particularly in the area of native signs and symbols represented in uli motifs, he seemed to have brought into his Yoruba culture. Specifically, his style of motifs-populated relief sculpture is inspired by the works of adire artists in his hometown, Itoku, Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Over the ages, artists, would not stop situating art and deconstructing its essence. For Olumide, art of self- expression must come with some relevant contents. "I feel it is an expression of one’s experience in relation to issues, events, history, etc of the artist’s environment."

Based on his wide view of art, the choice of material and medium, he said, enhances better communication with his work and appropriation of the contents.  "My choice of media informs people about my statement of mind as instilled by my culture. In my art I usually try to create a mood or feeling, quite often it reflects human strength, beauty, joy, excitement or even vanity. My art is an effort at working through and communicating these feelings with my local dialects as a vehicle. I like it when my wood panels talk to the audience. As an artist there are several things I may not be able to communicate to people verbally hence my choice of Yoruba adages on my panels."

His bio reads: Olumide studied Fine and Applied Art at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 2005. His conceptual approach to art involves the use of diverse media to explore the rich ethical value of the relationship and life style of diverse Nigerian ethnic background, but recently his wood panels on the ‘Wisdom series’ have greatly focused on Yoruba adages and folk tales. He has taken part in different art projects, shows, exhibition and workshops both within and outside Nigeria.

The promoter, Imo is an art enthusiast who has been in the art business for over 15 years. A graduate of Government and Public Administration from the Abia State University, Uturu Okigwe, Imo went straight into art business after his graduation.

Imo disclosed that he was inspired to venture into art business "by the fact that I am a self-taught artist and actually took art classes, but never graduated as an artist." He said he has produced about 20 paintings which are in the hands of private collectors. His collectors, he recalled, inspired and encouraged him during his early years in the art business.

His bio says: Imo took part in the first Caterina de Medici International painting competition and award, in Florence, Italy 2002 where he obtained a certificate and  a bronze medal for his participation. Two Nigerian artists who accompanied him for the event won a silver medal and a cash prize for coming third and fourth place. 1n 2009 he enrolled another Nigerian artist Samuel Ebohon for the same event where the artist emerged with a gold medal and a cash prize of 10 thousand euro.

From Florida to Lagos, artists keep araism alive

Seven members of Araism Movement who, recently, had a group exhibition in Florida, U.S, are back in Lagos to continue promoting a style and form that bring them together.

Titled Araism Movement 13: Return From Florida, the Nigeria edition opens from Thursday, September 4, and ends Monday, September 8, 2014 at Red Door Art Gallery, Victoria Island, Lagos,

According to the group, the Florida event was "40-day exposé," which had the artists "stamped" the movement's "creative authority on the American soil with a glamorous opening ceremony." 

The founder of araism, Mufu Onifade stated that after making its first ever appearance in Florida, the artists hoped to make Nigerian wing of the show "a testimony" to the movement's  "proclamation as the country’s most consistent art group." The Lagos exhibition, which is coming many years after its last outing in the city, he assured "is also an opportunity to interact with the Nigerian art public."

A work from araism style of art titled Dolphin, by Oludotun Popoola

 Exhibiting artists include  Onifade, Abiola Mautin Akande, Oludotun Popoola, Oluwanbe Amodu, George Egunjobi, Jonathan Imafidor and Odumbo Adeniran.
 For the Lagos show, Onifade said each of the participating artists will contribute some of the works shown in Florida. He noted that the Florida outing reflected a mirror "on what is described by Robyn Vegas, the co-curator, as 'a snapshot of life in Africa where life began.'
 Expected to be on display at the Lagos event of Araism Movement 13 are Tibi Tire (Pain and Gain), Ibale (White Handkerchief), and Community Police by Onifade; Motherhood and Bini Chief from Imafidor; Dolphin, Awelewa (Symbol of Beauty) and Oba Eye (Peacock)  by Popoola. Others are Odumbo’s Living on Stilts, Sand Boats, King's Guard, and Lagos Yellow; Amodu’s Asale Ere (Night of performance), From Lagos to Yankee, and Ona Kan O Woja (Access Roads). Egunjobi will present Oracle’s Language, Spokesman and Moremi (Courageous Queen).  "All the 21 works, with the exception of Popoola’s Dolphin, address one social issue or the other that are of African authenticity."
   Onifade added that  Araism  Movement’s return to exhibition space in Nigeria "is a continuation of the imprints of its exhibition series. It is also the Movement’s sustenance of its tradition of consistency."  He argued that the group's  appearance in the US has stressed the "quality" of members' works..
 "We are delighted at the reception accorded us, and the fact that we are progressing with history,”  Popoola, secretary of Araism Movement who led other members back to Nigeria, could not hide his excitement about the Florida show. “Apart from the founder, we were all first-time travelers. The show was an eye opener. And this has become one of Araism Movement’s invaluable advantages to our individual practice.”
 Bola Asiru of Red Door Gallery will curate Araism Movement 13: Return From Florida.  Since its opening last year, Red Door has maintained a high level of professionalism in its handling of art and art-related matters.
 On the hosting of Araism Movement for the first time in his gallery, Asiru disclosed that Red Door’s interest lies in the group’s consistency and sustainability of quality in its members’ creative output.” He argued that the group's consistency would appeal to any gallery." Asiru assured that at Red Door  “we will do our bit, and hope the Movement will continue to sustain the tradition for which it is widely known.”
 In a Gallery Statement for the show, Red Door stated: “We encourage everyone to treat this exhibition as a journey of immersion - first of all immerse yourself in the unique Araism technique and subsequently, immerse yourself into the unique message behind each work that has been selected for the show.”
 The gallery stressed: “This exhibition was envisioned as a celebration of a return from a long journey after exhibiting Araism in the United States; but indeed, it will begin a new journey for African art observers and Araism followers worldwide."