Sunday, 23 November 2014

At Lagos festival, visual, poetry in Merging Stories of identity

By Tajudeen Sowole
Either as a haunting or retrospection channel, memories have ways of shaping identity, so suggest the thematic contents of visual artists and a poet at the art exhibition section of the 2014 Lagos Art and Book Festival (LABAF).

Image from the video presentation of Jelili Atiku’s performance art.
Titled Merging Stories and curated by Nkechi Nwosu-Igbo, the gathering featured works of performance artist, Jelili Atiku, painter Odun Orimolade, photographers Numero Unoma and Aderemi Adegbite, the curator as well as poet, Jumoke Verissimo, Specifically, the exhibition focuses on Identity within the context of "lived and inherited history."
On the opening day of LABAF, the ebullience narrative of performance artist Atiku, which has been consistent on themes such as identity and imperialism welcomes visitors in a video format at the entrance of the exhibiting space of Freedom Park, Lagos Island.  This time, it's one of the artist's recent works presented at a festival in Richardplatz, Berlin, Germany. Titled Alaagba, it revisits the geographical cuttings, into pieces, of the continent of Africa at the Berlin Conference of 1884. Enacted in two characters performance by Atiku and a French artist, Anne Letailleur before a crowd of audience, the blackening and costuming of the features questions identity in post-colonial era.

The performance, which Atiku describes as "the egungun (masquerade) method" was originally conceived and presented "to deconstruct stigma." And as the content fits into the Merging Stories exhibition at LABAF 2014, it also raises a question: is there really any identity issue for the white character in the performance to deconstruct? That is not a burden for Africa, the artist says. Europe and other agents of imperialists, Atiku explains, have the challenge "to decide if there is anything they want to deconstruct."

On the left side of the exhibiting space comes a scary figure, familiar though. It's a full size sculptural figure of a man in the notorious yellow kits of health workers who battle the deadly Ebola virus. Titled Yesterday Is Still Here, it's one of the works by Nwosu-Igbo, warning people not to be complacent. As installation artist, the curator of the exhibition has a way of subtly sending a chill down the spine of viewers with her method of presentation. And on the identity issue, of which most nation states in Africa keep battling as the rubbles of colonialism, Nwosu-Igbo seems to excavate the real thoughts of quite a huge population of frustrated Nigerians in another installation. Titled I Have Loved Nigeria For Too Long, the spreads of figures and other components in the challenge of nationhood, perhaps, also offer a deep self-probe on the sincerity of the much proclaim "love" for Nigeria by her nationals. 

In No Need to Bleed, a conceptual composite about woman, photographer, Unoma exudes creative image in a semi-silhouette that stresses fragility of the softer gender. Also, a torso exposure of a lady under captivity titled Always Stumm explains the photo artist's thought on identity.

Orimolade continues her monochromatic painting that focuses on psychoanalysis themes. For the gathering, two works of hers, perhaps among the pieces she showed at Art Twenty One lately, on display include Emanating and Offo Latinu.

What has a molue, commercial passenger bus, doing in the art space of LABAF?  The inscription on the yellow bus 'Molue Mobile Museum of Contemporary Art (MMMoCA) offers an answer. It's actually an installation by photographer Adegbite. Inside the bus, the artist engages school children on the strength of photography in communication.    

 The curator of Merging Stories, Nkechi Nwosu-Igbo
For Verissimo, one of her poems, The Sun That Goes Up contextualises identity thus: Know no grief. Look into the hours of Your arrival into the world Remember the last smile Of faces approving your arrival.'

From the curatorial note, Nwosu-Igbo states: "Identity in art is a worn-out but perennial argument that mankind must inevitably revisit. If nothing else, the fact that there is nothing new under the sun necessitates that every now and then, old arguments, theories and issues are revisited and debated all over again. But the issue of identity in particular is like that itch that never goes away no matter where you scratch or how often you scratch. Perhaps the reason it never goes away is because we have never really answered that question satisfactorily and the questions that result from this debate are almost infinite. To begin with, what is identity? Such a simple question with no unanimous answer, the reason for this being significance. What is more significant? Traditional ideas or modern ways? And even when we choose to embrace both as the sum total of who we are, the issue then becomes, which of these ideologies should dominate? In merging our past with our present, is there a formula for arriving at our most authentic self in creative expression? Should modern African art consist of forty percent tradition and sixty percent modern? Or do we split it down the middle? If yes, why? If no, why not?
And there are more unanswered questions. How relevant are cultural practices that today’s artists never even witnessed and yet are forced to lay claim to in their bid to be original? At what point does forcefully adopted identity become fraudulent? Do artists commit fraud when they choose what their culture or reality is? Should this issue of fraud be taken seriously? Who is a creative fraudster and what are the parameters for identifying such a person? Should we even care that in trying to be African, artists are forcefully adopting practices that are as alien to them as the idea of alien abduction in Africa?

"And it doesn’t still stop there. In trying to be African, we cannot neglect the overpowering influence of shared realities necessitated by globalization. So does shared experience discredit the very idea of cultural purity or at the very least, cultural identity? Why is it even that important that we be African in our work when we grew up watching mickey mouse and drinking coca cola like the average kid in New jersey or England? What should identity really be? What shouldn’t identity be?

"So you see, there are too many unanswered questions regarding identity and in our exhibition Merging Stories, we cannot promise to answer all these questions. But one thing is for certain. We are definitely not done with the issue of identity no matter how hard we try. So here is to trying. Seven art creators were‎ invited to channel their confident voices, tell dominant stories and spark discourses around their practices. The works span a range of media including installation, collage, video art, performance, drawing, spoken word, happening, photography and Film. The artists included are Odun Orimolade, Aderemi Adegbite, Efe Paul Azino, Femi Odugbemi, Jumoke Verissimo, Jelili Atiku, Numero Unoma and Nkechi Nwosu-Igbo."

Saturday, 22 November 2014

How auction records of Oshinowo, Babatunde expanded the masters’ club

By Tajudeen Sowole
With two Nigerian record sales, each for painter, Kolade Oshinowo and sculptor, Bunmi Babatunde at the November 2014 auction of Arthouse Contemporary, held at The Wheatbaker, Ikoyi, Lagos, the number of top selling masters in the secondary art market is now on the increase. Since art auctions became regular features in Nigerian art calendar, six years ago, artists whose works made the top of the five sales were always predictable.

A painting Stilt Dancers (oil on canvas, 160 x 90cm, 1981) by Kolade Oshinowo
Most often, the usual stars at auctions included Ben Enwonwu (1934-1996), El Anatsui b. 1944, Bruce Onobrakpeya b. 1932, Demas Nwoko b. 1934 and Yusuf Grillo b. 1934. Each of these masters has recorded several sales that range from over N9million naira to over N25 million naira per work. But Stilt Dancers (oil on canvas, 160 x 90cm, 1981) by Oshinowo b.1948 sold for N6m and a sculpture, Possibilities (Bronze, 157 X 176.5 cm, 2013) from Babatunde's gymnastic series sold for N3, 740, 000 million naira, brings two additional names to join the list of masters in the top sales, at least for now. Oshinowo and Babatunde's sales are the artists' auction records in Nigeria. For Babatunde, his world auction record remains Possibilities,  (ebony wood, 255 x 16.5 x 42cm, 2014) sold for (£31,250) at the last Bonhams Africa Now auction, London.  Until the Arthouse’s November 2014 auction, a painting titled Two Sisters by Oshinowo was sold for £43,000 at the 2013 Bonham's auction

However, the big masters continue to dominate, according to the results received from the auction house. El Anatsui recorded a N12, 540, 000 sale for his sculpture, Mask (manganese body and clay, 30.5 cm, 1978); Onobrakpeya's Totems of the Delta (copper foil rely on board, 156 x 201 cm, 2003), for N4, 6 20, 000); and Ablade Glover's Purple Townscape (oil on canvas, 122 x 122 cm, 2013) sold for N2, 640, 000.

 For ArtHouse and the community of art, results of the 13th edition suggest that the rise in market value of art in Nigeria has come to stay, and can only increase subsequently. From N112, 769,000 million of total sale recorded by the auction house in November last year’s sales to N86 million naira last May and at the November 2014 edition, N100, 957, 500, the Nigerian secondary art market keeps the ascendancy going.

In the Stilt Dancers, Oshinowo depicts the angere act of balancing, a form of entertainment and cultural events that used to be common on the streets of Lagos in the 1970s and 80s. Apart from the darkened figures in red toning, the work emits a monochromatic look, strengthening its rarity for an Oshinowo piece. It's quite a distance from the kind of figural work that the prolific painter is known for in the last one and half decade.
 Babatunde's increasing rating on the secondary art market appears like a good omen for other sculptors of contemporary periods who sticks to the traditional styles and forms. From exhibitions to art competitions and auctions, there has been a kind of apathy to traditional sculpture works lately.

Possibilities (Bronze, 157 X 176.5 cm, 2013) from Babatunde
At its thirteenth edition, the Arthouse auction stressed that it’s not an exclusive gathering for select few known names; the twice in a year sales at Arthouse always give opportunity for young artists and new entrants. The just held sales featured nine first timers, from Nigeria and few West Africa countries.

Continuing its commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility three charity lots were sold at a total of N1.4 million hammer prices.

Ahead of the auction, Mrs Kavita Chellaram, the CEO, announced the auction house's Arthouse Foundation. The foundation, she disclosed would function via a residency-based program that has been designed to provide a platform for artists to expand their practice and experiment with new art forms and ideas. The direction, she added, will be aided by establishing a network that supports cross-cultural exchange between Nigerian and international artists, which “embraces contemporary art as an educational model to engage communities, promote social dialogue, and advance the critical discourse of artistic practices.”

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Terra Kulture at 10th anniversary...success story of arts and culture facility

By Tajudeen Sowole
Rains of applause and great commendations from admirers who filled a Convention Centre hall at Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos during the 10 th anniversary of Terra Kulture, confirmed the organisation's success story.

More interesting, the Terra Kulture as a facility and centre for promotion of arts and culture almost lost its shine of the celebration to the flood of attention received by the founder, Mrs Bolanle Austen-Peters. One moment, it was all about the founder and Terra Kulture’s success story as a cultural facility as Femi Lijadu opened the event with his prepared speech, which was followed by a documentary. The next minutes, an Austen-Peters' image as an individual whose concept of Nigeria's leading cultural centre has blossomed beyond imagination took over the entire event. Clearly, the wavelength of the 10th anniversary of Terra Kulture indicated the iconic image, which Austen-Peters has made from being a great manager of an unusual business, at least in Nigerian context. Terra Kulture is a phenomenon in arts and culture facility management, so suggested the hall-filled of guests, which included dignitaries such as the Olusgun Aganga, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, art patron, Prince Yemisis Shyllon as well as activist, Oby Ezekwesili among others.
Bolanle Austen-Peters Founder Terra Kulture (right)  With Segun Aganga Minister Of Trade And Mutiu Sunmonu Managing Director Of Shell

Conceived in 2002 but formally opened for business in 2004, the Austen-Peters-led facility has grown to become one-stop arts and culture outlet in the heart of Nigeria's leading business district of Victoria Island. From art and craft gallery to indigenous foods, languages and performing Arts via drama and musical contents as well as general promotion of cultural values, Terra Kulture has blurred the line between the corporate world of business and selling culture.

Shortly after singer, Olumide Dada 's voice boomed over classical instrumentation version of Nigerian national anthem, Lijadu’s opening remark set the direction in which the event followed as he started by saying "we are here to celebrate the remarkable achievement of Bolanle." But as the event peaked, the extacy generated ended up celebrating both the facility and Bolanle. Lijadu noted that  "culture is the climate of our civilisation." The Terra Kulture model, he argued, has shown how to celebrate culture.

After Lijadu's intro and background into the making of the Terra Kulture phenomenon, another singers, Yinka Davies and Ranti gave a R&B interlude before the backdrop screen opened foe a documentary on Terra Kulture. The short documentary by Austen-Peters and Kunle Afolayan-led  Golden Effect, voiced over by Bimbo Manuel, features Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka; poet and former National Theatre boss, Ahmed Yerima; one time Chairman of Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA), Lagos State Chapter Olu Ajayi; art collector and founder of OYASAF, Prince Yemisi Shyllon; foremost fashion designer, Deola Sagoe, Nollywood star, Joke Silva; master printmaker, Dr Bruce Onobrakpeya; and metal artist, Fidelis Odogwu among others interviewed.
 Soyinka whose several celebrated drama works have been staged at the monthly Theatre at Terra productions noted that "Terra Kulture is a symbol of Nigeria's cultural evolution," in the post-independence era. For Silva, the credit for the revival of theatre going culture in Lagos goes to Terra Kulture with its support for artists, even "at token fees" for the space. Also interviewed in the documentary, Austen-Peters recalled how Theatre @ Terra started started six years ago with "just two directors, and now has 20 directors."
 Onobrakpeya, Shyllon and Ajayi, stressed the energy in art appreciation, which Terra Kulture art gallery space has broungt into the business of managing art.
 At 10, the Terra Kulture model was worth celebrating and emulating for the basic reason of stressing that culture is as good an enterprise as any other ventures, particularly in a country like Nigeria that is gradually heading towards budgetry crisis as a result of gross mismanagement of oil revenues by the Federal Government. Alternative sources of revenue through tourism contents such as arts and culture cannot be more appropriate at a time when Nigeria's largest importer of crude oil, the U.S has warned that "America will stop importing energy from any where in the world by 2025."
  Being a culture facility in the heart of Nigeria's business district, Victoria Island, Terra Kulture is, in the country's art, culture and tourism environment, a phenomenon.
With Terra Kulture art gallery, a new phase of art management and marketing surfaced on Nigeria’s creative landscape. Recall that Terra Kulture, in partnership with the then Tayo Aderinokun-led GTB, in 2007 created a forum known as Arts and Business Foundation (ABF).
 The council, an initiative, which had the support of Ford Foundation, according to the promoters, was to create ventilation for an increasingly populated house of Nigerian arts and culture. At the launch, Austen-Peters had noted that talents were abound in the country, but lack of enabling environment was a clog in the wheels of progress for the creative sector.

Mrs. Kavita Chellarams, Erelu Dosunmu, Mrs Bose Clark And Mrs Doyin Akinyanju
Seven years after the formation of ABF and over three years after her parther Aderinokun died, the spirit of pushing for the entreprenurship of arts and culture was echoed when she told the audience at Terra Kulture's 10th anniversary her brief story along the cultural path. Austen-Peters is a lawyer, and had her early career working at the United Nations. "My last posting was to Ethiopia," she said after a deafenibg applause that welcomed her onto the stage. "I saw the devastation of what uneployment can do to a people." When she quit the UN job, it was still disatisfaction all along taking up other jobs. "I kept changing jobs because I hated sitting behind the desks always." And having developed a passsion for history, arts and culture, she thought of "creating an institution around them." That was the starting point. She disclosed how a proposal "I wrote with the hekp of Deji Ali," set out the idea and search for supports.

Ten years after, Austen-Peters did a brief analysis and told the audience: "about 200 art exhibitions have been held at the gallery, we create 60 jobs on a monthly basis, and we don't have to boreow money to pay salaries." She reeled out her personal lessons gained from heading a centre of arts and culture faxility. "Terra Kulture taught me body politics and grew me as an individual, and that creative professionals are no less impotant than others in science or medicine." In fact, she argued that if a nation must move forward, the creative sector need to be properly funded. She stressed, for example that "for each production of Theatre at Terra, we create so many jobs." The celebrated work, Saro the Musical production, Austen+Peters stated was being used as an experiment to meet Broadway standard. The second edition of Saro the Musical is slated for next month at Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos.

As Access Bank, a partner in the 10th Anniversary celebration of Terra Kulture shared the glory and success of one decade in phenomenal promotion of the creativity sector, one individual in the banking sector, Aderinokun (1955-12011) was not forgotten by the celebrant. At the entrance of the hall, Aderinokun, the late Managing Director of GTBank, was honoured with a tribute in poetry lines inscribed onto the side of his photograph. The tribute says: Your life was a blessing, Your memory, a are loved beyond words and missed beyond measures...'

The honour did not stop there, Joseph Umolbom, Manager at Terra Kulture, on behalf of the cultural centre gave "Post-Humour Award to Aderinokun as a founding Chairman of Terra Kulture." The late banker’s widow, Mrs Aderinokun received the award.
 The event was also a moment of honour for select dedicated workers at Terra Kulture who got Long Service Awards:  Ibrahim Kuta, Hall Managers since 10 years;  Mohanmed Goni, security officer also in 10 years with Terra Kulture: and Rasheed Adelaye, Kitchen Manager. Also, Accountant at Terra Kulture, Mrs Temitope Sanya was given award "for keeping the books of the company." 

Ahead of the 10th year celebration, Austen-Peters has disclosed that Access Bank "is the new partner of Terra Kulture." For those who have been tracking the reationship between Terra Kulture and GTBank, in the past few months, the change of bank partner would not come as a surprise.
 In celebrating 10 years of innovation and value add, Access Bank, according to Terra Kulture "is in the partnership to promote its  programs through sponsorship of the anniversary celebrations. “This is consistent with  Access Bank’s commitment to the promotion of Arts and Culture and women-owned businesses,” the bank was quoted.

Few days after, at the 10th anniversary event, the Managing Director at Acces Bank, Mr Herbert Wigwe said "we knew her (Austen-Peters) before she started Terra Kulture." Wigwe described Austen-Peters as "modern day Amnbassador of Arts and Culture." The Access Bank boss argued that the contribution of arts and culture to Nigeria's GDP was not a fluke and assured that "we will continue to suppoert the creative sector." 

Bolanle Austen-Peters And Francois Sastourne The French Consul General
Indeed, advanced economies of the world have shown that every aspect of professions across the board contributes to the rise or fall of GDP. In fact, visual arts, for example has contributed to the sudden rise of Chinese economy.

Potentially, Nigerian visual art has the biggest prospects as vital contents in promoting tourism. But sadly, the Federal Government has contributed almost nothing in promoting art, and by extension, reducing the input of tourism value of Nigerian economy.
 Several years before the rebase of Nigeria’s GDP that eventually recognized arts and culture, Austen-Peters had challenged government on the importance of building the creative sector into the Nigerian economy.  Then, Government used to make a yearly claim about the country’s economy riseing by certain percentage, leaving the arts and culture, and by extension, the tourism industry appears left out of the so- called growth. Local and international observers have noted improvement in the economy, recording to a GDP growth of 8.7 percent in 2010. Although dropped to 6.9 in the previous year, the growth rate, according to economists, showed bigger prospects.  If there was anywhere to feel the pulse of the arts and culture sector within the context of a growing economy, Terra Kulture came in as the window.

Shortly after a gathering in Lagos, organised to appraise the arts and culture activities of Terra Kulture in the 2011 and prepare artists for the 2012 events, Mrs Bolanle Austen-Peters noted that culture and tourism were yet to be built into the Nigerian economy.
  Responding to a question on the impact of the country’s economic ‘growth’, on the arts/culture and tourism sector, she stated that “tourism is not something you stumble on. There must be concerted efforts from everybody; from government to the common people on the streets who may have contact with visitors.”
Mr And Mrs Tony Attah Md Snepco, Mr. Osagie Okunbor Shell Group Relations Adviser, Mr. Mutiu Sunmonu Md Shell

Government, she stressed, should allow art to grow by “creating more art venues and renovate the museums.”
  Although, she admitted that Terra Kulture enjoys patronage of domestic and foreign visitors, “but there should be more art and culture venues; we can’t do it alone.”
 Before the current merger of Terra Kulture-Mydrim into what is now known as TKMG auction house, a remarkable sale was recorded for one master, which would later resonate across subsequent results of auctions, generally in Lagos.
 It was at the second outing of Terra Kulture in partnership with Nimbus 2000 and tagged Golden Jubilee Art Auction 2010, which had the 'Nigerian master born in Ghana', El Anatsui's work sold for N4milliion naira. His wood panel, lot 72, Time Window (147 x 61 cm, 2006) sold at N3.8m while lot 61, from a series, 1004 Flat (40 x 40 cm) went for N3.6m.

Anatsui work sold for N4 million in 2010, shouldn't make any news, isn't it? Yes, but strangely, it did: prior to the sale of Time Window, all Anatsui's works sold at auctions in Lagos from April 2008 till then were, strangely, under valued. Reason: the emerging art collectors in Nigeria, exhumed by the secondary art market were unfamiliar with Anatsui's work. Ironically, Anatsui was already selling in several hundred of thousands in dollars overseas before the emergence of Nigerian secondary art market. It took the Terra Kulture auction that sold his Time Window for the subsequent sales of Anatsui's works at other auctions in Lagos to place the University of Nigeria, Nsukka art teacher where he truly belonged. In fact, Nigeria's premier auctioneer, Arthouse was the next beneficiary of the Terra Kulture revelation when a panel by the artist Mirror Image sold for N5.5 million nairaat a November 2010 auction.
1994 .  In 2008, Terra Kulture made its debut art auction in partnership with Nimbus. The auction had on sales some of the works that were used for the historic Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting (CHOGOM) held at Abuja in 2003.

But for Austen-Peters, art auction goes beyond the mega buck. She has repeatedly said the future of Nigerian art remains paramount. “Auction is not always about money, but exposing good works, particularly from the young artists.”
  And part of developing a strong art auction with local content, perhaps informed the choice of an anchor-person or auctioneer such as art patron, Prince Yemisi Shyllon. 
Still expanding the secondary art market, an attempt was made by the joint venture of Terra Kulture and Mydrim at Abuja in 2011.
   Between art auction and the primary market, the former appears to present a better challenge, isn't it? Neither auction nor exhibition can replace one another, Austen-Peters stressed. “Each complement the other,” she insisted while arguing that, “the easiest option is to do a few art exhibitions and two auctions in a year."

Saturday, 15 November 2014

In Fate, five artists set sight on mainstream art market

By Tajudeen Sowole
 As masterly signatures, by the tradition of visual arts, reign in perpetuity, leaving others to struggle for recognition, five up-and-coming artists are setting out under a common representation.

The artists’ common platform, surprisingly is a representation by one of the new art outlets, Alexis Galleries, Victoria Island, Lagos. The artists, Tyna Adebowale, Darlington Chukwumwzie, Henry Akhile, Raji Mohammed and Yemi Uthman are among a new generation of Nigerian artists who, recently, are being represented by Lagos-based art galleries. Recall that artists’ representation in the Nigerian art circle has been mystified as a complex terrain that galleries always avoid.

One of the works, Sisters, by Adeyemi Uthman, showing in Fate at Alexis Galleries
For Alexis and the five artists, a group art exhibition titled Fate, which opens tomorrow at the gallery, ending November 22, 2014 is a starting point. Artist and co-curator at Alexis Galleries, George Edozie disclosed that the artists are not just being represented in Nigeria, the target “is to also show them abroad.” Patti Chidiac, the curator explained the significance of the exhibition, stating, “Fate has brought the artists together in their search for success.”

Adebowale, whose technique looks like pointillism focuses on themes that are mainly gender based. In one of the works titled Ritual, the artist, makes a realism capture of a woman in makeover and dressing up exercise that say so much about her interest in the theme. For example, the highlighting the importance of the accessories such as necklace in a loud colour sharply contrasts the moonlighting blue tone of the body.

 “The female body is a major influence in my art, touching issues of identity, beauty, gender, sexuality,” stated Adebowle, a graduate of Painting, Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo State.

Chukwumwzie, a self-thought artist prided his skill in what he described as “a true heart for abstraction, impressionism, graffiti, installation, recycle art and cubism.” But for the Fate gathering, the artist’s works are paintings, some of which are rendered in resplendence of colour mixes. Such works include My Art My Tools, a depiction of studio tools and The other side of Midnight, a deadly night scene.

For Uthman who studied Fine and Applied Art at The Institute of Art and Design (ITTAD), Lagos and graduated in 1998, he has over one decade of experience to rely on. This much shows in his choice of theme, focusing the riverside habitation in Lagos.

The theme of the exhibition, he said, reminds him of the people who live at the bank of the rivers in Lagos. “The theme Fate applies to the subject of my works, which is about people living on water.” Uthman disclosed that he has been very close to some of the people who are “either friends or relations.” Some of his works such as Ebute, Leyin Ise Ojoo and Live and Bred on Water indeed expose an artist whose palette has matured and ready for the masterly journey.

With rendition in impressionism in works such as Pathway, Bus Stop Series and Fatima, among others, Akhile expresses his passion for what he described as “influenced by the ever changing landscape of the developing topography of my Nigerian urban/cultural environment and scene.” The artist who grew up in Auchi and got inspiration from the town’s sea of rustic rooftops explained how he was wowed when he came to Lagos. “I came to Lagos in 2007 and got more art inspiration from the old Oshodi scene of bus stops before Governor Fashola cleared the roads.”

And as contemporary art keeps changing the face of creating art, Akhile appears more consistent aligning with the nineteenth century art movement. “Evolving from the style and textures of the impressionists movement, I have been able to create and achieve my own trend and style of painting, using such medium as acrylic or oil paints on canvas.”

Mohammed is the only portrait artist in the Fate gathering as he renders portraitures, mostly of young adults and kids. Whoever is a fanof painter, Ebenezer of Akinola’s texture of the canvas may just like Mohammed’s style as well. However, Mohammed’s deeper application of the earth colours in The Young prince series and Sisters makes the difference.

Alexis Galleries, according to Chidiac was not unaware of the complex surface of representing artists in Nigeria. “Yes, we know the difficulty of representing artists. But we want to sanitise the art market by truly representing the artists and get the right value for their works.” She relied on the regular sponsors such as Leventis, Litho-Chrome, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Cool TV, Wazobia TV, Cool Fm, Nig Info Lagos, Wazobia Fm, Arra Wines, The Avenue Suites, Nova Internet Solutions, Chocolat Royal, The Homestores and Art CafĂ© to ensure that “young artists are truly represented without necessarily signing out their lives in a contract.”

The interest of the artists, Edozie assured, cannot be better protected having someone like him in the Alexis Galleries team, who himself an artist “that has gone through the difficult stages of being established.”

Intro... Idu’s palette changes medium

By Tajudeen Sowole
When an artist thickens the texture of his palette from a paint medium such as water colour to acrylic, it may appear common. But for Chika Idu there is so much to the transition. In fact, he had a solo art exhibition titled Intro, which opened at Quintessence Gallery, Lekki, Lagos, a few weeks ago, which was dedicated to the transition from his long romance with water colour to acrylic.

One of Chika Idu’s works in acrylic titled Faith
"I have been looking for a way to be more expressive, this exhibition affords me the opportunity," said the painter who is a member of Defatori Studio, one of the oldest group studios in Lagos. Acrylic, he clarified, "is not really new to me." Having been experimenting with it "for six years, his inability to share the works of the experimentation with the public, he explained, was based on "the need for perfection."

Out of the 20 works exhibited, the artist's past still hovered around as some pieces in water colours were not left out. He assured that despite changing the medium from water colour to acrylic, his identity in the context of rendition or form remains intact.  Also in the new face of Idu's art are the technique and aesthetics. For example, works such as Faith and Ijo Olomo, among others stress the artist’s new direction.

And now that he is no longer confined within a single medium, he has also expanded how his palette determines the tone of a theme. "A particular medium comes with the demand of the theme." On his choice of theme, he seemed to have dropped his focus on the society, noting that his works in the past were viewed from negative perspective. Patriotism, he said, sometimes has unpleasant prize with it. And having gone through that path, he declared that "I now paint without any message in mind," perhaps just focusing on aesthetics.

From Idu’s Artist Statement: “ I have been engaged in several experiments in search of avenues through which I can communicate without compromising my energy and message, I have been experimenting with acrylic medium for six years and this will be the first time i will be showing them in large quantity.
I see this technique and style diversity as an opportunity to express myself in any way i choose, for me its like having the command of several languages, there are some expressions with stronger and more direct meaning in some languages than others, this truth can be related to my ability to express myself in various styles.”

Idu has 22 years studio experience during when he studied painting in Auchi polytechnic in Edo state from 1993-1998.
His bio says he is a restless artist who has on many occasions conducted several experiments with various medium and always seeking for a new and original system of expression.

He has conducted and participated in several workshops as a youth counsellor, motivational speaker, art teacher/instructor and a poet.
He is a founding member of Defactori Studio and founder of Sable Water Club.