Thursday, 1 September 2011

Crosscurrents

Uche Edochie's work in Crosscurrents
 
Melting Nigeria, Italy in  Crosscurrents
 By Tajudeen Sowole 

Tuesday, 22 March 2011 00:00 
WHEN selected artists of the two countries converged on Lagos, the abstractive contents of Picasso of 1907 to 1909, which changed the face of modernism and linked African and European arts was though less visible, but a new cross culture age, attempting to re-energise that Afro-Euro links has beckoned
IN its title, Crosscurrents, a collaborative art exhibition, which featured Nigerian and Italian artists at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, from March 16 to 19, 2011, the message is clear. And interestingly, about 18 of these artists, are below the age of 50.
Mr Mofe Boyo of Oando, Mr Ciro Pagano of Naoc and Mrs Marinu Paduano one of the curators
From painting, mixed media to photography and digital imaging, the exhibited artists Kolade Oshinowo, Abiodun Olaku, Alex Nwokolo, Rom Isichei, Uche Edochie, Peju Alatise, Chidi Kwubiri Oliver Enwonwu, Uche James Iroha Mudi Yahaya (Nigerians) and Matteo Basile, Angelo Bellobono, Filippo Centenari, Francesco Cervelli, Alberto Di Fabio, Stefania Fabrizi, Omar Galliani, Jonathan Guitamacchi, Adriano Nardi, Davide Eron Salvadei (Italians), showed the dynamics of contemporary art in both countries.
Organiased by Temple Productions and Mcontemporary Art of Italy, the event, also demystified the widely held view that art was not attractive to corporate sectors. Three oil companies: Oando, AGIP and Global Energy Group (GEG) sponsored the exhibition.
While most of the Nigerian artists on the show used their recent familiar techniques and forms to stress the unfolding dynamics of the country’s art, few others used the gathering to blow a fresh breath of conceptual contents. One of such fresh moves came through the lens of photo artist, Mudi Yahaya, in two series of female nudity, which seemed to blur the line between exploiting female sexuality and art content. Yahaya, in an apparent attempt to defend the boldness of his lens, yet mindful of the sensibility of the African environment, agreed that at immediate encounter with the works, viewers relate with them in sexuality context. He however warned: “that’s not the message.”
Audience at the event
While Italian, Mardi, combined drawings and painting in Diana’s Mirror to explain the influence of pop culture on fashion, the digital art of photo artist, Centenari, roved between surreal and naturalism. This much, was seen in his digitised and conceptual works, which replicated cities such as Dubai, New York and Hong Kong.
With the mixed media titled Half of the Story and a series, Lest I Forget, Alatise, epitomized the young Nigerian artists who are doing new things. Quite a shift from her feminine figural paintings of high textured canvas, Alatise presented embossed images in mixed media. She challenged the media in Half of the Story, a limbs-chopped off body of a female in sculptural form and mounted against pieces of old newspaper cutouts. She argued that most times, “writers don’t say the whole of the story; the other half is tilted to favour the author.”
Aside the cultural exchange value of the event, a statement on how to present art was made: the curatorial content, enhanced by the ambience of the hall would be a subject of discussion among art promoters, artists and gallery owners, and perhaps enjoy a special place in the history of Nigerian contemporary art.
And when actress and the CEO of Temple Productions, Ego Boyo commended the sponsors “for throwing their weight behind this exhibition, signifying the beginning of future collaborations and development of arts between Nigerian and Italian artists,” she probably did not know that the impressive support from the three oil companies enjoyed by Crosscurrents, was unprecedented in the visual arts sub-section of the culture industry. Boyo seemed to have brought a touch of the moviedom glitz into art exhibition. “It’s not me; the curators, supports from the corporate people, made the show a success,” she argued.
As modest as Boyo’s response suggested, the classic presentation of Crosscurrents showed that stakeholders, particularly artists, appeared not to have been doing something right in the past as regards their relationship with the corporate sector: artists and art promoters complained, ceaselessly, about lack of corporate support for the art.
And for Oando, Agip and Global Energy Group (GEC), the supports were incomplete without the presence of a high-powered delegation to the preview: CEO, Marketing, Oando, Mr. Omamofe Boyo; Mr. Roberto Casula of Agip Oil Company; CEO, Global Energy Group (GEG), Joe Obiago, a notable art patron, were present to give the event the additional support.
For an exhibition of this magnitude, the criteria for selecting the exhibited Nigerian artists must have been challenging, given the richness of the country’s art landscape. Although the show was devoid of government input, the organizers, thoughtfully, was conscious of the ethnic spread of the country in selecting artists. Perhaps, a jury process would have been ideal. Not exactly, Boyo explained. “We have carefully selected artists of the finest extraction across the geo-political zones for adequate representation of the uniqueness and variety of our culture.”
Marinu Paduano, Director of Mcontemporary Art said “We are proud to be part of this collaboration in Nigeria, which will provide an opportunity to spotlight the rich collection of African and Italian art and allow us to celebrate our distinctiveness.”
The cultural exchange between the two countries, Boyo assured, would not stop with this show. “We hope to continue this exchange with another show in Italy.”

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