Friday, 2 September 2011

DUKE ASIDERE @ 50

How artists invaded Egbeda for street art

As Duke Asidere makes a Golden Jubilee in the next two months, his colleagues visited,  not only to expand the scope of their operation, but also connect art to grassroots, descending on Egbeda, a Lagos suburban of low-income earners and middle class.
 
LED by Asidere and tagged Orelope Global Group Workshop, it's the artist's parting gift to Orelope Street as he hoped to move out of the mainland next year. Involved over 15 artists, this gathering appeared to have flagged off what could be termed neighbourhood art as the group toured some parts of Lagos, where majority of the artists derived inspiration for their creative outputs.
Members of the group are Abiodun Olaku, Alex Nwokolo, Olu Ajayi, Ndidi Dike, George Edozie, Bimbo Adenugba, Muyiwa Owoeye Wise, Emenike Ogwo, Ibe Ananaba, Teewhy Iteehu, Uche Joel Chima, Uche James Iroha, Yomi Sokenu, Akhile Ehifuria, Babatunde Ogunlade, Sunday Akpedo, Titi Animasaun, Joshua Olusoji, Jude Anogwih, Seye Morakinyo, Joshua and Isreal Asidere.
In painting, sculpture and photography, these artists, for four days, added artistic flavour to Orelope Street and by extension engaged the community, the younger ones too, in the rudiment of art.
Duke Asidre and colleagues  PHOTO: by Uche James Iroha
Individually, most of the artists, had, in the past, contributed to the streetscape and landscape themes that have enriched contemporary Nigerian art scene. A visit to Orelope on the third day of the gathering, however, oozed a different kind of aura, both on the individual artist’s work as well as the communal feelings shared.
For example, impressionist, Ogwo’s aerial view, stretching into the horizon of the street eliminates whatever whimsical characteristic the artist went through coming all the way from Ajah to be part of this gathering. “For me, this is a clarion call, an artistic one,” he declared on the verandah of a storey building as he shifted his palette to a comfort position within the little space of the cubicle-like pedestal.
Duke Asidere (right)
Few hours later, as he mounted a canvas on the easel, Asidere, a resident of 16 years on Orelope, stated that the gathering “is for artists to come and work for satisfaction, right before the people of the community.” He noted that every artist owes its immediate environment a moment of sharing part of his or her profession.
Perhaps, it was also an opportunity for him to challenge some perceived “better artists” to a plein painting contest. He noted that “some of these artists that are highly rated in the Nigerian art market, can’t paint. This is an open air, tell them to come and show their skills.”
IN the past six years, two similar gatherings of artists had occurred in Lagos, each, primarily, aimed at taking art to the street.  First was Germany-based artist, Emeka Udemba’s Lagos Open, which included the art transformation of Goriola Street in Ajegunle in 2005. The same artist returned in 2008 with In God We Trust, a continuation of art in non-conventional space initiative, which had him led other artists to paint two churches, in Mushin, one of which was Glorious Assembly Church. Both projects were in collaboration with the Goethe Institut, Lagos.
Also, last year, a group of young artists, Art Clique, took to the streets, in what they described as efforts at sharpening the open air or plein air painting skill.
artists working on Orelope street

IT’s quite interesting that for each of these art on the street projects, the focus is the same, but format and approach differ. While Udemba used art as part of environmental transformation and Art Clique artists yearned for better skills, the Orelope Workshop, perhaps still an experiment, was a consciousness the convener, Asidere, aimed at a segment of the society shut out from the world of art. And that aim seemed to have worked out well in this maiden outing.
For example, Ajayi, who lives in Surulere, has his clients and patrons in Lagos/Victoria Islands and perhaps, hardly moves beyond Ikeja, described the Egbeda experience as “art street jam with spontaneity and boom with public attention.”
Ikoyi, Lagos Island-based Ndidi Dike noted that such communal efforts of artists, if done regularly, “is better for the rejuvenation of contemporary art in Nigeria.” Art, she argued, “should not be stagnant.”
Photographer, Iroha agreed, when he stated: “it’s a clear departure from the nucleated Lagos art scene, an attempt to decentralise the system, a far cry from the usual Ikoyi/Victoria Island clich√©.”
For George Edozie, it was nostalgic, having just moved from Egbeda to Gbagada Estate, a serene environment. “It’s like a homecoming for me. I lived here from 1999 to 2011 and had painted Egbeda to my satisfaction; it is still refreshing,” the painter stated.
The workshop, Adenugba added, afforded “me to use my art as a social commentator.”
George Edozie, one of the artists
That interactive content, perhaps, hardly experienced when an artist goes on a lone plain air, seemed to have excited Olaku. Nature as stimulants for artist, he noted, was a factor here. “The experience enabled artists to interact and ‘converse’ directly with the available natural subject matters.”
If the essence was to widen the scope of art, the future, indeed, counts, hence Asidere’s engagement with the young art enthusiasts of the community both in a theoretical and on the field demonstrations.
And as the community had a better knowledge of art beyond the familiar neighourhood sign writers, Olaku also stressed that the art community could do with such event, regularly. Spontaneity may have its place in art, but the realism painter and landscape specialist argued that though it was a novel, refreshing experience, future event with “comprehensive plan” would be more effective.
The Orelope example, Asidere assured will be replicated in other parts of Lagos such as Allen Avenue, Ikeja and parts of Ikoyi.  Plans were underway to have the works from the first outing exhibited soon, he stated.

Peter Areh art legacy debuts in Lagos

By Tajudeen Sowole
 Friday, 02 September 2011 00:00 
Peter Areh
 DESPITE the absence of its gallery section on the art scene since the death two years ago of founder, Peter Areh, Pendulum Centre for Culture and Development, Lekki, Lagos is partnering with friends of the slain art patron to organise an art event in his honour.
Tagged Peter Areh Lecture on Art and Culture Enterprise, the event, according to the coordinator, Krydz Ikwuemesi, is the initiative of two groups: Art Republic and Pan-African Circle of Artists (PACA). Ikwuemesi, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, stated in Lagos, few days ago, that the lecture was conceived in Peter’s memory as a rallying point for stakeholders in visual arts in the “production of knowledge.”
Areh was murdered in Lagos, on July 2, 2009, under a mysterious circumstance.
The lecture, Ikwuemesi noted, has been designed as a yearly event to be hosted in Enugu and Lagos. “It is hoped that every year, the lecture will be given in Enugu and Lagos by a resource person from Nigeria or elsewhere to be identified and nominated by the Art Republic.”
Last June, the Enugu leg of the maiden lecture was held at the National Museum, Abakaliki Road. The Lagos segment, he said, would hold on Saturday, September 24, 2011 at the Aina Onabolu Building, National Gallery of Art, Iganmu, Lagos. To be delivered by Ikwuemesi, the theme of the lecture is Celebrating Tragedy: Art and Theatre in the Anatomy of Death and Funeral in Africa.
Ikwuemesi explained that though his paper was not originally written for the lecture, “the theme becomes very symbolic as the paper problematises death as an agency which triggers off a chain of creative and symbolic activities.” He noted that from the point of death, through the characteristics of ‘good death’, ‘bad death’ and the several behavioural patters in funeral, some art contents could be distilled.
He, however, cautioned that the theme is not to celebrate the tragic death of Areh, but to philosophically, look at death “as the access road to man’s final abode and logically conclude that funerals, from the African perspective, are a creative affirmation by the living, of their own presence, and a ceremonial invocation of hope for a continued survival beyond the grave.”
Notable personalities in the visual arts such as Omooba Yemisi Shyllon, Mr. Sammy Olagbaju, Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi, Chief Mrs. Nike Okundaye, Mr. John Egesi, former Chairman of Nok Publishers and art collector, Alhaji Abdulaziz Udeh are expected to be at the event.
Ikwuemesi also disclosed that a book of poetry on death and loss, he co-edited with Okey Nwafor with contributions from poets of diverse background, will be presented during the lecture.
Present at the briefing in Lagos were Areh’s mother, Mrs Augusta Areh and daughter, Ms Chinezie Areh. On behalf of the family, they pledged support for the lecture.
Speaking on the long closure of Pendulum Gallery, after the death of Areh, Chinezie said the family was sorting out issues with the management and disclosed that the gallery business would be back as soon the atmosphere is right.
On why an art exhibition was not part of the lecture, painter, Olisa Nwadiogbu said efforts made to include art exhibition did not yield result, because required support, particularly from artists, was not forthcoming.
Ikwuemezi said the 2011 Peter Areh Lecture on Art and Cultural Enterprise is planned as a pilot edition to canvas support and generate ideas in ensuring “that the lecture is continued beyond this first step, not only to celebrate Peter Areh and the trials and triumphs of art and cultural enterprise in Nigeria, but also to create a discursive forum which artists and others can anticipate every year with pride and excitement.”
This maiden edition, he added is supported by Peter Areh Fund for Cultural Enterprise (PETAFUND), National Gallery of Art (NGA), Catholic Institute for Development, Justice and Peace (CIDJAP), Omoba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF), Kuroneko Gallery of Art and Craft, Art Galleries Association of Nigeria (AGAN) and Visual Arts Association of Nigeria (VASON).
Ikwuemezi said PETAFUND was created by the Art Republic and the family of Areh, to ensure continuity for the Peter Areh Lecture.

Art on the Mainland goes to ArtExpo 
 By Tajudeen Sowole
 Friday, 02 September 2011 00:00 
THE yearly gathering of grassroots artists under the platform Artzero, which organises Art on the Mainland exhibition will, hold as part of this year’s International ArtExpo Nigeria.
According to the coordinator of the group, Ato Arinze, a ceramist, the Artzero stands at the 2011 ArtExpo will be all–encompassing with such features as separate theme and catalogue. Art on the Mainland exhibition, since its debut over five years ago, has been restricted to the mainland.
Artzero operates a peculiar kind of mobile gallery different from the regular art gallery exhibitions. It is a gallery managed by a group of artists in Nigeria with emphasis on self-marketing and promotion for artiste.
One of the founding members, Muraina Akeem, said the group also aimed at bringing art and artists closer to the people through distinct interactive activities/programmes, networking, collaborations, projection and publications in order to enhance better practice representation, understanding and patronage of Nigerian art in a global context.

ESTABLISHED in 2002, Artzero, in addition to the Art on the Mainland show, also organises Lagos Artist forum/Education and Workshops. Akeem assured that it would continue in its “variety of laudable well accepted and published programmes.” It has, in the last few years “collaborated with government agencies, international diplomatic missions, and NGOs, few of which are: Alliance  Francaise,  National Gallery of Art, 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).
“Great masters like Dr. Bruce Onabrakpeya, Prof. Abayomi Barber, the pristine head of Barber Art School had featured prominently in our exhibitions as guest artists and others are showing interest to work with us. All of these programmes are achieved with credibility in human power, networking and transparency in line with our mission
statement.
“With a dream to upgrade professional skill and networking through organised studio interactions, exchanges, workshops and seminar; establish Artzero Resource Center for Research and Intellectual Exchanges; institute a Trust Fund to support members’ studio practices, viable projects, cooperative gallery and relative assistances.”

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