Friday, 2 March 2012

Ogunbiyi… Eye beyond the regular art

BY TAJUDEEN SOWOLE
WHEN the US-based artist Temitayo Ogunbiyi made her entry into the country’s art scene about a year ago with a one-day show in Lagos, little did she know that she would soon be hugging the the spotlight. However, her activities both at home and abroad during this period have seen her taking a leap beyond being just an artist to being a curator and interpreter of art.
  From her debut solo, Broken Weaves, to several group shows in Lagos such as A Kilo of Hope and All We Ever Wanted held at the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA), Sabo, Yaba, Lagos, her works have shown a departure from the regular art content in Nigeria.
  Ogunbiyi’s works have proved that she is either ahead of time or operating at a different wavelength from her cotemporaries. Sometimes, there is a prize to pay for being so fixed on a concept.
  One of which is the last National Art Competition organised by African Artists Foundation (AAF) tagged, Documenting Changes. Her assemblage of print and photographs did not impress the panel. From the depth of the concept to the presentation, it beats the imagination how the work missed being among the top three winners.

One of Ogunbiyi's print collages

  Still in search of what she describes as her own art vocabulary, Ogunbiyi has not decided where her base should be — here or the US. She, however, admitted that there seems to be so much to do in Nigeria. Lagos Art, she says, “is full of challenges and huge prospects.” 
 And the lure of strengthening her art abroad led to a solo show few weeks ago, Am I A Thief? held at Freies Museum Berlin, Germany.
 
TRACES of her being ahead of time, in concept, surfaced in the show. The theme wove around the right of intellectual exchanges on the Internet. She asks: “Do we steal from each other or do we collaborate?”
  Her sojourn in Europe, Africa and the US, also, necessitated the desire to consider networking as an essential tool in the artistic process.
  She shares her Kenyan experience, a gathering of artists tagged Wasanii International Artists’ Residency, “I never would have imagined that the trip would incite the sort of conversations that call one to action, compelling artists to challenge infrastructures, which we can hardly consider objectively.”
  Some of the amazing findings include “galleries hustling for their artists and collectors vying for works of emerging artists in Pakistan; that young Indian professionals have taken to collecting art; Tanzania has been blessed with Nafasi Art Space; and others were all totally new to me.” 
   Looking ahead into the foyer of curating, Ogunbiyi, apparently made a strong statement in Richardson Ovbiebo’s show The Forms I Heard, mounted at The White Space, Ikoyi, Lagos.
  She and Ovbiebo met at a group show titled A Kilo of Hope, in Lagos, in which they showed with 14 other artists. On curatorial thoughts for The Forms I Heard, Ogunbiyi notes, “the work highlights the relationships between human and objects, and how these items influence the way human lives.” 

Temitayo Ogunbiyi, during one of her shows in Lagos (2011)

  In curating, understanding and sharing the thoughts of participating artist, Ogunbiyi insists is crucial for the curator. She recalls that while at the Oke Afa Landfill, Isolo, during A Kilo of Hope project, “I realised that Ovbiebo’s interest was far deeper than simply watching people mosey around with hunks of refuse.”
   With Ovbiebo’s The Forms I Heard, Ogunbiyi may no have made a loud announcement, but the intellectual depth of the presentation showed that she is a curator to watch.


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