Thursday, 12 July 2012

Onyeador… an enduring art gallery legacy


By Tajudeen Sowole
Culture promoter and socialite, Angela Onyeador may have passed on, but her contribution to Nigeria's art and culture space would not be left out in the history of Nigeria’s creative sector.
In establishing her passion for the creative sector, Onyeador – a public relation expert – set up African Foundation for the Arts (AFA). 
She died in the U.S., on Monday, June 11, 2012, in her 50s.
Despite being known as promoter of the Arts, she always insisted that Public Relation was her profession. 
Also more glamorously known for organising beauty contests in the 1980s, her enduring legacy, however, is promoting visual arts. In fact, Onyeador’s art gallery, African Foundation for the Arts Gallery (AFA), Victoria Island, Lagos is still active till date.
The last exhibition held at the gallery, between December 2011 and January this year, showed that the gallery was not dormant, contrary to perception. Titled Artistic Juice, a body of work by Ibrahim Gbadamosi shown in the gallery was also meant to be the window for a new beginning for the gallery.
The curator of the gallery, Earnest Chukwurah, stated, “we will continue to export talented and bold artists like Gbadamosi who  follow their passion.”
Angela Onyeador
On the quality, which the gallery looks out for in artists, Chukwurah said, for example, Gbadamosi has improved from his rug and shoemaking days, though, “he does not have a definite style yet, and this is typical of most artists in the beginning of their career when they test the waters and experiment with difference styles and techniques.”   
For the artist, it was not the kind of show expected to elicit curiosity, but when he made his debut at the AFA Gallery, he set the scene for critical discussions of his yet to be codified ‘artistic corpus’.
The contents of the show challenged all held assumptions about the border between craft and art. Gbadamosi, perhaps, being a self-taught artist, innocently, presented works that will set the academia reflecting on the dichotomy between craft and art.
Onyador’s touch on the art and culture apparently was not accidental. As a student at the Queen’s College, Yaba, Lagos, she had gone through the rudiments of music and Fine Arts.
As fate did not allow her to end up an artist – largely due to the fact that she yielded to her parents’ resistance – she grew up to release that passion in promoting art and culture.
Onyeador, a native of Arochukwu, Abia State and child of Alexander and Beartrice Onyeador, was well known as one of the top collectors of African art of diverse nativity.        
Sometimes there is a prize, perhaps, burden in promoting art. But for Onyeador, these are not enough to distract her, always arguing that that art and culture have a big part in the future of Nigeria.

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