Friday, 26 September 2014

Four years after, LBHF artists reconvene for Our United Heritage


By Tajudeen Sowole
 Emerging from the rubbles of the short-lived Caterina De’ Medici-inspired Lagos Black Heritage Festival Painting Competition, a group now known as 3rd Black Heritage Artists attempts to keep the spirit of the gathering alive. Formally reconnecting after about four years, the artists will, from October 4, 2014 show about 60 works under the title Our United Heritage, at Nike Art Gallery, Lekki, Lagos.

Recall that the artists participated at the third Lagos Black Heritage Festival’s art competition section in 2010. The competition LBHF Painting Competition themed Lagos, the City of A Thousand Masks, which was a franchise from Florence, Italy’s yearly event, Caterina De’ Medici Painting Awards, debuted in Nigeria, courtesy of Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka. Won by Abbas Kelani, who got $20,000 prize money, the competition ran into a hitch a year after, leading to unresolved conflict of interests between the organisers and Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA), Lagos State chapter.

Wheels by Dr. Kunle Adeyemi

One of the artists, Dr. Kunle Adeyemi, who is among the promoters of the third Black Heritage Artists, stated during a preview that the regrouping of the artists was premised on the rarity of the 2010 gathering. “I do not think the Nigerian art scene has witnessed such a large number of well established professional artists in one art competition,” he stated. And to keep the memory of the “historic competition alive, we have formed the 3rd Black Heritage Artists”. The group, Adeyemi disclosed, “has been duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC),” apparently to avoid any plagiarism or link with the ill-fated Italy franchised art competition. However, the LBHF Painting Competition currently holds as age group for school children.

Exhibiting artists of ‘Our United Heritage’ include Adeoye Silas, Aimufa Osagie, Akintubode Gbenga, Akinwolore, Bimbo Adenugba, Ekweme Harriet, Folami, Idowu Abiola, Ighpdalo George, Ike Francis, John Onobrakpeya, Abbas, Kunle Adeyemi, Munza, Omidiran Gbolade, Oni Stephen, Sola Olamuyiwa and Uchenna Umeh.

Some of the works for the show presented during the preview cut across medium of painting and mixed media. Adeoye’s rendition of ancient form figures in The Repent and Egun 2 as well as Osagie’s modernist’s stylized portraiture in Family Ties and Passion stress the diversity of the gathering. Also, in the abstraction Spacerithim by Francis and Adeyemi’s Drummer and Wheels, come contents that seem to justify the gathering.

For Abbas, who won the grand prize at the rested competition, quite a lot has changed in his art between 2010 and now. This much he continues in works such as Family Album Series, Ale and Irole as well as The Printer. Of recent, Abbas has changed the tone of his canvas, delving into portraiture of highly archival themes and rendering them in concept of photographs, acrylic and prints on canvas. Adding to the richness of the gathering are Gbolade’s sea of mask themes depicted in Market Transformation and Music Matters.

Rasheed Amodu who writes a piece for the cataloque of the show notes that the gathering offers the public to assess the artists, individually. He adds that it “will help the artist to make positive professional progress.” And not afinality for those who were less prepared for the exhibition. “Artists with works that are not so great for now can produce great works and masterpieces in the near future. It is a truism that all artistic genius were students or apprentice at some point in their career. Thus, let the show go on, but there must be other shows from the group after this first step.”

The maiden edition of Caterina de’ Medici International Painting Competition took place in the city of Florence in year 2002.The coordinator of LBHF Painting Competition, Foluke Michael led three Nigeria artists to the awards. Ten winners were chosen, and at the end of the six-day event, one of the Nigerian representatives, Olubunmi Ogundare was among the top 10.

Also, a Nigerian artist, Sam Ebohon won the Grand Prize of the Caterina de’ Medici International Painting Competition a year after.

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