By Tajudeen Sowole
About a year ago, wind of fate brought Stella Ubigho, Ariyo Oguntimehin and Okoro Nathan together at a gathering of artists in Lambe, Ogun State, where art was hardly visible. Soon, Luke Iorah and Chigioke Noga joined them, and the five artists would later find something in common in the environment that linked them with the hope of applying their art to tell stories.
Quite a shift happened, however, as the artists are now telling their stories from a distance outside the space that brought them together. The union is now being celebrated in Same Boundary, a group art exhibition currently showing at Quintessence Gallery, Parkview, Ikoyi, Lagos. The theme of the exhibition, according to the painter Ubigho, is aimed at "creating awareness about the environment we live in."
In some of her works titled Daily Income, a market scene with umbrellas bordering it; God Watch Over Us, protection depicted in a young lady's resting moment; Beauty of Creation, a green landscape of forest; and My Island, a impressionism; the works radiate the artist's thoughts on her environment. She also shares her grief about the mothers whose girls are holed up by terrorists in Sambisa forest, Ubigho depicts a tearjerker scene in Will I See You Again?
The bond among the exhibiting artists goes beyond the physical environment that incubated the union, Nathan notes. "The African identity binds us together, either in traditional, modern and contemporary artistic expression." In one of his works, Over Crowded Society, Nathan takes a critical perspective into urbanization and argues that the state of over-concentration of people in small spaces in urban slums isn’t exactly African, adding, "Africans inherited urbanization from colonial rule."
For Oguntimehin, painting skill expressed in pastel adds a sign of masterly strokes to the gathering. In Protected, his capture of young woman "sleeping after the day's work," may appear too common. But the artist's movement of the pastel tool in communicating the message adds strength to the concept. On the convergence, Oguntimehin also stresses the common environment that brings them together, which "strengthen our art."
Nuts, nails and quite a diverse material in the metal medium have been widely used by artists in recent times. For Chigioke, his choice of nuts in Ode Ya (Party Time) enhances the texture of the metal piece about a lady in party mood in gele.
One of the most resilient themes in the Nigerian art scene in the past three decades or more is ‘Fulani Milk Maid’. And just when you thought that it had been rested, Iorah brings in what looks like "a fresh dimension." Not really much about his claim of freshness in metal, three dimensional in a wall is hanging a moderate piece.
In August last year, a workshop at Greenhouse Gallery organised by Princess Iyase Odozi, brought Ubigho, Oguntimehin and Nathan together as resource persons in pastel and water color paintings. Curator at Quintessence Gallery, Moses Ohiomokhare notes, "apart from borrowing from indigenous imagery, the works of the exhibiting artists lend themselves to contemporary trends."
The curator says the works on display for Same Boundary represent challenges and "emotions in our celebrations" of urban-rural living, and telling "stories of the dignifying way we eke out our living riding on buses and going through roughages with smiles on our faces."