By Tajudeen Sowole
Nike Davies-Okundaye, TY Bello, Nnenna Okore, Wura Natasha Ogunji, Tyna Adebowale, Ranti Bamgbala, Carey Godwin, Taiye Idahor, Zemaye Okediji, Obiageli Okigbo and Karin Troy are ladies making the difference to defeat gender 'imbalance' in art environment.
More interesting, the gathering themed Standing Out, which is currently showing works by the ladies till August 15, 2016 at Temple Muse, Victoria Island, Lagos assemble visual arts contents across the genres.
From painting, mixed media, photography, to design, sculpture and performance art, the artistes whose individual skill suggests incendiary of creativity are, perhaps, not exactly proving any thing new in feminism within the art practice context in Nigeria.
However, the gathering is important to stress the uniqueness of Nigerian female artists as regards visibility. Curated by Sandra Mbanefo Obiago, the show, according to the curator, brings into focus the resilience of women artists in the country compared to her depiction in other climes.
"Female artists are strong in Nigeria compared to other places," she declares during preview of the show. "In Nigeria, more women have art exhibitions."
For Standing Out, the artists highlight issues on feminism and equality, "What echoes through all the works is energy, resilience, interconnections and overlapping memories and identities, with rich visual metaphors of breaking boundaries across psychological, physical and emotional landscapes," says Obiago.
One of the unique aspects of the exhibition comes from master textile artist, Davies-Okundaye whose work in beads would appear strange to not a few followers of her art. A beads work by Davies-Okundaye would hardly come to anyone’s mind, particularly for an artist who is widely known for textile and painting.
Titled Celebration, the work captures ecstatic crowd, complemented by the artists' high key technique in lighting.
Still on shifting from usual signature, Okore brings into the gathering something different from her regular sculpture made of burlap. Though the medium, for her works presented in the show is pastel, in drawing rendition, the fabric theme of which her work is known for remains the same. In fact, the works titled AshoEbi series continues the artist's consistence in expressionism on the richness of native African fabrics.
|The Stare by Tyna Adebowale|
In the works of TY Bello, dualism is expressed as the photographer mattes two scenes from different times to share some space. Made possible with digital technique, one of the works from what she calls Intersection Series is a self-portrait lifted in to share same space with Nigerian diva, Asa.
Now that the Nigerian performance art space is quietly raising its head in the last few years, Natasha Ogunji's name comes into reckoning. But Standing Out here with others, the Diaspora artist adds quite a number of paintings to her contribution. It's still an extension of her performance, she tells guests during the preview. "Yes, there is a connection with my performance." The works explain the artist's thoughts on vision and imagination within the context of migration.
From Idahor's major solo exhibition Hairvolution at Whitespace, Ikoyi in 2014, the artist continues her thoughts on hair and the values. For Stepping Out, the work is less texturised, perhaps, generating varieties for the same theme.
Photography takes a more conceptual tone in underwater pieces by Okediji, whose technique adds painterly texture to the lens art. And when she shares her feeling about the ambience of under water, the artist's passion in search of uncommon medium of expression comes into focus. Largely of what she describes as personal experience, the works place feminism on self-assessment.
From Yoruba and Greek mythologies, U.K-based sculptor, Bamgbala distils what appears like a contemporary texture of pottery. Her kind of rendition, potentially, has the prospects of generating interest to revive the traditional role of women in the pottery profession.
Feminism becomes bolder and daring with Adebowale's ink portraits: either in The Stare, a heavily made face with bold braids as well as a topless piece.
For the Temple Muse space and the feminine tone of the exhibition, Troy's design pieces come as a strong complement in jewelry in such works as Onitsha Bride and The World in Her Hands.
Remember the late poet, Christopher Okigbo? Yes, the memory of the civil war period of the great poet reverberates in his daughter, Obiageli who brings visual interpretation of her father's poetry on to the canvas. Among her works is a nine set of ladies portraits rendered in pop art painting.
"I have always believed that women across the globe stand out," Mbanefo Obiago insists. "Women in Africa stand out even more in the midst of immense pressures." She supports her argument with experience of many years working at "the cutting edge of environment and development issues."
The attraction for the curator, she discloses, is that the works of the exhibiting artists "echoe energy, resilience, interconnections and overlapping memories and identities, with rich visual metaphors of breaking boundaries across psychological, physical and emotional landscapes."