By Tajudeen Sowole
A fusion of the kitchen and photography suggests that cooking is also an art as two photographers focus their lenses on the culinary skills of three professionals, culminating into a new concept for contemporary art space.
White Island, Photography on aluminium, sculptured with shredded cassava and coconut, herbs, bell peppers and chili, buts, lime cheeks and smoked fish
At Rele Gallery, Onikan, Lagos, the collaboration between photographers - Kelechi Amadi-Obi, Ade Asiko Okelarin and culinary professionals - Tiyan Alile, Ozoz Sokoh and Dunni Obata – projects a scenery that is awesome.
Presented on aluminium, the photography captures the culinary artists' sculptural texture of different foods in diverse themes, thereby exhale freshness into Lagos art space. As much as the photographers in the collaboration help in projecting the creativity and depth of sculptural tone, the culinary artists’ moulding of the pieces is the real attraction in the concept.
From a landscape depiction titled White Island, sculptured with shredded cassava and coconut, herbs, bell peppers and chili, buts, lime cheeks and smoked fish by Sokoh, photographed by Amadi Obi; to On The Move prepared by Obata with ingredients such as beans, tatashe, ata-rodo, onions and eggs, photographed from Asiko’s lens; and Alile's grilled atlantic pompano skins, red capsicum, pea puree, chili flakes titled Copper and photographed by Amadi-Obi, the exhibits either swell or stunt one's appetite. And quite poetic titles for each work, energising the entire concept of the gathering.
Other works include Bridge Of Textures, Yaji Atlantic, Yellow Lagos, Marina, Heat Wave and Oasis in The Desert photographed by Amadi-Obi, The Yajichurri Lamb Tree, Fruit Pond, Sea Okro and Sheltered, photographed by Asiko.
In a Lagos art gallery scene that has thrived - and still strong - on its conservative contents, concept such as What's Cooking? is indeed blazing a trail.
Whose concept: the exhibited artists or gallery? "The concept is that of the gallery," director at Rele Gallery, Adenrele Sonariwo disclosed. "We believe that with the richness of Nigerian art and talents, so much can be done with technology to create art."
Among Nigeria's rich culture, food, according to Communication Manager at Rele, Ayodeji Rotinwa, "is one of the most colourful and vibrant social political contexts," that is potentially available "as a mark of identity or in our case ethnicity." He however noted that food "is one of the least documented parts of our said culture." For the gallery, bringing the subject into space as "an art form," is a step towards the "largely unexplored" theme.
Meet the culinary artists: Obata is the blogger of Dooney's Kitchen. Her bio says she is an IT Project Manager who loves cooking as a passion. "I love entertaining, and one of my bad habits is feeding people, so guests beware. When I'm not cooking, I'm watching Food Network, American TV series and National Geographic in that order. When I want peace and quiet, I curl up on the sofa and read a good book.
"I'm very passionate about Nigerian food. I believe our food has a lot to offer globally, and with the right exposure, it can stand proud alongside food from other cultures."
Sokoh is an exploration geologist who is also "passionate about food in its entirety – cooking, eating, dreaming, writing and photographing it."
Alile is a chef by profession and the founder of Culinary Academy. Her bio says when she is out of the kitchen, she is either playing golf, listening to Jazz, teaching the practice of yoga or dedicating her time to humanitarian work with the Rotary Club of Victoria Island East.
Over a year ago, Rele opened with My Street Economics, added Lagos Hustle & Hope and almost immediately followed it up with Strip, which featured the works of painters Ayoola Gbolahan, Ibeabuchi Anababa and Isaac Emokpae as well as photographers Amadi-Obi, Reza Bonna, Toyosi Faridah Kekere Ekun and Logor Oluwamuyiwa Adeyemi.
Among the gallery's freshness into the art scene, even when showing old artists, came recently with printmaker Tayo Quaye's adventure into painting. The show brought into art space intimate female hygiene, which relatively, appeared too bold for a conservative Lagos art scene.