Saturday, 1 October 2022

Chibuzo's 'Portraits of Emotion', Muse's 'Nature Sensation' on display at Signature Beyond

'Time Value' (oil on canvas, 61 X 92 cm, dated 2021), by Nojeem Muse.

Aguh Chibuzo's 'Hopeful' (oil on board, 20 x 16, dated 2022).

TWO solo art exhibitions of Aguh Chibuzo and Nojeem Muse, respectively, in a single space, assert the boldness of Signature Beyond Art Gallery in expanding its competitive edge on the Lagos art scene.

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

With 'No Pain, No Gain', Vivid Art Gallery explores new space, fresh contents

'Fela - Digging It Deep' (oil on canvas, 36 X 48 inches, dated 2022), by Timi Kakandar on display during No Pain, no Gain group art exhibition at The Wings Complex, Victoria Island, Lagos... recently.

EXPANDING the art circuit of Lagos seems to be getting better as No Pain No Gain, an on going art exhibition suggested last weekend. Opened on the top floor of The Wings Complex, 17A, Ozumba Mbadiwe Ave, Victoria Island Lagos, the amazing space of the new venue, to an extent, created breathing space enough for the works on display.

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

For Ishag's art, Africa Institute, SAF, Serpentine converge in London

'Blues for the Martyrs' (oil on canvas, 203 X 300 cm, dated 2022), by Kamala Ibrahim Ishaq. Pic: c/o SAF.

REGARDED as a leading Figure of the Crystalist Movement Kamala Ibrahim Ishag has forged a unique and expansive practice which is not defined by a singular style or movement.

This autumn, Serpentine and Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF), in collaboration with The Africa Institute, organise a major exhibition of pioneering Sudanese artist Kamala Ibrahim Ishag (b. 1939) in London. The exhibition at Serpentine South in London will take place from 7 October to 29 January 2023. The exhibition builds on the major solo exhibition of the artist’s work organised by and presented at Sharjah Art Foundation in 2016. 

Her work embraces and expresses different earthly and spiritual landscapes and histories of Sudanese visual culture across many eras. The artist also roots her practice around subjects including women, spiritualism, Zar ceremonies, plants and stories from her mother and grandmothers in relation to how she has experienced them.

The exhibition celebrates the breadth and importance of Ishag’s work and offers London audiences insights into her worlds, featuring works spanning from the 1960s to today, including her time in London studying at the Royal College of Art (RCA) from 1964-66, in addition to new paintings created in her Khartoum studio that have previously never been presented. Alongside large-scale canvases and works on paper, Ishag also paints on different surfaces such as calabashes, screens and leather drums. A selection of the artist’s graphic design practice and material from her personal archive will offer context to her prolific career and experiences of living and working predominantly in Sudan, in addition to a shorter period of self-exile in London and Muscat, in the Sultanate of Oman for part of the 1990s and early 2000s.

Ishag’s work contemplates a cyclical flow of life and communal female experiences as seen in paintings such as Women in Crystal Cubes, 1984 and Four Faces of Eve, 2016, featured in the exhibition. Highlights will include her recent large paintings. In Blues for the Martyrs, 2022, faces are captured in floating balls connected by rising plant-like forms, set against a watery blue environment. It is a homage to the hundreds of people killed at a peaceful sit-in on 3 June 2019 on what became known as the Khartoum Massacre (Majzarat al-Qiyada). Many young men and women were forcibly disappeared and drowned in the river; and in her painting Ishag imagines these young people growing into trees. This connection between human and plant life is also explored in Bait Al-Mal, 2019. Here, Ishag maps her memories and the complex connections between the families and landscape of her childhood neighbourhood Bait Al-Mal through figures that are joined to each other by roots of the trees surrounding their homes.

Ishag is recognised for painting groups of women with their faces distorted in crystalline spheres and cubes, and plant forms. In a palette of muted hues, she roots her images in the colours of the sun, sand and sky of the earthly and spiritual subject matter she depicts. Her work centres on the intangible aspects of women’s lives in Sudan. Ishag’s inspiration draws from the field research she carried out there with spiritualist women convening healing Zar ceremonies in the 1960s, which she connected to the visionary work of William Blake (1757–1827), particularly his exploration of spirituality and incarnation through the sublime in his paintings and poetry.

Alongside such influences come the flora in her Khartoum home garden, mythology and stories of spirits told by her mother and grandmothers. Integral to the development of her practice is the history of Sudanese culture from the prehistoric, Kerma culture, other Nubian civilisations, including Kushite and Meroetic, to the Christian and Islamic eras, which materialised in 1971 as a public mural in the lobby of the Sudan National Museum presenting the visual history of ancient Sudan.

Both a master modernist and innovative contemporary painter, Ishag continues to influence artists internationally and has been a prominent teacher and mentor to generations of practitioners, especially in her role as a professor of painting for over 30 years in Sudan. She was amongst the first women artists to graduate from the College of Fine and Applied Art in Khartoum in 1963. In the early to mid-1960s, she was considered part of the Khartoum School. Later, she became the leading figure of the conceptual Crystalist Group in Sudan during the 1970s and 1980s. Crystalism leaned towards a postmodern style and positioned itself in opposition to the Khartoum School’s male-dominated and identity politics-centered view. The manifesto, written by Shaddad and signed by Ishag and other members of the group, was published in the Khartoum newspaper al-Ayyam in 1976. It advocated for a new aesthetic modelled on diversity, transparency and existentialist theory. It envisions the universe as a crystal cube – transparent but always changing according to the viewer’s position.

The artist also holds important connections to London after studying at the Royal College of Art (RCA), where she developed an interest in the visionary works of William Blake and Francis Bacon’s approach to portraiture. Together, with the distortions she saw in window reflections on Underground trains these encounters influenced her unique depiction of figures and faces.

Kamala Ibrahim Ishag says: “It is very special for me to have this exhibition at Serpentine as I studied close to Hyde Park at the Royal College of Art in the 1960s and I have spent time living in London. I have completed new paintings for this exhibition which will be shown alongside works from across my career. These are all connected by images of humans and plants – the vital elements that constitute all life. It is wonderful to be working with Serpentine, Sharjah Art Foundation and The Africa Institute on this project.”

Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director, Sharjah Art Foundation says: “The remarkable range and importance of Kamala Ibrahim Ishag’s practice was evidenced in her first retrospective at Sharjah Art Foundation in 2016. In preparation for that exhibition, I had the great privilege to spend time with her in Khartoum and witness the profound influence she has had, both as a painter and professor, on generations of artists she has taught over many decades. A fundamental goal of the Foundation in organising such critical exhibitions is to bring the practices of significant artists such as Kamala to a broad audience and to new, global platforms. We are pleased to be working with London’s Serpentine on this exhibition, a collaboration that will continue to advance awareness and scholarship on this important artist.”

Bettina Korek, Serpentine CEO, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Serpentine Artistic Director, say: “We are thrilled to partner with Sharjah Art Foundation and The Africa Institute to bring the work of this pioneering artist to London. Kamala’s thinking of not “imprisoning” the artist within one idea is central to the work we are doing at Serpentine. We believe artists are key to many disciplines and areas of society, never restricted within boundaries. The exhibition follows an ongoing series of recent surveys exploring the breadth and depth of important and prolific artists Luchita Hurtado, Faith Ringgold, Hervé Télémaque and James Barnor. It is part of an ongoing strand of programming at Serpentine that aims to present more diverse histories by presenting solo shows that expand audiences’ experience and knowledge of artists working globally. Kamala’s seven decades of art making leads the way with this idea.”

Salah M. Hassan, Director, The Africa Institute says: “I am delighted to work with Serpentine and Sharjah Art Foundation to bring Kamala Ishag’s ground-breaking practice to London. Kamala challenged tradition and forged a new style, paving the way for many women and men, and younger generations which she has mentored over the years, including the Crystalists group. Through this exhibition, we look forward to expanding the understanding of African and African diaspora modernist and contemporary art practices, by showcasing her influence in Sudanese art and her reputation as one of the most important painters in African and global modern art.”

The artist’s first monograph will be published on the occasion of the exhibition by Sharjah Art Foundation, The Africa Institute, Serpentine and Koenig, and will be available in early 2023.

Kamala Ibrahim Ishag is organised by Sharjah Art Foundation and Serpentine, in collaboration with The Africa Institute, Sharjah. It is co-curated by Hoor Al Qasimi, Director, Sharjah Art Foundation; Salah M. Hassan, Director, The Africa Institute, Sharjah, and Professor at Cornell University; and Melissa Blanchflower, Curator Exhibitions and Public Art, Serpentine, with Sarah Hamed, Assistant Curator, Serpentine.

Kamala Ibrahim Ishag was amongst the first women artists to graduate from the College of Fine and Applied Art in Khartoum in 1963, which she followed with studies in Mural Painting at the RCA in London between 1964 and 1966 and Lithography, Typography and Illustration from 1968-9. In the early 1960s, Ishag was considered a member of the Khartoum School together with contemporaries including Ibrahim El Salahi and Ahmad Shibrain, which collectively forged a modern identity for the newly independent nation by drawing on both Arabo-Islamic and African artistic traditions. However, Ishag’s role as an international pioneer was established in her co-founding the conceptual art movement known as the Crystalists in the mid-1970s with her students Muhammad Hamid Shaddad and Nayla El Tayib among others. The Crystalists leaned towards a postmodern style and positioned themselves in opposition to the Khartoum School’s male- dominated and identity politics-centered view. The manifesto, written by Shaddad and signed by Kamala Ishag and other members of the group, was published in the Khartoum newspaper al-Ayyam in 1976, advocated for a new aesthetic modelled on diversity, transparency and existentialist theory.

Parallel to her painting practice, Ishag was an influential professor during her three-decade tenure at the College of Fine Arts in Khartoum. There, she held the position of Head of Painting Department and brought in a new critical and international perspective. She lived in exile between Muscat and London from 1991-2012, and subsequently returned to Khartoum where she currently lives and works.

This survey exhibition builds upon Ishag’s recent major solo exhibitions organised by and presented at Sharjah Art Foundation (2016) and at Prince Claus Fund, Amsterdam (2019). Exhibitions in Sudan including several at the Institut Français of Khartoum (2014 and 2015), Shibrain Art Centre, Khartoum (2014), and Sudan National Museum, Khartoum (1974). She also had a solo exhibition in Akhnaton Gallery, Cairo, Egypt (1970), and other group exhibitions at Camden Arts Centre, London, UK (1969), National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC, USA (1993), the Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (1995), University of Brighton Art Gallery, Brighton, UK (2000), Royal Society of Fine Arts, Amman, Jordan (2002), and Saatchi Galleries, London, UK (2018). In 2019 she was awarded the prestigious Principal Prince Claus Award for Culture, and in 2020 she participated in the Lahore Biennial, Lahore, Pakistan. Ishag’s work is held in international collections including The Jordan National Museum of Fine Art, Sharjah Art Foundation, Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. and Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Sunday, 25 September 2022

Lagos' street slangs lifting Afrobeats, Afropop music, globally

Lagos, divided naturally, by waters into three: Mainland, Lagos Island and Victoria Island.

"Lagos is by far the most important town in West Africa," wrote Harold Bindloss, in 1898.

OVER 123 years after Bindloss made that statement in one of his books, Lagos is still the most important city in West Africa. In fact, in evolution of African musical contents, Lagos has created a strong cultural hub from where Africa, and the diaspora, in the past and currently, have attained global appreciation. 

Saturday, 17 September 2022

'Eve of 70 Life Drawing' with Mrs Modupe Ogunlesi

Two of the five artists, Lekan Onabanjo and Wallace Ejoh with Sitter, Modupe Ogunlesi in the background during the Life Drawing event... recently.

AS a medium in documenting events and celebrating iconic individuals, Art strengthened its core value, recently, in Lagos.

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

In Lagos, Dudu, Brown, Ohagwu show 'Figures & Colours'

'Sharing Formula Analysis' (oil on canvas, 43x48 inches, dated 2022),, by Stanley Dudu.

EXCLUSIVE panoply of oil and acrylic paintings, as well as mixed media works will be on display in an exhibition titled Figures and Colours, which opens on Saturday, September 24, showing till Sunday, 25, 2022, at Angels and Muse: 5, Sumbo Jibowu Street off Ribadu, Ikoyi, Lagos Island.

Thursday, 8 September 2022

At Omolayo Gallery's 19th Creative Workshop, under-10, teenagers show art, poetry, music

Visitors and participants at the art exhibition segment of Omolayo Gallery's 9th Creative Workshop, in Lagos... recently.

THE Young At Art Children and Teenagers Creative Workshop founded in 2003 by Biodun Omolayo as a flagship program of Omolayo Gallery held its 19th edition to the admiration of the general public. Held on Saturday, September 3, 2022 at City Mall, Onikan, Lagos, the event's participants included school children from across private and public schools in Lagos.

Wednesday, 31 August 2022

'East of sun, west of moon' by Oscar yi Hou goes to Brooklyn Museum

Oscar yi Hou's 'East of sun, west of moon'.

OSCAR yi Hou: East of sun, west of moon marks Oscar yi Hou’s first solo museum show and is presented as part of the Brooklyn Museum’s annual UOVO Prize for an emerging Brooklyn-based artist.

Friday, 26 August 2022

London Design Festival's Global Forum 2022 rolls out curated programmes

Sony design's new virtual reality.

TAKING place at the V&A from 17 - 25 September Global Design Forum is the London Design Festival’s curated thought leadership programme, celebrating design and the minds shaping its future. 

Friday, 12 August 2022

At Zeitz Museum, 'A Century of Black Figuration In Painting' celebrates African, Pan-diaspora art

'Homeage' (oil on canvas, 2022), by Sphephelo Mnguni.

ZEITZ MOCAA announces an exhibition titled When We See Us: A Century of Black Figuration In Painting, to opens in November 2022. The exhibition will be the precursor to the museum's Gala fundraising weekend in collaboration with luxury fashion brand, Gucci.

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Biyi Bandele (1967-2022)

Biyi Bandele.

FILMMAKER, Biyi Bandele passed on, in Lagos, on Sunday August 7, 2022. He had to his credits among other films Half of a Tellow Sun, Blood Sisters and newly announced The Kings Horsemen. 

His daughter, Temi Bandele expressed her sadness: "As Biyi's daughter, I am heartbroken to share the sudden and unexpected death on Sunday 7th of August in Lagos of my father Biyi Bandele."

Temi wrote on his father's Facebook: "Biyi was a prodigiously talented writer and film-maker, as well as a loyal friend and beloved father.   He was a storyteller to his bones, with an unblinking perspective, singular voice and wisdom which spoke boldly through all of his art, in poetry, novels, plays and on screen.    He told stories which made a profound impact and inspired many all over the world.  His legacy will live on through his work.

 "He was taken from us much too soon. He had already said so much so beautifully, and had so much more to say.

 "We ask everyone to please respect the privacy of his family and friends as we grieve his loss."

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Goddesses, heroines lead spiritual world in Feminine Power, black women museum

A section of the exhibition 'Feminine Power' still showing at The British Museum.

PROJECTING the history of women's spiritual influence is  Feminine Power, an exhibition organised by The British Museum, U.K, which opened in May, and still showing till September 25, 2022.

Friday, 29 July 2022

Malagasy artist, Joël Andrianomearisoa's site-specific art opens at Zeitz MOCAA

Joël Andrianomearisoa's work at Zeitz MOCAA.

ZEITZ Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) announces a riveting site-specific commission of monumental scale by Malagasy artist, Joël Andrianomearisoa titled The Five Continents of All Our Desires. The installation is supported by Fonds Yavarhoussen, Madagascar, and will be on view from 2 August 2022 to 25 June 2023 in the museum’s atrium.