Thursday 22 September 2011


Revelations from a Recess
(First published 17- 23 June 2007)

Four years break in the span of an ambitious project could be traumatic.
  That shadow of a bumpy short period though hid faintly in this year’s group art exhibition of the alumni of Fine Art Department, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, titled Best of Ife 2007, but the show, which is till on, revealed a ‘master’ in the making.

Funmi Oyetosho's Desert Horses (acrylic on canvas)

  At a show of this kind, one can hardly go wrong with a mindset on who make the list as well as the most likely look of their works. But the 2007 edition sub-themed Return From Recess has a mixture of old and fresh names. In the familiar artists like Kunle Filani, Tola Wewe, Mufu Onifade, Tunde Ogunlaye, Jide Abioye and Kunle Osundina, to new comers like Funmi Oyetosho, Rotimi Adekunle Rhoda Mabadeje and Gbemi Momoh, it is a creative combination.
Whoever designed the mounting pattern of the exhibits at the less spacious Quintessence Gallery, Falomo Ikoyi, Lagos venue of the group’s show really knows how not to hide a distinct piece, among  known artist’s works. The placement of the acrylic piece on canvas, Desert Horses in what looked like an obscured top, ironically, turned out to attract one’s attention.
  Without taking anything away from the known names of this edition, Oyetosho’s Desert Horses blew a fresh breath into the show.
  Clearly an unknown name, Oyetosho brushes into our thought in a work that is less of strokes and shades, but more of psychological capture.
  Her capture of some caravan on a desert and under the sunset is subtly depicted on canvas, lending support to the thought of wilderness as she scales down the travelers to near infinity.
  One distinct attempt like this, from an artist with little or no pedigree is could be a flash in the pan. Oyetosho is not likely to fall into such category of artists. Traces of an artist consistent with rare expression is further seen in another work of hers, Looking for Ajoke.  

Kunle Filani's My Garment of Honour (mixed madia)

  With abstraction, an artist is at liberty to swim in fantasy of ideas and expression and invade the viewers’ sensibility. This is what Onifade has done, overtly, in the araism work Ijanu (Resource Control). In this ancient art style, he throws raw obscenity at our face. No restrain. And just in case you pretend not to see the artist’s idea of resource control in a naked male figure and his two stark nude females, Onifade, in his weird thought emphasised the man’s ‘thing’ in white highlight. That emphasis, one suspects, is the Ijanu.
  Between Larinka (Endless Journey), a two man team on a desert ride and Ode Aperin (Brave Hunter), Onifade gives us two ends of ecological and cultural divide. While the former offered a look into the desert nature of the Northern hemisphere, the latter is a hunter whose paraphernalia suggests that of the Yoruba in the rain forest of South West Nigeria.
  The richness of the exhibition would not be complete without mentioning the mixed media effort of Filani, My Garment of Honour, Wewe’s untilted wood piece, Ogunleye’s sculpture, Shield, Folaranmi’s Ibeji and  Ajiboye’s Plantain Market.
  Best of Ife made its debut in 1993, but went on a unscheduled break after the 2003 edition. The event, which often includes seminar was facilitated by Ara Studios. 

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