Sunday, 11 September 2011

Gbenga Offo, Segun Aiyesan and Diseye Tantua

It's the curator's world of Unspoken Words
BY TAJUDEEN SOWOLE
Sunday, 11 September 2011 00:00 
 THE just-concluded group show, Unspoken Words, held at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos, brought some curatorial depth in merging three artists, with distinct characters, under a common theme.
Gbenga Offo, a figural expressionist was consistent in predictive form and style.
Gbenga Offo's oil on canvas (2011)
In subjugating colours and images, Segun Aiyesan, in both representational and abstractive form, created simple visuals from images.
For pop artist, Diseye Tantua, who is fast showing prominence in the flat colour art in the country, this show, has strengthened his hold on this art form. In fact, he seemed to be stepping into Lemi Ghariokwu’s Afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti and the late American artist, Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe themes.
However, Tantua, in nearly half of his works on display, still showed a convincing eclectic sensibility: some of his works cut across the regular painting and charcoal drawings.
A softer rendition or version of his bolekaje lorry themes in Slow and Steady I and II (charcoal and coffee on paper) as well as Rest (oil on canvas), which are sharp contrast to the pop art, he says, is “an attempt to prove that I am not a one-form artist.” This, he further stresses in the impasto-textured piece, Great Expectation (oil on canvas).
Diseye Tantua's Different Different Fever (2011)
 Again, the piece, Different Different Fever, which gave the artist, his auction record till date at the ArtHouse’s sixth edition sale, in 2010, re-surfaced at the show in a-three-panel series titled Different Different Fever II. A combined smoker-musical image, the bold inscriptions and the iconic Fela’s face battle for viewers’ attention in this work, which continues to strengthen the artist’s afro-pop art rendition.
For the Monroe portraiture, it’s a clear tribute to Warhol, who made the actress more popular than the photographer that took the famous posture. Tantua says, “it’s an irresistible image that I would paint over and over.” 
  BEING known for a particular form of art or style is not really as difficult for artists as the sustainability of it. Offo, in the stylised big eyes, appears to have found a footing, such that he argues it was one of the most important decisions that he had to make. However, he would not wait for saturation to set in.  He states: “One must constantly endeavour to explore new ways of doing things, so that, new doors would be opened.” The search for that ‘unique’ form, he warns, is an endless, exciting and rewarding journey.
Aiyesan, among other themes, takes a swipe at the insensitive of leaders in Spite, a work, a conceptual but subtly abstractive work. He says, it was inspired by the popular adage ‘don’t cut your nose to spite your face.’ He urges Nigerian leaders, at all level to ponder at this common saying by “addressing issues methodically rather than plunge the populace into adversity in order to dispel a minor issue.”
Segun Aiyesan's oil on canvas (2010)
AS the first outing conceptualised by Terra Kulture this year, Unspoken Words, indeed, has the curatorial depth that is consistent with the past shows of the gallery. For example, the An Evening With the Masters, held last year and featured Abayomi Barber, Ablade Glover, Bruce Onobrakpeya and Kolade Oshinowo was a high profile concept. Though not in that category, Unspoken Words, by the diversity of the artists’ styles and techniques still falls within the concept.
However, the six-day duration was too short and did not go well with most patrons who graced the show.
  Gbenga Offo trained at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, Nigeria and was Best Over All Art Student in 183/84.
  Segun Aiyesan graduated from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State, Nigeria in 1995
  Diseye Tantua trained in Fine and Applied Arts. 
Auction record: N1.7m (Different Different Fever, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 18.75 in.,) at ArtHouse Contemporary sales, Lagos, Nigeria, March 2009

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