Friday 9 September 2011

Artists, business travelers in Lagos

In Lagos, artists, business travelers lift tourism
 By Tajudeen Sowole
 Friday, 22 July 2011 00:00
 FORMERLY Sofitel and a member of The MGallery Universe, the hotel, currently, is showing works of Duke Asidere, the second artist to feature in the management’s plan of one-artist-a month art exhibition. Bob-Nosa Uwagboe was the first artist to exhibit a body of work that has become his identity in abstract-impressionism.
Eric Houot, the General Manager of MGallery stated that the exhibitions are meant to give something special to visitors and customers of the hotel. Houot noted that though there is influx of foreigners to Nigeria, particularly, Lagos, mostly for business ventures, little, he argued, was known to these visitors, about Nigerian art. “Outside Nigeria, most people know about Nigeria’s oil and gas, but don’t know the art and the artists.” And when a stream of visitors, during the first show met the artist and chatted over his kind of art – Uwagboe had the opportunity to explain the content of his work.
If Nigerian art is missing on the tourism menu of the visitors, flood of art galleries and crafts shops on Lagos and Victoria Islands must have been obscured to these visitors. Not exactly, Houot cautioned. The art galleries, he explained, are not really out of focus. But the nature of the Lagos, especially the notorious Victoria Island traffic, which exhaust people, could make it difficult for business tourists to visit the regular art gallery. He stressed that “what we want to add to our customer’s value is the image of Nigeria – seen through the works of her artists.
For the promoter of the show, Catherine Pittet, a Cameroonian, the choice of the artists blends with the serenity of the environment as well as the class of visitors at the show. The works of the artists, which are mostly subtle representational and impressionistic, inspired a class gathering of art lovers.
Painter, Duke Asidere (left) and guests during his exhibition

THE synergy between the artists and Pittet is a continuation of collaboration, which dates back to the Nigeria-Cameroon art exhibition tour organised by Pittet’s Gondwana art gallery.
Last November artists from four countries gathered in Douala, Cameroon, for an exhibition tagged The Last Pictures Show VII, interactive visual exchange which started in 2009. Asidere and Uwagboe Alex Nwokolo, Ogbemi Heymann, Joshua Nmesirionye, Patrick Agose, Fidelis Odogwu, Babalola Lawson, Kehinde Babalola, and Ayoola and Bob-Nosa Uwagboe joined over 40 other artists from Cameroon, D.R. Congo and Republic of Benin in the four-day show.
It started seven years ago as a local initiative aimed at promoting art collection among the people but the shows, over the years, have featured non-Cameroonian artists who were based in the country. However, the annual event organized by Cameroon based Gondwana took a wider dimension last year by involving Nigerian artists in two shows held in Lagos and Douala. In 1989, Gondwana entered the art and design promotion industry with La Petite Boutique in Bonapriso, Doaula. Pittet’s dream, she stated, was to ensure that artists promote exchanges in unifying Africans at home and in the Diaspora.
The show in Cameroon was an opportunity for young Uwagboe to confirm what some French art connoisseurs in Nigeria observed about his work. He said that over the years, collectors, particularly of French nationals here told him that his kind of work will be better appreciated in French – speaking countries. Indeed, during the special preview attended by diplomats, corporate and group of individuals a day before the public opening, Uwagboe was, busy explaining his work to curious visitors swarming around his collection.
Similar response came from the visitors at the The Moorhouse show, where most of the guests were expatriates.

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