Thursday, 22 September 2011

Living Masters

Nigeria's Living Masters
BYTAJUDEEN SOWOLE
(First published Mar 11-17, 2007)

WITH their financial records out of public attention, and the formal sector of the economy not really showing interest in their operators, it is always very difficult to evaluate the financial transactions in art gallery business in Nigeria.
  Perhaps, such an opportunity emerged in the recently held exhibition of works of veteran artists for a group show titled Living Masters, held recently at the Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos.
  With the support of Guaranty Trust Bank, GTB Plc, Mydrim Gallery, Ikoyi, took a bold and rare step to assemble famous names of the canvas in a show, the first of its kind. 
  It had works of Abayomi Barber, Bruce Onabrakpeya, Bisi Fakeye, David Dale, Isiaka Osunde, Muraina Oyelami, Kolade Oshinowo, El Anatsui and Yusuf Grillo.
  THE show, which cuts across medium, offered several perspectives into the vast community of art in the land. For example, Barber’s Piper’s Dream, a fantasy kind and David Dale’s Step by Step draw faint line between inspirational and spiritual subjects.
  In the sculpture family, Anatsui’s Royal Reticence and Fakeye’s Oju Meji Lowo Ni (Two Care for a Child) represented a bridge between the traditional, figural images and the classic.
Still on sculpture, the coins are put into fresh use in Osunde’s coin medium.
For Onabrakpeya and Grillo, the spirit behind the huge image which their arts have created over the decades, was heavily felt in the air at this gathering.

AT 77, Barber, a painter, sculptor and teacher, has created some of the most fascinating landscapes in Nigerian art. A man of monumental works, his sculptures are in high places at home and abroad.
  A mixed media artist, Dale,
born In Kano in 1947, is among the few artists who explore beads as a medium. Dale studied Fine Arts and Arts History at the Ahmadu Bello University, specialising in Illustration and Graphics Design.
  A leading name from the famous Osogbo arts circle, Oyelami, born 1940, his works are at public places include the mosaic murals on link bridge of Faculty of Health Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State, executed in 1975.
  Murals and stain glass specialist, Grillo, a former Head of Art Department and Deputy Rector, Yaba Colege of Technolology, Yaba, Lagos is a colossus of the art gallery. He is reputed as the founder of the Dept of Fine and Applied Arts, Yabatech. He was born in 1934
  Onabrakpeya, born in 1932, is a well-known personality in the traditional printing genre. One of his numerous outstanding contributions to the art is the International Art Centre at Agbarha Otor, Delta State, which he founded, and the yearly Harmattan Workshop that holds at the centre.
  A prominent name in the academia and studio art, Oshinowo, born 1947, is the president of Society of Nigerian Artists, SNA, is a painter of exceptional gift. He has quite a list of kings’ portraits in his resume.
  A 1960 graduate of Leningrad Academy of Fine Art, Petersburg, Russia, Osunde, born 1936. one of his works at public places across the country is the Festival, a piece at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.
  El Anatsui, born 1944 of Ghanaian origin, but a Nigerian artist and a professor of Sculpture at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka He is known for his cloth series sculptured from metal bottle tops and woods of which he has earned international repute. He is said to be the most internationally exposed of Nigerian artists in terms of participation in international exhibition. 
  Fakeye, born March 9, 1942
is a widely exhibited sculptor who made his overseas debut exhibition in West Germany in 1976. Some of his works include pieces at the  Nigerian Embassy in Rome, the Federal Guest House in Victoria Island, Lagos and National Gallery of Nigerian Art at the National Arts Theatre, Lagos.
  As the exhibition came to a close yesterday, the days ahead could unveil mega sales from several collections if the gallery involved in the show exhibition would make so open its books for public assessment as it’s done in countries where big prices are quoted.

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