Thursday 15 September 2011

Prisca Abiodun Aletor

In Benin, Aletor brings gospel on canvas
By Tajudeen Sowole
First published, August 2006)
Over the centuries, the ancient city of Benin has earned an enviable reputation in traditional African art of old, but an exhibition on artistic interpretation of the bible recently adds to that history.
Painter, Prisca Abiodun Aletor leaves a mark using art as a mediun of preaching the gospel in the city of tradition, with a solo exhibition, The Church and Art, which opened on Thursday, August 3, 2006 at Bishop Kelly Pastoral Centre, Benin, Edo State.

Black Madona (oil on canva, 2006) by Aletor

  Scheduled to end on Sunday August 6 2006, about 64 works of oil paintings on exhibition included reproduced concepts of known artists’interpretation of some biblical events as well as Aletor’s version of other events within Christianity context. While a large number of the works presented were on canvas, some glass paintings added colour to the exhibition.
Abstract works like Black Madonna, Move of God, All Things Bright and Beautiful, Meditation and Fountain of Life, to mention a few represent the artist’s African interpretation of some Christian divinity.
   For the stain glass paintings, Aletor, a University of Benin, UNIBEN, lecturer has them in series. Each of the titles has five series, strictly on the time and life of Jesus Christ as visually interpreted over the centuries by artists such as Michelangelo, Paul Reuben and others. Aletor’s paintings included Joyful Mystery, (I to V), which depict the early contact of Mary with Angel Gabriel, birth of baby Jesus, his cradle and his appearance in the temple at the age of 12. Other titles of the stain glass genres presented  were Mystery of Light, (I toV) Sorrowful Mystery (I to V).
Shortly after the opening of the exhibition attended by a very impressive audience, Aletor, while  disclosed that the works were done over a period of two years. Art, she said, has always played a significant role in spreading of religions all over the world. "Artworks have always been a willing handmaid to religion, be it African traditional religion, Islam, Hindu or Christianity," she explained, noting that the Catholic church, till date has been consistent on the strenght of art as a medium of spiritual communication.
 "Testimonies of such ecstasies abound in church records where it is narrated how the faithful fell into ecstasies and visions afer having medtatively and intesivel;y stared into a work of art,"
Explaining the works to the audience, she showed that, her callings to preach the gospel through art is not a fluke as she observed that, fish represents the symbol of the holy kind. The work, Holy Symbol, is a stylised abstraction of the biblical underwater scene where Jonah was swallowed by the fish.

A Stain glass piece (2006) by Aletor

One of the dignitaries present at the exhibition, highlife veteran and multitalented artiste, Victor Uwaifor, also a lecturer at the Fine/Applied Arts Department of UNIBEN, said the exhibiting artist has made a unique leap into the church art, noting that over the ages, art of the Christian genre has been dominated by men. "Aletor, with this exhibition, particularly the stain glass paintings of hers, has thrown the challenge open for others in this part of the world, " Uwaifor said.
  For Reverend Father Monsignor Emonyon, the exhibition hall reminded him of the Vatican city. "Seeing these works, I thought I was in Rome, because that’s the only place where you can see stain glass paintings of this quality," he said.

  In 1976, the artist became one of the pioneer students of the Creative Arts Department, University of Benin, UNIBEN, where she obtained her first Degree and later, the terminal Master Degree, in 1980. She is presently a lecturer in the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, of the same institution. 


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