Friday 23 September 2011

Unilag artists

Enter, Phases artists
 THE trend of artists grouping to promote artistic identity and virtues of their alma mater has spurred some ex-art students of the University of Lagos (Unilag) into what could be described as a rescue mission.  
Babatunde ’s Benin Woman
   At Terra Kulture Art Gallery, Victoria Island, Lagos, these artists, last week, opened a show titled Phases, as a platform for their school’s ex-students’ to showcase their works post-schooling.
    Though, last year, a similar show titled Our Cultural Palette, mounted in the lobby of Oriental Hotel, Lekki, Lagos, suggested that artists who graduated from the school regrouped, Phases, according to one of the coordinators, Odiakose Greg Onyeka, formally, marked the first elaborate show of the ex-students.
  In artistic content, these artists, like their predecessors may not share common styles or techniques like their counterparts from other schools; but individually, there are prospects to position them for greater things ahead.
  To strengthen the culture of promoting the school’s virtues, few of its current students were among the 15 featured. The artists and students were Ikyeleve David, Adeniran David, Obozuwa Osikhueme, Sunny Issac, Odiakose Greg Onyeka, Olasunmade Taiwo, Ngozi Igwe, Ifeanyi Egwu and Isimi Taiwo. Others included Thomas Oji, Kole Oluwagbemi, Osisa Taye, Obadina Babatunde, Uly Ogwa and Bakare Sherif Adewole.
WITH shows such as Best of Ife 2007 a gathering of alumni of Fine Art Department, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife; Treasures of Benin, by alumni of University of Benin (UNIBEN); Transformation, by ex-students of Auchi Polytechnic; artists, in recent times, have been paying tribute to their different schools.
   And as the dynamics of art becomes a reality, it is no longer fashionable to stick to a peculiar school’s identity. This was noticed in the diversity of the Unilag artists, just as they lacked traces of established masters in their strokes.
   For example, Babatunde’s sculptural piece Benin Woman and Lily’s painting Business as Usual radiate a touch of independence, while Sherif’s mixed media, a combination of abstraction, realism and a bit of minimalism shows that he is set to fight for a space among expressionist artists.
   Osikhueme’s wood assemblage, Success is a tall man — a rendition in painting, drawing and design, adds vibrancy and colours to the gathering and as well sends signals that a master in panel work is around the corner.
Painting by Onyike
IF Onyeka’s assurance that Phases has come to stay as a yearly event is certain, then the absence of artists trained in the school would soon be filled. In fact, the featured artists to a large extent represent the emerging identity of Unilag’s former art students, and apart from that, the show got the nod of Mr. Bolaji Ogunwo, Painting Lecturer, Creative Art Department of the school.
  “One of the laudable feats for the artists is that they didn’t hide under the shadows of academicism to churn out elitist or obscure art that reveals nothing, but an artistic cliché. They communicated in a visual language that was understood across board,” the teacher notes.
 Trained artists from the school, Ogunwo says, have also distinguished themselves in their different areas of specialisation.

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