Saturday 28 January 2012


Olaopa’s art of the grassroots


Two decades of Oladele Olaopa-initiative in grassroots art promotion tagged Experience Nigeria has been making relative impacts, quietly.
 The convener, Olaopa, like his project is also a silent man behind the strength of promoting art of the grass roots as its beneficiaries set eyes on masterstroke of tomorrow.
In the past few editions, Experience Nigeria, organized under African Art Resource Centre (AARC), has empowered younger artists through art competitions, workshops and exhibitions.
Town Meeting by Lanke Silas
Also, it has added dynamic in expanding art beyond its regular space when, in the last two editions, the event took art to the golf court in Ikoyi Club 1938 where over 40 artists and golfers shared thoughts over an exhibition.
At 20, Olaopa’s Experience Nigeria has added a blend of young and old artists at a forum aimed at using the established artists help in the task of art awareness at the grass root.
For example in one of the works from the last edition, artist such as Lanke Silas’ stylized of faces titled Town Meeting is quite instructive, particularly, at this period of fuel subsidy removal crisis. One observed that, suddenly the abandoned African tradition of village square gathering suddenly surfaced under the tag, “town hall meeting,’ to resolve the oil subsidy removal crisis. This much is adduced from the work. However, the aesthetic value of Town Meeting is more stronger in a rendition that brings out the beauty of modern nativity.
Olaopa recalls that Experience Nigeria was established in 1991 as an annual art show to promote Nigerian art and provide opportunities for emerging artists to exhibit their works.
The event, he says, has grown since then to include-“art show-an art competition, an awards ceremony and a children’s creative camp.”
In fact the 20th anniversary edition, he explains “engage children-5-12year olds- in creative activities including painting, crafts, greeting card designs, jewelry, hair accessories and others.”
Empowering people in the grassroots, from the Experience Nigeria perspective, he says “also consider the underprivileged during our 20th anniversary as some of the children came from the Little Saints Orphanage while others came from various schools around Lagos.”
With four instructors such as Mope Fasanmi, Jane Omodojo, Al-Marouf Olusegun and Oyetoyan Adetoro the workshop, he notes was richer.
Also, about 25 artists from the past exhibitions “representing various years from 1991 -2011 were in the group show.”
For stronger impact on the younger participants, “U.S.-based painter and lecturer at Bowen University, Moyo Ogundipe offered inspirational session.”
The 20th edition was also about sharing works among the participants. “The best of the paintings were framed and given to the ‘artists’ as part of the experience.”
And in remembrance of late Emmanuel Inua, Olaopa states that one of his works was on display.
In its tradition of giving awards to artists and patrons, a recipient for the 20th anniversary edition is the MD of The Tent Event Ltd.-Mr Sholeye Hughes as Sponsor Of The Decade Award “for consistent support over the past decade. He expressed satisfaction at the progress of the show and promised to do even more in future.”
If the event has been so active, why is the seeming quietness on the surface? Olaopa agrees that the past 20 years have been event full, but the challenges, he discloses, is lack of adequate support. “Lack of sponsors cause despair of artists, even though the enthusiasm among the artists has kept us going.”

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