Saturday 7 January 2012


Young pastel artists shine without the masters
 By Tajudeen Sowole
 THE yearly exhibition of pastel artists opened last week celebrating artistic delivery of young artists.

  Being held at its traditional venue, Mydrim Gallery, Ikoyi Lagos, the show remains open till the end of January 2012. Tagged: 11th Pastel Annual Exhibition, it is a mixture of new and familiar themes.

  One new entrant into the yearly pastel show Bede Umeh joined the regulars such as Abass Kelani, Ade Odunfa, Ajibade Awoyemi,  Chidinma Ochu, Emmanuel Dudu, Jonathan Jefferson, Joseph Ayelero, Kolawole Olojo-Kosoko, Kehinde Osho, Moses Oghagbon, Osagie Aimufia, Samuel Ajobiewe and Stanley Dudu.
Ajibade Awoyemi’s Dream

Last year, works of 47 artists out of 59 that had participated in the last 10 editions of the project featured at the 10th Annual Pastel Exhibition. The list included masters such as Kolade Oshinowo; draughtsman extraordinaire Edosa Ogiugo; Duke Asidere; Ebong Ekwere; Alex Nwokolo; Segun Adejumo and some of the young artists participating in the on-going show.
      Every year, the pastel gathering appeared to have instilled more confidence in artists, despite the widely perceived fragility of pastel as well as what some artists describe as its inflexibility, which makes the medium less popular.

   Also, the Mydrim Gallery-organised exhibitions have bridged generational barriers as old, master, young, and even the up-and-coming artists have exhibited together in the past editions. The show came into being in September 2001 and the maiden edition was tagged Velvety Dreams.

  However, the current edition is an all-young-artists affair. And indeed, these artists proved that they have what it takes to keep the pastel spirit alive, with or without the masters.

 In Osho’s largely child rendition, a consistency that gives vibrant bite to repetitive theme is noticed. This much he explores in Strength Within, To the Left, to the Right series and Good Friends. In fact, Strength Within reminds one of the surprise sale at ArtHouse Contemporary’s seventh auction when the artist’s similar work, Yes I Can shot up in value, beyond expectation.

  And with Habit, he makes a shift from the cradle to the old age as a supposedly retiree sticks to the passion of reading in a reclining chair. 

  Streetscape artist and one of the regular features of the show, Olojo extends his tool and theme to non-human living beings as well as inanimate objects in Bi Ogiri Olanu and Concave & Convex.

  Kelani who made a sharp turn in his last solo show, Man and Machine revisits his skill in figural renditions in such works as Mai Suya series, Musa and Wise Women.

  Indeed, newcomer Umeh labours effortlessly to impress the pastel family. One of his works, Water Maiden (2011), a realism, which radiates spirituality and myth ranks among the works on display that tastefully blends aesthetics and thematic attractions.

   Though in largely human representational, one of Nigeria’s emerging naturalists, Samuel Ajobiewe steps up his strength in the market scene, I Look Forward, portraiture, Out of Shadows and Care Giver.

For Stanley Dudu, an impressionistic piece Commercial Avenue appears like some classic from the old masters of the Renaissance.     

Curator of Mydrim Gallery, Sinmidele Ogunsanya commended the artists Lanre Ayoade and Ola Bishi for the idea of a yearly pastel show.

  She noted: “We are proud to say that we have organised and fully sponsored all eleven pastel exhibitions to date. The vision of the two gentlemen that pastel becomes a more popular medium among Nigerian artists has been realised as more and more artists are choosing to work in this medium.”

 However, the second edition of the yearly show, tagged Highlights in 2002 is believed to be the largest gathering of all the eleven editions.

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