Beyond Imagination of masters
BY TAJUDEEN SOWOLE
THREE years after the Living Masters show in Lagos Thought Pyramid Art Gallery, Wuse II, Abuja, recently hosted a similar event
Titled, Beyond Imagination, the show featured the works of masters such as Ben Enwonwu, Ben Osawe, Erhabor Emokpae, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Okpu Eze, Rufus Ogundele, Muraina Oyelami, Jimoh Buraimoh, Abayomi Barber, David Dale, Kolade Oshinowo, Bisi Fakeye and Taiwo Olaniyi (Twin Seven-Seven). Except at art auctions, it’s very rare to see the works of these artists at a single gathering.
Meeting of elders by Jimoh Buraimoh
In 2008, five of these artists, including the late Isiaka Osunde, were the Living Masters of the classic show organised by Mydrim Gallery and supported by GTB Bank. It was held at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Fakeye’s Sacrifice, Jimoh Buraimo’s stylized figural mixed media, Meeting of Elders and Togetherness by Bruce Onobrakpeya were on; emphasis was placed on this generation of artists whose creative ingenuity sew the seeds of a virile art tradition in the country. Eze’s 1968 piece titled Ajala, also speaks volume of the artists’ skills.
Oyelami’s Hope (2001) — a vibration of the Osogbo identity in the artist’s distressed canvas — reminds one of high expectations of Nigerians after democracy in 1999.
The theme of politics also resonate in Animal In Political Conference by Twin Seven Seven and Ogundele’s In the Midst of Plenty (1988).
For a gathering of this kind to have held in the FCT, where the art climate is not as vibrant as Lagos is an indication that the organisers of the show are up to something.
THE curator, Jef Ajueshi stated that the show was important as it gave the growing art enthusiasts in Abuja a feel of these masters. Ajueshi noted, “we can never have enough of the masters’ diverse works. They are bound to arouse our emotions — beyond our imagination.”
Ajueshi argued that the works are better appraised beyond the imagination of the masters. And as suspicion keeps trailing the originality and provenance of some of these works, Ajueshi assures that in Beyond Imagination works on display are painstakingly sourced by the gallery for the public.
Promoting such works, he said, was a priority for the gallery, as the show came as a sequel to the exhibition Generational Statement organised to commemorate Nigeria’s 50th independence anniversary.
About 40 artists whose works dwell on the story of Nigeria, from different perspectives showed at the event last year.
For Beyond Imagination, “it’s paying homage to the masters of Nigerian visual arts,” Ajueshi said.
The show, he explains was created to explore the rich creative archives of Nigeria’s masters whose collective artistic efforts underscore the competence, rich creativity and deep imagination of the first and second generations of Nigerian visual artists.”
AND that Beyond Imagination came after the gallery showed veteran photographer, Tam Fiofori’s 1979, A Peep into History and Culture stressed Ajueshi’s focus on promoting the works of masters.
Passion for the masters must have been a focus of Thought Pyramid, as it is poised to be a major promoter of the works of the late Ben Osawe, who died in 2007, the same year the gallery made its entry in Abuja.
The gallery’s penchant for big names in art, perhaps, has a link to the origin of its name. In 2007, Ajueshi disclosed that it’s named after the ideals of one of Nigeria’s political icon, Mallam Aminu Kano.