Sunday 22 July 2012

(Dis)placement … red alert on megacity

 AS Lagos megacity comes with its mixed blessings, two artists, Alimi Adewale and Richardson Ovbiebo, take a deep look into the rapid changes going on in the state.

Expressing their thoughts in a show themed, (Dis)placement held at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos, the artist rekindled discourse on urban renewal, drawing attention to human displacement and placement as some of the effects having a megacity. 
Alimi Adewale’s painting Around Lagos in Ten Days.

  It’s quite interesting that the two artists implore the central medium of visual communications, painting and metal sculpture, in which each, respectively, has established proficiency, to express their thoughts.  

Adewale notes, “the divided opinion of the people on the good and the bad sides of a megacity Lagos.”

As a concept, the theme, according to Ovbiebo was inspired by his visit to Cameroun for an art workshop. Nationality and geographical issues, he said, which informed the theme of the workshop, made him adapt similar theme for Lagos to showcase how megacity is displacing a lot of people.

As if sampling the opinion of one of his guests, Adewale asks: “Is the fast changing face of Lagos really of benefits to the people?”

The answer to this question may be deduced from his works and Ovbiebo’s. Animatedly, the painter takes his passion higher in a series of 10, titled, Around Lagos in Ten Days. Maybe it is a coincidence or the timing of the show; as almost all the supposedly works painted in his tour of the state appear to have been canvassed during the rain. Enhanced by the artist’s core impressionism form, the Day 6 and 7, though seem odd, bring serenity and cleaner ambience of the beach captures, making the other eight works the ugly side of Lagos, which is well known, especially during the rainy season.
ADEWALE must have either interacted with people, in the course of his Plein air or sourced information through the media. On the displacement effect of a Lagos megacity, he says, “some people, for example, argue that the Eko Atlantic project of the Lagos State Government is the cause of flood experienced by residents whose houses are close to the site.”

Such argument, right or wrong seems to have left out the well-known fact that flooding, in the last few years, is not only peculiar to Lagos, but also experienced in other parts of the country and has been traced to global warming. Lack of information, which gives room to suspicion, indeed, exposes government’s information and enlightenment inadequacy, particularly on the Lagos megacity project.

Richardson Ovbiebo’s metal We All Following Shadows… Like Shadows, They Don’t Know Where To Go.
 For Ovbiebo, his emphasis is on the two sides of urban renewal, noting the displacement and placement benefits of a megacity.” Either way, he warns in the series of work titled, We All Following Shadows… Like shadows, They Don’t Know Where To Go. It is not just a poetic rhetoric, but a scary warning, so suggests the composites of the identical works, in which the metal is placed against the mixed media of paints and steel.

And from his last solo show comes two works, Without Borders series, which he thinks fits into the theme of the two-man show.
 As thoughtful as (Dis)placement is, it is still within the self-confinement of most Nigerian artists’ behaviour of being short of a definite position. What exactly is Adewale and Ovbiebo are afraid of? Taking a clear position “is unnecessary; there is always double edge to every situation,” the metal artist argues.  

Adewale started his art career 15 years ago under the master expressionist, painter Kamoru Sarumi, now based in the Caymans Island.

Ovbiebo was the first prizewinner (sculpture), African Artist Foundation (AAF)-organised National Art competition; Nigeria the Future I see, (2009).

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