Saturday 14 July 2012

Imbued Essence… Nigerian Spirit Lights Up London Olympics

By Tajudeen Sowole
 On Sunday, July 15, 2012, another side of Nigerian story will open ahead of the opening of the London 2012 Olympics, via an art exhibition.
  Organised by Bank of Industry (BOI) as part of cultural artistic package to promote Nigeria during the 2012 Olympics, the art exhibition features works of over 35 artists selected across the country.
  The show, titled Imbued Essence, according to the coordinators, Abraham Uyovbisere and Abiodun Olaku ends with the Olympics on August 12, 2012 at G-Live, Guitdford, Surrey.
 The BOI-sponsored exhibition joins other African art and culture activities, under the theme, We Face Forward, currently holding in Manchester throughout the period of the Olympics.  
   Uyovbisere, who is the newly elected President of Guild of Professional Fine Artists of Nigeria (GFA), noted that until lately, Europeans and Americans used to see Nigerian art within naivety and craft context. The art exhibition at the Olympics, he assured would strengthen the awareness for Nigerian art abroad.
 Giving kudos to the Managing Director of BOI, Evelyn Oputu for bringing visual arts as one of the events meant to showcase Nigeria at the Olympics, former Vice President of GFA, Olaku said it could only take someone like Oputu who appreciates creativity to organise what he described as the “first coordinated presentation of Nigerian art at any Olympics.”   
  He noted that though Nigerian art had been showcased in the past Olympics, but at individual level of artists.
  The theme of the show, Olaku explained, “is to tell the world, that though Nigeria has its challenges, but they are not surmountable. He argued that the “true spirit of Nigeria” has not been properly presented in the past, assuring that the BOI-organised show will correct the error.”
 In her statement published on the brochure tagged, Showcasing Nigeria @ the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics Games, Oputu states that the art exhibition and other activities are in line with BOI’s mandate to collaborate with domestic and foreign partners. She explained that the partnership with the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) “is a development-focused joint initiative for a more effective and positive projection of Nigeria at the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics Games, as the world’s most vibrant market.”
  She stressed that the joint venture is part of BOI’s efforts at transforming Nigeria’s economy and integrating it into the global economy, through domestic and international partnerships.
  And that the Olympics is holding in London, she argues, is strategic for Nigeria “in view of the historic ties between Nigeria and Great Britain,” as well as “London’s proximity to Nigeria and the city’s strategic location as the window to the world’s financial capital.”
The Dawn, oil on canvas by Abraham Uyovbisere features in the BOI-sponsored art exhibition.

   On selection of works, Olaku disclosed that “we ensured the best among the works available were selected because it’s important for us to make a strong statement on Nigerian art.”
  And perhaps, quite deliberate, most of the artists on the show are from the middle-generation of contemporary Nigerian art. Some of them are Raqib Bashorun, Olaku, Alex Nwokolo, Uyovbisere, Ben Osaghae, Duke Asidere, Edosa Ogiugo, Kefas Danjuma, Olu Ajayi, Jerry Buhari, Sam Ovraiti, Segun Adejumo, Hamid Ibrahim, Ndidi Dike, Kehinde Sanwo, Sam Ebohon, Adeola Balogun, Gbenga Offo, Lekan Onabanjo, Bunmi Babatunde, Ebong Ekwere, Patrick Agose and Francis Uduh.
  Some of the works viewed via soft copies appear to corroborate Olaku’s assertion that “the best available” were selected.
  For example, work such as a bust by Ekwere titled The Faithful II could compete with the bests in the world, in terms finishing. Same for Nwokolo’s soft metal collage, Social Networking II as well as Olaku’s painting Ancestral Grace. More importantly, each of these works projects different face within the Nigerian spirit of multicultural entity.
  And where western taste could blend with African identity, Uyovbisere’s style of colour renditions takes that mantle as seen in a horse back piece, The Dawn, which stresses the artist’s identity in renaissance-like toning.   
  The BOI-sponsored show adds to the ongoing art and cultural activities of African origin as part of the London 2012 summer games. Last month, about 30 visual artists and musicians from 11 countries in West Africa opened diverse shows under the theme We Face Forward, which is a sub-event of the yearly London Festival. Among the musicians are Femi Kuti and Angelique Kidjo.
   Opened few weeks ago, and running till September 16, 2012, according to reports monitored via the Internet, the show features painting, photography, textiles, sculpture, video and audio installation of 32 artists as well as fashion and music from top artistes of West African descent.
   One of six Nigerian artists participating in the show, Victoria Udondian presents a new textile work at Whitworth Art Gallery’s textile collection.
  The collection, according to the organisers, ranges from textiles made in Manchester for export to the West African market in the eighteenth century, to fabrics by contemporary makers in Mali who supply DKNY with hand-spun cotton.

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