By Tajudeen Sowole
Over 10 years after a lone range mission to rescue pastel, Mydrim Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos, appears to have strengthened artists’ interests in the delicate medium.
Pastel is one of the endangered media hardly used by artists in Nigeria’s visual art scene because of what is widely perceived as its non-flexibility.
In insisting on promoting pastel, Mydrim is currently having its 12th show, which opened a week ago and will end on December 29, 2012. 15 artists are involved. Some of the works on display both from the regular and new entrants revealed that, indeed, the fragile perception of pastel among artists is relative.
Curator of the gallery, Sinmidele Ogunsanya started the yearly Pastel Exhibition in 2001 with a show titled Velvety Dreams, and has exhibited artists across generations. Ogunsanya recalled how two artists Lanre Ayoade and Ola Bishi came up with the idea of yearly pastel show.
12 editions down the lane, Ogunsanya is elated that despite no sponsors the gallery has consistently kept the pastel shows alive.
Last year, perhaps for the first time, the show held without any of the masters seen in the previous editions. Although the 2012 edition appeared to have continued in the same tone, the artists are stronger, so suggest the textures of the works on display.
This much was seen in Ajibade Awoyemi’s Charge, a two-some polo players; Kolawole Olojo-Kosoko’s Message in transit and familiar landscape themes Life Around Us; Emmanuel Dudu’s Emerging market and Humble Beginning; Joseph Ayelero’s Aminat, a portrait revealing innocence of fragile beauty.
Segun Adesanya’s Somewhere in Lagos may appear like one of those “repetitive themes” some critics of Nigerian art say they are tired of seeing, but the artist’s skill in depth and aerial view brings to attention a community whose shelter, clearly shanties, could be mowed down as another illegal structures.
Clingling on to his child theme, Kehinde Oso presents Seeker, a night depiction of a search in the dark. With a blend of high and low-key lighting, the artist retains the youthful characteristics of the figure. Last year Oso showed pieces such as Strength Within, To the Left, to the Right series and Good Friends.
At the Pastel Show 2011, it was an all-young artists’ affair. And the artists proved that without the masters, the pastel spirit could go on.
Other artists featured in the 2012 show included Sam Ajobiewe, Uzoamaka Nnuji, Stanley Dudu, Paul Iroye, Jefferson Jonathan, Okonye Dixon, Awoyemi Ajibade and Jonathan Ikpoza.
Up till the last two editions, masters such as Kolade Oshinowo, Edosa Ogiugo; Duke Asidere, Ebong Ekwere, Alex Nwokolo and Segun Adejumo participated with some young artists. This much, the gallery argued, was designed “to bridge generational barriers as old, master, young, and even up-and-coming artists have exhibited together in the past editions.”
Over the years some of the artists disclosed how featuring in the show had instilled more confidence in their works despite the widely perceived fragility of pastel. Some visual artists argue that pastel has an age-long “inflexibility, which makes the medium less popular”.