Monday 7 January 2013

From studio to shopping mall… Omolayo removes the Veil

BASED on the partnership between organisers of a show holding at the City Mall Art Exhibition Hall, Onikan, Lagos Shopping Complex, and the artists on parade, a concerted effort is being made to up the ante of art appreciation and education in the country.
   An initiative of Biodun Omolayo Gallery, with the support of the management of City Mall, the new art space opened recently with the show titled, Removing The Veil, currently showing till next week. It brings new and familiar artists under one roof.
  Though the theme of the show appears tailored to the opening, it, however, speaks more on a new frontiers: luring different sections of the economy into art appreciation.
   Omolayo, who has been promoting art through his gallery inside the National Museum, Onikan complex, notes that as shopping malls are becoming more attractive to people, art must be part of that excitement.
Inside the City Mall Art Exhibition Hall, Onikan, Lagos
   On this mission with Omolayo are painters and sculptors selected across genres, but almost of the same generation.
   With 20 sculptures and 47 paintings from artists such as Adeola Balogun, Olotu Oyerinde, Veronica Ekpei, Bede Umeh, Soji Yoloye, Kehinde Oso, Juliet Ezenwa Maja-Pearse, Abdulrasaq Ahmed, Joseph Ezeh, Francis Denedo, Adulkareem Fatai, Christopher Alkali and Matthew Adedoyin, the show, indeed, provides the right mix and values needed in such a venture aimed at courting new patrons.
   Olotu’s monochrome (documentary paintings), Balogun’s metal and mixed media (depiction currently exploring wild life), as well as Ekpei’s wood carving and Maja-Pearse’s shrine-like installation, all bring different perspectives to what the new patron will like to see in the new year.
   As an emerging name such as Oso raves in his familiar themes on children, a fresh name such as Ahmed, whose work is mostly in mixed media of painting and old newspaper cut outs, announces his arrival as a new artist to watch.
   Ahmed’s strokes and his intellectual depth take you into a deeper aesthetic realm, subtly boosted by conservative application of light and shades.
BUT the question is, with the increasing challenge of inadequate art exhibition space in Lagos and higher cost of promoting new talents as well as supporting older names for stronger visibility, what exactly is the City Mall Art Exhibition Hall bringing onto the table for the much expected change that would relief artists of financial and other logistics cost?
   It’s a broader support for artists beyond what is currently available in most art galleries, Omolayo explains.
   He says the City Mall art hall would like to help artists take care of most areas that burden them during preparation for shows, so that “the artists can concentrate more on their studio works.”
  He reveals that aside from the regular art shows, the venue would also serve as studios, particularly for informal art education or vocation. Though Omolayo’s well known youth programme, Young at Art is expected to be a regular feature of the new venue, he notes, “the City Mall Exhibition and art studio offer visitors to the shopping mall opportunity to leave their young ones with the studio for exposure to the world of creativity.” 
  During the opening, the support appeared to have started so soon as some top patrons of the Lagos art scene came in to join in Removing the Veil. They included Omooba Yemisi Shyllon of OYASAF; Mr. Sammy Olagbaju, Chairman, Visual Art Society of Nigeria (VASON); Engr.& Mrs. C A Aladewolu, Chairman, TECO Group; Pastor Seyi Oladimeli (C.E.O of Church Management Consult) and hip-hop artist, Zaki Adzee.
  One of the other art-related activities and initiatives of Omolayo expected to be regular feature is Sweet Art, a workshop designed for women.

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