Monday 20 January 2014

For pastel show at 13, six masters return

By Tajudeen Sowole
A reflective aura radiated in the air as six artists gathered for the 13th edition of the yearly Pastel Exhibition, just held at Mydrim Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos.

The show, which is arguably, one of the oldest yearly art event featured Muri Adejimi, Segun Adejumo, Duke Asidere, Sam Ovraiti, Alex Nwokolo and Kehinde Sanwo, who were apparently not among the artists shown in the last six or more editions of the Yearly Patel Exhibition. The six artists were among the participants in the early years of the exhibition.

Tube Tuse (Co-existence) by Muri Adejinmi.

Aimed at promoting the pastel medium among artists, the gathering, in the past few editions have focused on young artists, including old and new entrants.
With the six artists selected for the 13th edition, it’s a comeback for the painters who are masters in their own right, being a bridge between the Nigerian old masters and young generation of artists. At the last edition, works of young artists Kolawole Olojo-Kosoko, Emmanuel Dudu, Ajibade Awoyemi, Joseph Ayelero’ Segun Adesanya, Kehinde Oso, Sam Ajobiewe, Uzoamaka Nnuji, Stanley Dudu, Paul Iroye, Jefferson Jonathan, Okonye Dixon, and Jonathan Ikpoza.were on and were on display as the show stressed the diversity of its scope.

  The show “has firmly established itself as a tradition at Mydrim,” the curator, Sinmidele Ogunsanya states.  “Over the past one decade, it has been exciting organizing 13 editions in as many different ways in order to continue making each exhibition interesting for art enthusiasts.”

And for the vibrancy of the Lagos art landscape, the exhibition was a mixed of classic painting, impressionism, cubism and drawing. In the three works of Adejinmi, his classicist handling of dramatic composite, even marvels.  His works such as Iwa Jo Wa (Birds of the same Feathers) and Omonira (Liberation), typical of the artist, stress the resilience of realism. Not exactly in Adejinmi’s surreal rendition, but Iwa Jo Wa maintains the artist’s identity of composites that are always in motion.

Among his generation of artists down the ladder, Adejinmi is, perhaps, Nigeria’s top artist in the classic and naturalism renditions,, so suggests the energy of theatrics imbedded in his works since he emerged from the revered Abayomi Barber school over three decades ago. Despite proving his worth over and over, excellence, he says is still some brush strokes away. “I am constantly pursuing excellence,” he states. “I believe there is always a room for improvement.”

Ovraiti, whose name is synonymous with fluid medium such as water colour, brings in to the gathering his equal familiarity with the pastel, in fact, in drawings as well as paintings. Two of his seven works, which are of portraiture genre, exude the beauty of drawing in competitive space with subtle painting.

That Other Women by Sam Ovraiti
Quietly impacting on the mentorship and workshop aspects of art activities, Ovraiti brings into the 13 Pastel Exhibition one of his encounters at the yearly Harmattan Workshop in the three-figural portraiture titled Three Agbarha Otor Girls.  Ovraiti was appointed the first director of the over three decades old Agbarha Otor, Delta State-based workshop in 2011. Still on portraiture, the artist’s pastel seems to have fallen in love with the ladies, so suggest another one Olufunilayo, which has features of mixed-race, particularly in the nose and lips.
Being trained as a painter, Ovraiti says, was not enough, so “I am now an artist” who creates art across diverse forms. “I simply allow the art to come alive, taking the part of least resistance.” 

Cubist, Asidee stresses his “simplistic” belief in art. Known for using his work to make burlesque statement on social and political development, Asidere continues to apply the simpleton form in works such as Election Blocks, a strike at lack of transparency; and The Syndrome, a visual narrative of increasing indecent dressings of young ladies on the streets, across the country.

If spontaneity could be detected or proven in a finished work of art, Asidere would wear the garb of ‘spontenous master’or ‘master of spontenous art’. And in simplicity, the cousin of spontaneity, the artist keeps stressing the joy of creating art, almost effortlessly. Art, he argues, “is not as complex as many artists try to make it.”  Asidere explains that he views art from a “a very simplistic point.” and advises: “just get it done.” 

For Adejumo whose palette moves cautiously between realism and impressionism, works such as Wrapper’s Delight, Yomi’s Repose and Road to Panshin exude the artist’s excavating skill. Indeed, composites such as figures laying on bed or wrapping cloth as well as landscape of a path appear ordinary or common. But the artist insists that these renditions are part of his “objectives” to unearth “profound” subjects from “seemingly ordinary things.”

Kehinde Sanwo’s Dance With Me

One of the most experimental artists on the Nigerian art scene of recent, Nwokolo, comes into the pastel show with his Oju (Face) series, which he had presented mostly in collage of painting on canvas. Bringing same with pastel on paper, Nwokolo, interestingly sustains the roughage, but poetic-like surface of the series as seen in one of the works titled In the Lighter Mood.

Even in the monochromatic tone, Nwokolo’s Oju series of the pastel show still offers a sparkling look. Two of his other works include Still Life and a stylized figures of midriff s titled New Generation.

Over two decades or more of Sanwo’s art as architecture documentary artist, largely in impressionism, has, recently, been broken by a technique, in which he combines poster on canvas. Quite a departure from his past works so explains in his pastel presentations such as Blossoms 1, Dance With Me and Fishing Frenzy.    

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