Saturday 15 November 2014

In Fate, five artists set sight on mainstream art market

By Tajudeen Sowole
 As masterly signatures, by the tradition of visual arts, reign in perpetuity, leaving others to struggle for recognition, five up-and-coming artists are setting out under a common representation.

The artists’ common platform, surprisingly is a representation by one of the new art outlets, Alexis Galleries, Victoria Island, Lagos. The artists, Tyna Adebowale, Darlington Chukwumwzie, Henry Akhile, Raji Mohammed and Yemi Uthman are among a new generation of Nigerian artists who, recently, are being represented by Lagos-based art galleries. Recall that artists’ representation in the Nigerian art circle has been mystified as a complex terrain that galleries always avoid.

One of the works, Sisters, by Adeyemi Uthman, showing in Fate at Alexis Galleries
For Alexis and the five artists, a group art exhibition titled Fate, which opens tomorrow at the gallery, ending November 22, 2014 is a starting point. Artist and co-curator at Alexis Galleries, George Edozie disclosed that the artists are not just being represented in Nigeria, the target “is to also show them abroad.” Patti Chidiac, the curator explained the significance of the exhibition, stating, “Fate has brought the artists together in their search for success.”

Adebowale, whose technique looks like pointillism focuses on themes that are mainly gender based. In one of the works titled Ritual, the artist, makes a realism capture of a woman in makeover and dressing up exercise that say so much about her interest in the theme. For example, the highlighting the importance of the accessories such as necklace in a loud colour sharply contrasts the moonlighting blue tone of the body.

 “The female body is a major influence in my art, touching issues of identity, beauty, gender, sexuality,” stated Adebowle, a graduate of Painting, Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo State.

Chukwumwzie, a self-thought artist prided his skill in what he described as “a true heart for abstraction, impressionism, graffiti, installation, recycle art and cubism.” But for the Fate gathering, the artist’s works are paintings, some of which are rendered in resplendence of colour mixes. Such works include My Art My Tools, a depiction of studio tools and The other side of Midnight, a deadly night scene.

For Uthman who studied Fine and Applied Art at The Institute of Art and Design (ITTAD), Lagos and graduated in 1998, he has over one decade of experience to rely on. This much shows in his choice of theme, focusing the riverside habitation in Lagos.

The theme of the exhibition, he said, reminds him of the people who live at the bank of the rivers in Lagos. “The theme Fate applies to the subject of my works, which is about people living on water.” Uthman disclosed that he has been very close to some of the people who are “either friends or relations.” Some of his works such as Ebute, Leyin Ise Ojoo and Live and Bred on Water indeed expose an artist whose palette has matured and ready for the masterly journey.

With rendition in impressionism in works such as Pathway, Bus Stop Series and Fatima, among others, Akhile expresses his passion for what he described as “influenced by the ever changing landscape of the developing topography of my Nigerian urban/cultural environment and scene.” The artist who grew up in Auchi and got inspiration from the town’s sea of rustic rooftops explained how he was wowed when he came to Lagos. “I came to Lagos in 2007 and got more art inspiration from the old Oshodi scene of bus stops before Governor Fashola cleared the roads.”

And as contemporary art keeps changing the face of creating art, Akhile appears more consistent aligning with the nineteenth century art movement. “Evolving from the style and textures of the impressionists movement, I have been able to create and achieve my own trend and style of painting, using such medium as acrylic or oil paints on canvas.”

Mohammed is the only portrait artist in the Fate gathering as he renders portraitures, mostly of young adults and kids. Whoever is a fanof painter, Ebenezer of Akinola’s texture of the canvas may just like Mohammed’s style as well. However, Mohammed’s deeper application of the earth colours in The Young prince series and Sisters makes the difference.

Alexis Galleries, according to Chidiac was not unaware of the complex surface of representing artists in Nigeria. “Yes, we know the difficulty of representing artists. But we want to sanitise the art market by truly representing the artists and get the right value for their works.” She relied on the regular sponsors such as Leventis, Litho-Chrome, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Cool TV, Wazobia TV, Cool Fm, Nig Info Lagos, Wazobia Fm, Arra Wines, The Avenue Suites, Nova Internet Solutions, Chocolat Royal, The Homestores and Art Café to ensure that “young artists are truly represented without necessarily signing out their lives in a contract.”

The interest of the artists, Edozie assured, cannot be better protected having someone like him in the Alexis Galleries team, who himself an artist “that has gone through the difficult stages of being established.”

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