Sunday 9 August 2015

Defactori Artists Lift Unbounded Spirit

 By Tajudeen Sowole

Having practised in the Lagos art scene for over 12 years as one of Nigeria's strongest group studios, Defactori, based in Ebute Meta, Lagos Mainland, appears to have found individual strength in a resilient chord of oneness. This is borne out of the aura that radiated through the space during the opening of the group's art exhibition titled Unbounded Spirit, which held recently at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The group started with nine artists, lost a member who left a few years ago, but gained two other new members. For Unbounded Spirit, eight members showed six works each in a gathering that has become a yearly tradition for the group. Awoyemi Ajibade, Ola Balogun, Chika Idu, Akintunde John, Taiwo George-Taylor, Adeladan Adeshina, Damola Adepoju and Anthony Olumide Ayanu were the exhibiting artists. Last year, 10 members of Defactori Studio showed Sensing Spaces at the same venue.

A collage ‘Taxi Junction’ by Damola Adepoju

 "We are here again to show that for over 10 years the spirit keeps us together despite doing different things," coordinator of the show George-Taylor declared during the opening. "Our collection features the sacred energy flowing in the love of nature shared in materials used like watercolour, drawings, colourful acrylic and oil paintings that celebrate new beginnings and growth."
A scantily attended opening had guests viewing collage works by Adepoju and George-Taylor. A further walk through the rooms unfolds artists who are either stepping out of common identity or strengthening it in other styles and techniques. For example, Balogun pulls out his paintings, Family, Unbounded and Play from the traditional canvas surface into a sculpture-like texture. Also stepping out of his regular painting on canvas surface is Ajibade who brings portraitures in mixed media.
However, it is of note that in attempting to bring freshness into their works, some artists are gradually sliding into the craft ladder without knowing it. For Balogun, his new surface looks good and commendable, but he has to be cautious of the banana peels of craft, even though contemporaneity seems to be blurring the lines between art and craft.
As prolific as Adepoju is with his collage of painting and newsprint waste, he seems to have a way of coming up with more exciting works, just before you say 'enough' of these repetitive styles and technique. The artist stressed this much in ‘Spirit of the Day’, ‘Taxi Junction’ and ‘Eko Ile. In fact, ‘Taxi Junction’, with much application of aging technique looks like a streetscape lifted from museum piece, just as ‘Spirit of the Day’ brings a fresh tone to a worn-out path with a sea of Eyo masquerades fading into the vanishing distance.
For George-Taylor, there would always be a new angle to coastline painting, so suggested his work titled ‘Ebute Meta’, a river bank capture that radiates freshness of sorts. Apart from the portrait size, which exudes some kind of effect, the composition in three spaces: dry land, water and sunset appear simple, but project a kind of mastery in coastline painting.
When Idu had his solo art exhibition The Other World at Alexis Galleries a few months ago, he showed some new works that focused mostly on coastal activities, particularly under water actions. At Unbounded Spirit, Idu extended the scope with some works that have young adults in focus.
While flaunting his depth of brush strokes in streetscape, Akintunde brings the quietness of My Street onto the canvas. In a three-angle form, the artist explores a perspective advantage to create an illusion of dimensionality.
Adeshina brings survival of the fittest associated with Lagos street trading onto the canvas in ‘Oose, Ooje (No work, No Food). In a city struggling against defiant roadside traders, erecting a shade or any mini cover is unthinkable, hence the umbrella for the artist's subject. As an art piece, the work brings out the strength of the red colour in pepper and almost in contrast with bright colours of the borrowed market space
Whoever is still in denial that digital imagery and the Internet are changing man's social communication may need to seen ‘Selfie’, a portrait painting by Olumide. A simplified and stylised painting, the portrait stresses the popularity of people's increasing addiction to self-portrait using camera phones.
In the introductory page of the exhibition catalogue, Kehinde Adepegba writes about what he describes as the artists' "visual bond." He argues that the theme of the exhibition confirms the artists' unity.

 "This explicates the fact that the artists are united in spirit but have allowed the same spirit to be limited in individual's artistic manifestation," writes Adepegba, who lectures at Department of Art and Industrial Design, Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu.

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