Sunday 23 August 2015

Faces and Phases of emerging change in Lagos art

By Tajudeen Sowole

The tone and texture of Lagos art landscape, which has remained stuck to its traditional and conservative style, appears to be giving way to more diverse direction in recent years. Interestingly, additional fresh direction is coming this time around from young artists, so suggests the works at Faces and Phases, a group art exhibition led by Adeodunfa, currently showing at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos.
One of the workRaces of Life’ by Hakim Ijadunola
The exhibition has come to stay as a series, so it seems, coming almost one year after Adeodunfa led a group of young artists in a debut of the same title. On this slightly wet Saturday afternoon, the opening of the 2015 exhibition had a mix of art collectors and other enthusiasts trickling into the gallery space at Terra Kulture. The turn out was like what one usually saw at the gathering of established artists or masters. Apart from Adeodunfa, nearly all the nine other exhibiting artists are up-and-coming artists who have not had major solo exhibitions.

Whatever induced the turn out would have to be really good. A life-size floor sculpture, mounted almost in the middle of the immediate room of the gallery, appears imposing, despite the dominating numerical strength of paintings. But creating a sort of balance is a wall mounting of another sculptural piece at the far side of the same room. Coincidentally, the two ‘star’ works at the welcome room of the gallery come from one artist, Olumide Onadipe.

Onadipe represents the signs of new energy coming out of young artists in Lagos. In fact, at Faces and Phases 2015, nearly all the works of the exhibiting artists exude the new energy. Perhaps, the central focus of the gathering is a new tone and texture, so suggest Adeodunfa's works of mixed media assemblage of tablespoons and forks. As much as paintings dominate the gathering in the works of Kehinde Oso, Chinedu Uzoma, Lateef Olajumoke, Habbeb Andu, Titus Osikoya and Adekunle Omofemi, the wall sculptural pieces by Hakim Ijadunola, Adeodunfa and Onadipe thicken the creative texture of the works.
 "The concept of Faces and Phases is all about working with young artists," Adeodunfa states during a chat at the opening. Apart from him, Oso and Onadipe were the only artists from the first show of last year.

 Bringing the technique of pointillism into relief space, Ijadunola, painstakingly applies pieces of cane, cut in dot sizes and lined up in a painterly rendition on board. For example, in ‘Races of Life,’ a depiction of running horses, the natural but brownish feel of wood is replicated almost perfectly by the artist in his use of different hues or shades.
In paintings come the monochromatic skills of Andu and Uzoma, classic representation by Omofemi and Osikoya and assemblage of retrospection from Oso, including a small version of his auction record sale, ‘I Can’. Recall that Oso made a surprise sale with the work that depicts a child’s learning process at one of Arthouse's auctions in Lagos a few years ago.
In gathering stainless spoons to create three identical design-like  pieces of sculptural forms, Adeodunfa brings a sharp deviation from paintings of canvas, which he has done for over a decade. "It is part of my experimentation into new medium," he explained.
But Olajumoke, in contrast, thinks differently, as he displays the boldest of colours on canvas at the gathering with works in full frame. Figural in themes, Olajumoke's paintings throw multi-coloured images at you without little or no space to assimilate the environs of the captures. Rightly or not, his style of filling the frame with bold figures could be a strength in his style of communication via art.
For Onadipe, whose wall sculptural pieces, ‘Lean on Me’ and ‘Map of Identities’ appear like moulds from Nnenna Okore's studio, the similarity between the works of the two artists is, perhaps, mere coincidence. Onadipe explains how “I was inspired by many situations, images over the years such that producing these works is a subconscious effort, not particularly linked to Okore or any person." A few months ago, he showed ‘Map of Identity’ in a solo titled Twist and Twirl at Pan Atlantic University, Ajah, Lagos.
As the momentum of Faces and Phases rises, there comes a window to put the gathering on the global view as, coincidentally, a CNN crew, courtesy of Prince Yemisi Shyllon came visiting. Terra Kulture, according to Shyllon, was being used as part of content for a documentary on him. Among the beneficiaries of the impromptu visit was Onadipe whose work was a focus, and perhaps the centre of attraction.  

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