Wednesday 27 January 2016

Bold Expressions From Young Contemporaries

By Tajudeen Sowo
Dipo Doherty, Logor, Ayobola Kekere-Ekun, Eloghosa Osunde and Yadichinma Ukoha-Kalu come into the New Year on a path towards adding freshness to the Lagos art scene. But the young artists, having thrown their hats in the ring of the highly competitive art scene of Lagos appear burdened to prove the worth of the opportunity lay ahead.

Ayobola Kekere-Ekun’s quiling portraits.

Opening the year's calendar of a relatively new Rele Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos with a group art exhibition titled Young Contemporaries 2016, which ends on January 29, 2016, the artists' works, from all indication suggest that the Nigerian art space, across medium and genres, has new texture to contend with. From Doherty's twisted human figures expressed mostly in drawing, to the monochrome photography of Logor and digitalised, but painterly miniatures by Osunde as well as relief quill sculpture portraits by Kekere-Ekun, Young Contemporaries 2016 radiates aura of appetizers.

 Doherty and Logor are not exactly new to the art scene, having shown either as solo or at group exhibitions before now. Their works represent a window into the current show at Rele as the walls complement the artists’ subtleness texture, but with enough aroma to wet art appreciation appetite.

 Doherty's drawings and paintings, as extraterrestrial being-like as the figural forms are - placed opposite the walls of Logor's captures, which include Lagos that are hardly seen - indeed energises a curatorial mix that confirms the contextuality of the theme.

  Logo’s, works, for examples, show a Third Mainland Bridge taken from low angle, almost at the water level, beneath the 11.8 km long monument; silhouette spectators on pedestrian bridge who view the burning petrol tanker at Ojuelegba, late last year; and un-kept shopping complex at Doyin, along Lagos-Badagry Expressway.

 The works, Logor states are from his series, which he started about three years ago. The depth of his work in 2013, he recalls, had no clear-cut direction, "but now I have found the craft."

  Between mysticism and abstraction, Doherty's work distils scientific elements from creative contents. As complex as the themes of his work appear, the artist insists that the line between art and science is not so thick. "With geometry, I try to bring science and spiritual perspective into drawing," says Doherty during a visit to Rele. 

 Whoever found Dr Olusegun Fayemi's works innovative in digital imaging, would most likely agree that young Osunde's post-lens manipulation thickens the painterly texture of photography. And with her choice of theme in Obalende, a note able traffic and commercial spot in Lagos Island, the images, in colour, rendered with mangled technique give an impression of paintbrush movement, stressing the painterly look of the canvas.

  From the thematic translation of Obalende as 'King Pursued Me Here' to quite a number of other titles, Osunde adds hilarious contents to her artistic expression. Having "started street photography four years ago," Obalende as a subject comes as a natural progression for Osunde. 

  Very fresh on the art scene, Ukoha-Kalu brings simplicity into painting with her miniatures.  Collectively titled All Of The Things, the paintings summarise what the artist describes as the "feel of the environment."

  Kekere-Ekun's relief sculpture of wall pieces, framed in thicker style adds to the growing contemporary concept that are collapsing the line between art and craft. She brings quilling; using waste textile pieces, largely, to express what appears to me as fashion themes.
    Painterly digital photograph Obalende by  Eloghosa Osunde

  Basically, her quilling is profoundly fresh in relief sculpture. Her journey into the unique relief technique, she discloses, started during her final year as student of Fine Art at University of Lagos when "the paints were disobedient." So, she settled for other medium to express colours, producing explicitly great blend of art and craft.

 For Rele, the exhibition confirms "its aim to trigger a newfound appreciation of the arts and help nurture a new generation of visual artists.” The gallery recalls that it has in the past year been observing, collecting and supporting young talents whom it believes have the right balance of potential, work ethic and drive to occupy a new roster of accomplished artists, in the future.

  Last year, Rele opened with My Street Economics and added Lagos Hustle & Hope. The gallery followed it up with Strip, showing the works of painters Ayoola Gbolahan, Ibeabuchi Anababa and Isaac Emokpae as well as photographers Kelechi Amadi-Obi, Reza Bonna, Toyosi Faridah Kekere Ekun and Logor Oluwamuyiwa Adeyemi.

  Joe Amenechi was next in a solo, revisiting traditional art with a blend of ‘natural synthesis’ and flavour of modernism.

  And few months ago, printmaker Tayo Quaye's adventure into painting brought into art space intimate female hygiene, perhaps too bold for a conservative environment.

On Young Contemporaries, Rele writes: “The common thread that runs through this exhibition is youth and potential. In terms of artistic work, each artist was chosen to shine, each had liberty to present a individualistic body of work that did not bend to a group theme. 

  “Each artist possesses a unique voice, eye and message and have created conversational work that addresses urgent, topical issues, showing that contrary to popular opinion, the young (and yes, the artistic ones) show a commitment to engage the space around them and contribute to pressing matters arising…” 

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