|Mixed media, Sleeping Beauty, by Lekan Onabanjo
The current exhibition, which also marks two decades of Mrs. Modupe Ogunlesi-led Adam&Eve enterprise, underscores the resilience of creative, entrepreneurial
skill involved in managing such a vast business. Opening on October 15, through December 15, 2017, The Content-Harmattan Edition, features the works of the main artists Francis Uduh, Juliet Ezenwa, Damola Adepoju, Emmanuel Stanley Dudu, Ibe Ananaba, Josh Nmesirionye and Olumide Oresegun.
As the only sculptor in the exhibition, Uduh justifies the essence of including three dimensional works in this gathering of artists. Within a highly contentious Nigerian contemporaneity - particularly in sculpture - Uduh’s wood work of art confirms that there are quite some artists whose works are worth the space given to them in a group exhibition such as this. For Uduh, elongated figures, which derive their beauty and aesthetics from his resplendent application of patterned wood, for example, are seen in such works as ‘Gestation’ (Union) and ‘Introspection’ among others produced in ebony wood. But in a frieze of cold cast titled ‘Divine Joy,’ Uduh flaunts his mastery of sculpture work.
From Ezenwa comes ‘Looking Ahead,’ a twin piece of ladies, rendered in simplified figures, using paper collage on canvas. In addition to the metaphoric interpretation of ‘Looking Ahead,’ the richness in feminine content such as a loosely placed shawl, bracelet and necklace, among other natural embroideries of ladies, simplify the painting.
On roughened canvas, Nmesirionye explores a texture of social narrative with figures that offer viewers a space in collective interpretation of creative expression. Sometimes, the softness of his colour brings a striking balance with the roughened texture of the canvas.
It takes more than splashing of colours on canvas to be an artist, so Adepoju has proven in a career spanning over 18 years. With his subtle monochrome painting, splashed on newsprint collage, Adepoju, strangely, has weathered the storms of a highly conservative Lagos art environment, where ‘brilliant colour’ has mentally endured among top art collectors.
Still on monochrome textured canvas, Dudu, whose work is mostly in unambiguously non-populist colour, brings into The Content - Harmattan Edition creativity in alternative and classic appreciation of art being celebrated in pastel and charcoal pieces on paper. Among the works are ‘Gele Routine,’ a celebration of proudly Nigerian unique female headwear, and ‘Young Supplicant,’ expressed in the value of spirituality.
Ananaba is, arguably, one of the most gifted artists in strong draughtsmanship on canvas. The artist flaunts his assets in the skills of drawing whenever the opportunity arises, particularly when he shows at group exhibitions. It is this richness he brings into The Content in exhibition with works that attempt to redefine contemporary Nigerian art within the context of the artist’s perspective of unfolding new generation of art enthusiasts.
Capturing real time splashes, flow and drips of water on canvas are among the painting strength of Oresegun. For this exhibition, his five works in the show strengthen the artist’s growing signature. Among such paintings are ‘End of Harvest’ and ‘Allow.’
The exhibition respects the season’s mood by sustaining the venue’s yearly event Festival of Carol. “But this time we want to have six lessons, in shorter form for the Carol, which starts on November 12, 2017, as it flags off our Christmas activities,” Ogunlesi says. “Instead of A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carol, as in years past, we plan an adaptation of the shorter version - ‘Carols from Kings’ - to give more time to mingle.”
The curator of the exhibition aspect of the event, Onabanjo explains the theme: “We want to give The Content a generic name, hence the Harmattan Edition, rather than make it in numerical series.”