Sunday 24 December 2017

From Lagos to Madrid, Four Artists in ‘Residency Exchange’

Works of art during the Open Studio organised for the Residency Lagos
The essence of artist residency in strengthening creative enterprise and as crucial feeds to mainstream art outlets was emphasised during the Open Studio of four artists in Lagos.
 Organised by a not-for-profit, Arthouse Foundation, the Open Studio, which held at the organisation’s Ikoyi office featured Nigerian, Spanish and South African artists whose works were produced at El Ranchito Residency, Spain. Held during 

the peak of last Lagos’  art season, the event added to the international flavour of the city’s art landscape.
 Taiye Idahor, Gloria Oyarzabal Lodge, Jimmny Nwanne and Obinna Makata are the artists whose projects were the products of a partnership between Arthouse Foundation and Matadero Madrid, Spain in the form of what the joint venture describe as ‘Residency Exchange.’
 With U.S-based Victor Ekpuk, in 2015, Arthouse Foundation kick started its residency events. Last year, it also had Jelili Atiku, Olumide Onadipe, Dipo Doherty and Tina Adebowale on its local residency. But the Arthouse-Matadero  partnership lifted Lagos art residency scene to a higher ground with exchange that involved new insights for the artists, particularly, working in unfamiliar cultural environments.
 The Arthouse Foundation-Matadero Madrid Artist Residency Exchange supported by The African Arts Trust and the Embassy of Spain.
 During the Open Studio in Lagos which had visitors from across continental and cultural divides, works and talks from the artists confirmed the experimental essence of the project, particularly of Residency Exchange value.
 For example, Idahor, who had been working on human hair as a central thematic focus on identity issue before the residency takes her experimental content into a fresh space with drawing in ink. Hair as an identity in racial divides of natural human features is also personal to the artist’s family history.
 Recall that Idahor’s maiden solo titled Hairvolution, shown at Whitespace, Ikoyi, in 2014 in which she used collage to depict hair of all shades, brought a fresh perspectives in simplistic sculptural expression onto the Lagos art space. Generally, her work involves collage, sculpture, installation and drawing.
 For Makata, who applies mixed media in off-cuts of ‘ankara’ fabrics to also treats identity issue, the Arthouse-Matadero Residency brings the artist’s narrative into another realm. His work, with new materials - still in mixed media - exposes a contemporary world engulfed in packaging race against the speed of economic drive in capitalism. A curatorial note of Arthouse Foundation describes the artist’s pre-residency work in using fabric “as a metaphor to explore cultural identity and  evolving social values in Nigeria.”  But moving into international space of Residency Exchange,  Arthouse notes that “Makata experiments with new types of found materials, looking at product packaging and its significance in a global economy.”
 Though still in residency at the time of the Open Studio event, Oyarzabal Lodge, a Spanish photo-artist with passion for cinematography explores the representation of women in historical archives.
 Also still in residency as at the time of the Open Studio, Nwanne, who had a brief talk with guests during the event said his work mixes uncommon contents to coalesce with some known icons in his paintings. The combination, at the end of his residency, would  produce what could be a fresh experiment gained during the exchange.
 “Combining elements of abstraction and realism, Nwanne creates unusual textures and colour combinations that speak to the social and political issues of a globalised world,” Arthouse says in its curatorial statement.
Born in Kaduna, Nigeria in 1989, Nwanne is based in Kaiserslautern, Germanyn
 As a non-profit artist residency programme, The Arthouse Foundation says, it aims to encourage the creative development of contemporary art in Nigeria. “We offer live/work residencies in Lagos for artists throughout the year in three-month sessions, as well as facilitates international exchanges with international art organizations.”

-Tajudeen Sowole

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