Thursday 28 June 2018

Breeding Future Contemporary Masters From 'Generations' series

'Tender Anticipation (Expectation series,
22 x 28 Inches Oil on textured canvas 2018), by Raji Mohamed.

When artists who are below mid-career, or few years post-training, gaze into the future with mastery of art mentality, the pressure of creating faultless contents is higher. Emeka Nwagbara, Chinedu Uzoma, Damilola Opedun, Ezekiel Osifeso, Olajide Salako, Olufemi Oyewole, Oluwafunke Oladimeji, Segun Fagorusi and Raji Mohamed are artists, supposedly, with future mastery of the pallete.

Again, most of the artists have been selected to show at Generations - Future Masters-2', a series that debuted last year and opening June 30, 2018 at Mydrim Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos. The gallery's taste for mastery of art is not a recent development; in 2007, it showed exhibition titled Living Masters. And just few weeks ago, the Gallery has 12 modern and contemporary artists showed as The Masters.

Mentored or inspired by some well-known contemporary Nigerian masters, the 'future masters' are artists whose canvas unambigously emit traditional or modernism forms. Either in figural or streetscape representation, the exhibiting artists' rendition in hue or brush movements suggest a rich Lagos art space beyond the modern and contemporary masters that the city's connoisseurs are familiar with.

More importantly, the battle for the soul of contemporary art is being broaden, considering the fact that the exhibiting artists belong to a generation split between fine art and 'conceptual' form of of expressions such as installation and performance art. However, the artists are well focused; not interested in the politics of contemporary art contents. "I think we should just do our art and leave writers with the categorisation", Nwagbara who is one of the artists trained at Universal Studios of Art, said.

The texture of the exhibiting artists reflect the diversity and dynamics of Nigerian art space with mix of formally and informally trained artists. The Universal Studios at National Theatre, Igannu, Lagos is the place of convergence for such a mix.

Perhaps the starting point in getting to know the mental readiness of the artists is their understanding of mastery of art. "As a young artist, I believe mastery of art is the ability of the artist to start from the known to the unknown", Fagorusi told select preview guests.

Being among the oldest art galleries in Lagos, Mydrim has the resilience to accommodate art across tastes and genres. "It is not just about the process of creating art, but always the content", curator at Mydrim, Hannah Oghene assured. "What makes masters is the experience , and we are creating platform for these artists to have series of exhibitions from last year".

Uzoma, whose career started with six years of informal training at Universal before his Lagos State Polytechnic ( LASPOTECH) education exudes the ideal experience on the journey of mastery of art. "During my six years at Universal Studios, I never painted," Uzoma said. His concentration on drawing, he recalled, was for inability to afford painting materials. He actually made his first painting after two years at LASPOTECH.

From hyper realism texture of Mohammed, which captures figures in domestic activities, to Oyewole's landscape, traces and shadows of some contemporary Nigerian masters are visible in quite a number of the young exhibiting artists' works. Specifically, familiar brushstrokes of artists such as Abiodun Olaku and Ebenezer Akinola emit on the canvas of Mohammed and Oyewole, respectively.
A Streetscape painting by Segun Fagorusi
Graduated at Auchi Polytechnic in 2010, Damilola is an artist whose painting skill is complemented by his choice of theme. "I paint familiar subject that concern out souls as human beings". Among such works are 'Man Made' about what God has for mankind and 'Maternal' talks about longevity and inspirations from my mother.

Founder of Mydrim, Mrs Sinmidele Adesanya was worried that the content of art is changing from proper value to some kind of dangerous trend that might affect quality. For this reason, Mydrim, she explained, started the intervention effort with Generations - Future Masters series to give young artists platform to keep "foundational value" alive in art appreciation.
"We have over the past twenty five years, organized exhibitions aimed at reviving sound art practice based on firm foundational principles of observation, creativity, skill and draughtsmanship", she argued in the Gallery Statement. "In recent times there has been a trend in the visual art circles for the promotion of art that does not place any particular emphasis on the foundational principles of art enumerated above".

She however lamented that such forms of artworks that lack the values explained above "have received publicity through social media and other aggressive promotion platforms". Adesanya warned; "Although this form may gather momentum and become established over time, it will be a disservice to place more value, economic and otherwise on this than the work of deeply talented artists. The danger in allowing this to happen will be an eventual lowering of standards".
 - Tajudeen Sowole.

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