Tuesday 19 June 2018

Moulding 'Beyond Functions' from Nathalie, Arinze

(Glazed Clay 23.5”/17.5” 2018), by Djakou Kassi Nathalie.

Ato Arinze and Djakou Kassi Nathalie, in this exhibition, are inspired by the desire to project ceramics as a genre of art that is not limited to functionality. Limiting ceramics to functionality reduces its value and commodifies it, hence the theme, Beyond Functions.

Its maiden edition was held in 2016 where the two artists exhibited works of art that are conceptual and engaging. This second edition is a step ahead of the initial edition as it offers a bold and courageous approach to subject matters and style.
Ato's oeuvre offers a trajectory into the rumbles and chaos of the society. He is deeply concerned by the agony and hardship that the people experience occasionally and positions himself as a social commentator who participates in public comments through conceptual art. In Bullet holes and bullet wounds, the artist presents a commentary on the recent killings in the country by Fulani Herdsmen who attacks villages and settlements at will.

Africa Series offers a call to action to all Africans. The continent will account for more than half of the global population growth in the next few years and Africa is not prepared for this tremendous growth. How will it be prepared when the young continent is ruled by old people? The bold text that reads "Awake" in the series is the artist's call to Africans to take up the responsibility of transforming, shaping and growing the continent significantly for the benefit of future generations.
With allusive and humorous titles, Djakou Kassi Nathalie confronts her spectators with guilt- ridden contents and daily happenings. Facial expressions presents a horror vaccui on the body of her works and attest to a spontaneous play of lines and shapes that has been mastered over time. In Depression, Nathalie engages the curiosity of the spectator with personal imprisonment. She delineate a man with his head buried between his knee in a sitting position. Bits of circular shapes in repetitive pattern creates translucency and encloses the work in a spherical form.


"We are out of jail or in jail because of our actions" was her response in a brisk conversation. Humorous titles like Guests, Hesitation, and Wonders shall never end offers a peep into human reactions to daily happenings. Both artists employ forms in the service of their ideas and explore elements of art as metaphors for representing situations.

Ato's colours are reminiscent of the current situation in the country- red for the constant killings and gray for mourning. He also employs a wobbled form to delineate the political instability in the country. Nathalie's facial expressions made with lines and shapes texturizes her works and addresses man as the prime mover of all activities. Ceramic as an art form is mostly known for its functionality but these artists are changing the narrative with the contents and forms of their works and they are set to bridge the gap between fine art and applied art.
-Mathew B. Oyedele  (Artist/Art Historian and Founder: artsdiscourse.blogspot.com).

'Seed of Love II'
(Fired Clay, Painted, H.56cm W.34cm D.34cm, 2018) by Ato Arinze.
Opened on June 9 and showing till 24, 2018, at Quintessence Gallery, Parkview, Ikoyi, Lagos, 'Beyond Functons II' is the artists' second joint show in Lagos.

Djakou Kassi Nathalie is a Camerounian-born ceramic artist with over twenty years experience in studio practice. She is a versatile artist who has worked across diverse media. In 1998, she taught art and developed the curriculum for the Technology of Ceramics as a course at the ‘Institut de formation artistique’ in Cameroun. She co- directed the Yoko Church and the Shrine of the Yaounde capital mosaics in the same year.
Nathalie was the Manager of the Ceramic Center at Mbalmayo for five years and a recipient of multiple awards. She won the first prize for the African Creativity International Exhibition of Handicrafts, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in 2012 and a host of other awards.

She came to Nigeria in 2015 and has participated in a number of group exhibitions. She is a member of the Society of Nigerian Artists and a co-founder of the first ceramic artists group in Nigeria VIC – Visions in Clay.

Ato Arinze is a sculptor, potter, arts consultant and arts manager. Born in Lagos, Nigeria in the mid 60s, he had his formal education in the southwest and southeastern parts of Nigeria respectively. He obtained his Higher National Diploma certificate from the Yaba College of Technology in 1991. In 1993, he had a short stint with the iconic Abayomi Barber at the University of Lagos where he learnt portrait sculpture.
Ato was a visiting instructor to the University of Lagos' ceramic department and a facilitator of ceramics at the Harmattan Workshop, Agbara Otor, Delta State for two years. He is the co-founder of Art-Zero group and has organized and participated in many group exhibitions within and outside Africa.
He received the Solidra Award for Sculpture in 2002 and the distinguished Artist Award of the Society of Nigerian Artists, Lagos State Chapter in 2008. He has a host of sculptural commissions to his credit, among which is the bust of the first President of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe. Ato is a member of the Society of Nigerian Artists and a co-founder of the first ceramic artists group in Nigeria, VIC – Visions in Clay.

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