|Experimental 'Linear' painting technique by Dr John Oyedemi during the Alexis Residency...recently in Lagos.|
Having established itself as a window for young professionals to exhibit their works, since opening eight years ago, the Victoria Island, Lagos-based Alexis Galleries has a way of bringing established artists into the structure as mentoring supports. For the latest residency, Oyedemi, a lecturer at University of Jos, Plateau State appeared like the mentor figure in the 2018 Alexis Art Residency.
And also for Patsy Chidiac, the curator at Alexis, the gallery's residency would continue as an enduring culture holding at least twice a year. The plan, she disclosed, "is to have two artist-residency a year for participants to inspire one another". Chidiac cited example of Oyedemi, which she described as "helping to lift the younger ones during the residency".
The gathering, she noted, showed direction in some, while in others, it's more about the creativie contents.
Walking into the residency space at Akin Olugbade Str, off Adeola Odeku, quite an informal setting of artists and their work tools confronted a visitor. As the artists took a break from one of their early morning sections, they converged to share individual experience with some select guests. Whatever prejudice in training that Oyedemi, who has a formal mentorship background brought into the gathering changed so soon. He recalled his initial reservations for "certain things". But as he got more involved with keen attention, he said "soon, we started bonding, even sharing the same bed". Whatever he has acquired at the Alexis Galleries Art Residency, he argued, goes beyond his personal gains. "Coming here will impart greatly on my students back in Jos", he said. "I hope to collaborate with Alexis Galleries in future, bringing my students here."
As an artist, approaching his mid-career, Kolapo had quite some residency experiences in the past. But he seemed to have encountered fresh experience at the Alexis gathering. "This is my third and a bigger one", he enthused. Specifically, he added: "We are happy to have Dr Oyedemi among us".
Speaking on the participants' bonding and new experience as essence of the residency, Kolapo noted that "in working together, we derive 'change' a theme that reflects our medium and style". He explained: "I appreciate the non-academic and non-competitive environment".
The international flavour of the residency came with Ghanaian artist, Tete-Kancharn whose area of focus included both painting and sculpture. Commending the curator/director of the residency, Chidiac for providing "some grants to buy materials", Tete-Kancharn argued that his experience is like being in another school. "Though residency, but I call it school".
More interesting, the gathering of the artists had its community value, even in Victoria Island axis which is a central business district part of the city. "A lot of people came here to see us and perhaps have benefitted something from our works in community value".
Work space appeal come in diverse mood, even though most artists would prefer quiet and serene type of studio environment. For Omofemi, the V.I central business district axis was a new and exciting experience to work. "I always lIke quiet and no highrise building space, but here I have been able to adapt working with diverse and crowded environment".
Art residency, in specific terms, allow artists a wider window to experiment with new things such as concept, style, materials or technique. Oyedemi had an experience to share in that context. One of his works spoted at the residency attracted one's attention. With quite some linear texture, the painting is a deviation from his usual style and technique. "My lines is about creating harmony in vertical and horrizontal", he explained. "I believe in using and achieving free and organic lines against mechanical types". As academic as Oyedemi sounded, his experience and approach confirmed the free and non-informal essence of Art residency. Still on his gain, Oyedemi disclosed how Omofemi's 'Afro series' paintings "fascinated" him and "thought we can do something" uncommon with materials.
As much as Art is basically about studio, the literary energy from which artists draw strength is also crucial at residency. Chidiac agreed, but assured that as a growing facility, "in future we will improve with library".
With a growing army of young artists in Nigeria,
selection for residency - particularly at Alexis Galleries' haven for new talents - could be challenging. "We select two up-and-coming artists and one big artist", Chidiac clarified. "Next residency will feature four artists from abroad and two here". And when the six artists of the just concluded residency show their works at Alexis, hopefully, in October this year the gallery would have strengthened its eight years of showcasing African artists in Lagos.