Sunday 13 October 2019

How Illumination-3 Interrogated art’s ‘therapeutic’ content

Painting by Banwo Adeleke.
TEN artists whose common focus on art is broader than the regular appreciation recently converged on Lagos to sustain a yearly gathering. Themed Illumination, the series, which boosts the city’s yearly art calendar, has attracted about 20 artists, in the last three editions, from across Nigeria. 

Regular artists in the series, Jonathan Ikpoza, Francis Agemo, Raymond Wright and Soile Olayimika were joined by new entrants: Edward Samuel, Banwo Adeleke, Omami-Wela Sule, Olatunde Taiwo, Ileogben Michael and Douglas Emih at the 2019 edition.

For the third time in succession, Ikpoza led the artists, as the 2019 edition entitled Illumination-3, was shown at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos last week.

According to Ikpoza, the exhibition “is all about art in its ‘therapeutic and educational values’."

With collage of newsprint, Ikpoza renders a painting portraiture of an unidentified lady whose gaze, in profile angle, is suggestive of the unknown future. Draped in the artist’s choice of blue, the lady’s skin of roughened colours over the newsprint of clothing energises creative depth of the message.
  From Douglas, Wright and Ileogben’s expressionism to the realism textures of Adeleke, Olayimika and Edward as well as mixed impressions of Olatunde, Sule, Illumination-3 brings together artists whose brushstrokes contribute to the emerging contemporary visual narratives of Nigeria.

  "To many, Illumination could mean light, glow, shimmering, radiance, brilliance or enlightenment," Ikpoza said in a curatorial statement. "To us, the artists, illumination has been a series of exposition into human thoughts and acts in a society." He explained how the theme "is the use of visual arts as a tool for enlightening the viewer about certain societal issues as seen and understood by the artists."

  Among the works on display was Awake by Ikpoza, which he described as "Focusing On Positive Energy for a Secure Society."

  For Agemo, art, he stated, is “a strong contender of how we share our thoughts and ideas,” noting that “Throughout history, art has survived the tidal wave of information, and remains an unpredictable source of imagination.”

   He argued that the world might not change at instant by art, but that art’s “slow and insipid spread into the active part of our brains lives to tell the tale."

   While Douglas noted, "imagination is the foundation for exploration," Wright said, “art is a unique experience that revolves around the life of the artists and their environment; art is life."

  Proudly expressionist, Ileogben explained that most of his works “are expressed as subjective abstract with synthetic and organic media all mixed together which is visible in most of my paintings.”

   He said  though palette knife “is the basic tool for my painting application and expression,” painting with brush also comes in for him as well.

   "In early 2010, I began to experiment with mosaic tiles to create form, images and designs from nature which were mostly on commissioned," Edward said of his art trajectory.

  "Emotions are a supremely valid phase of humanity at its noblest. Joy, anger, pain, repose, sadness, calm etc, are some of the emotions that demonstrate the vulnerability of humans to her social environment. In addition to other themes that I work on, I take special interest in the female figure for creative expression. Apart from being aesthetically appealing, the female figure is more sincere in its expression than the male figure. Society encourages the female to show her emotion, while the male is expected to be 'strong' and contain his emotions," Olayimika said in his artist’s statement.

    For Olatunde, his personal experiences and that of others reflect in what he described as “the beauty that exists in our communities.” This much is noticed in his works of mostly abstractions, which “speak philosophically about issues of life existence and those conditions that affect humanity."

  Omami-Wela who described himself as a prolific songwriter, performing artiste and sculptor said he “is poised with experimental sculpture in the form of metal exploration.”

 Excerpts from curatorial notes for Illumination – 3: "The artists place a spotlight on the society to highlight the need to either shun certain vile or embrace others. Last year we showcased the works of ten Nigerian male and female artists from different region with special attention to how art is therapeutic and educative."

 Tajudeen Sowole

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