Saturday 26 October 2019

Return of 'Zaria rebels' in Celebration of Legacies

A painting by Yusuf Grillo titled 'Kabiyesi and Olori'.
Today, one of the most iconic groups in Nigerian visual arts parlance, the 'Zaria Rebels', are back on the exhibition circuit. Arthouse Contemporary regroups the artists in an exhibition titled Zaria Art Society: Celebration of Legacies, starting wit a private viewing today and continues from tomorrow October 27-November 15, 2019 at the Kia Showroom, 308, Adeola Odeku Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Yusuf Grillo, Demas Nwoko, Emmanuel Odita, Simon Okeke, Uche Okeke, Bruce Onobrakpeya and Oseloka Osadebe are the revered names whose careers took off from Nigeria's independence era evolution of visual culture. Their works are showing in what Arthouse described as "a very special exhibition."

The Zaria Art Society was formed as a group of art students at the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology (NCAST), Zaria in 1958. Their form of artistic philosophy known as natural synthesis promoted  Nigerian artistic identity against the westernized expression in art education. The artists' radical expression earned them the 'Zaria Rebel' phrase.

Accompanying the exhibition is a roundtable discussion, titled “Meet the Legends”, holding on Saturday, November 2, 2019, at the Kia Showroom. The roundtable will bring together few of the artists that formed the group over six decades ago, including Yusuf Grillo, Demas Nwoko and Bruce Onobrakpeya.
 Arthouse noted: "These artists rejected the Western-centric educational framework of the time, preferring to promote the idea of “natural synthesis” that prioritized indigenous artistic styles and narratives."

Arthouse's Gallery statement explained that the artworks selected explore the philosophical ideas and creative dialogue they shared at school in Zaria that defined and chartered the path of modernism in contemporary Nigerian art. The works selected for the show, it was said also presents in dialogue their distinct and individual multi-dimensional creative expression, which they individually forged in their different geographical locations across the country. Curated by Professor Jerry Buhari of Fine and Applied Arts at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, the exhibition, according to Arthouse celebrates the artists as icons and legends of Africa's cultural heritage.
 The exhibition, which includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, designs and prints also features archival materials that explore the history of the Zaria Art Society and their intellectual and philosophical pursuits.
The roundtable discussion, Arthouse said offers the rare opportunity to hear from these masters of modern art in Nigeria.
The accompanying publication for the exhibition includes scholarly essays and statements by Professor Osa Egonwa (Department of Fine and Applied Arts, Delta State University Abraka Delta State, Nigeria); Professor Jacob Jari (Department of Fine Arts, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Nigeria); Rebecca Wolff (PhD Candidate, Department of Art History, University of Califor- nia, USA); Kolade Oshinowo (Former National President Society of Nigerian Artists); Pro- fessor Gambo Giles Duniya (Department of Fine Arts, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Nige- ria); Emeritus Professor Ola Oloidi (Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Nigeria Nsukka, Nigeria); Olu Amoda (Yaba College of Science and Technology Yaba, La- gos, Nigeria); Krydz Ikwuemesi (Associate Professor of Fine Art, Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Nigeria Nsukka, Nigeria); Professor D. O. Babalola (Former Pro- fessor of Art History, Department of Fine Arts, Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Nigeria); dele jegede (PhD. Professor Emeritus, Art & Art History, Miami University Oxford, OH, USA); Dr. Mike Omoighe (Yaba College of Science and Technology Yaba Lagos, Nigeria); Dr. Kunle Filani (Federal College of Education, Technical Akoka Lagos., Nigeria); Ozioma Onuzulike (Professor of Ceramic Art and Art History, University of Nigeria Nsukka, Nigeria); Professor Frank Ogiomoh (Independent scholar); Ijeoma Ucheke-Okeke (Asele Institute Foundation Nimo, Anambra State, Nigeria); and Chika Okeke-Agulu (Professor and Director of Gradu- ate Studies in the Department of Art and Archaeology, and Department of African American Studies, Princeton University, USA).

Zaria Art Society: Celebration of Legacies is proudly sponsored by Access Bank, The Ford Foundation Access Bank, Ford Foundation, Kia, Lasis, Le Connaisseur, Eric Kayser, 7UP, Veuve Clicquot and Guardian Arts.

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