Sunday 2 February 2020

Strings Attached... when seven artists converged for sickle cell

Tayo Aiyelowo’s painting titled ‘Hadarii (Storm)’, 24’’ x 36, acrylic on canvas, 2019.
Muyiwa Akinmolere, Tayo Aiyelowo, Fortune Aniforo, Francis Agemo, Andikan Edwin, Deji Akinpelu and Wale Adeyemi are artists whose works have been captured in supports for people living with sickle cell.

With painting and photography, the artists converged for a group art exhibition titled Strings Attached, held at Didi Museum, Victoria Island, Lagos. Described as an event under the patronage of Dr Christopher Kolade (CON) and Chief Newton Jibunoh (OON), it was tagged “fundraiser art exhibition for sickle cell warriors.”
  From Rivals series come Akinmolere’s paintings titled Wuraola and Sisi Nene, in which the artist places much emphasis on the face. Also, in ‘Everyday People, another set of figural, he continues his heavily stylized work that draws a thin line between satirical contents and expressionism.
  The artist noted that as much as people wish that the increasing challenges facing the world could be changed, the reality, he argued, is that “we do not have the luxury,” to effect as much change. The sickle cell ailment, he said, “is not typically visible, its effect are undeniably around us.”
 Aiyelowo, whose strength on canvas lies more in her skill to render realism in figurative images, brings hues of portraitures into the exhibition. Capturing them in textures that radiate so much about the inner emotions of the victims, the portraits, the artist explained, interpret her real experiences, in most cases.
 In The Warriors, the bold stare of a child, illuminated by high key lighting touches the chord of someone too young to understand how nature shares the good, bad and ugly of life. On the opposite side of the hues of moods come We Stoop, another child subject, but brightly alive in very cheering expression.
 For the pieces titled To Be Or Not To Be and Hadarii, Aiyelowo goes further into the realm of reality for sickle cell sufferers. For example, in the beautiful painting Hadarii, the artist generates a dialogue between fate and the victim of sickle cell. The attached inscription reads:  ‘You cannot withstand the storm’, Fate warns. ‘I am the Storm.’ the victim boasts.
  Either in the child stares into the future with blankness or that of the cheering face, as well as sensuously attractive Hadarii expressions, Aiyelowo’s message, distilled from the victims’ plights, is summarized in being courageous against fate.  
  Anuforo’s series of Come It Rain Or Shine celebrates woman’s resilience in adding value to the family as well as bonding between mother and child. The artist, in another of the series titled Florence, seems to highlight a maiden’s excitement in loud makeover and fashion.
   From Agemo’s canvas of heads, depicted in bold facial features such as eyes, lips and sharp teeth comes Heads That Are Empty and Passport series. The artist’s canvas of dentistry appears like illustrative materials for clinical purpose.
 For Edwin, his fashion photography attempts quite a slight of conceptual imageries in Warriors series of three, in which the photographer brings the analogy of fist into the courage narrative.
 Another photographer, Akinpelu takes his lens into some series titled Beneath The Skin, exposing, in dark captures, quite a number of images that raise questions about health care. His focus, he said “is documenting stories of people in my immediate environment, struggles resilience and faith.”
 With Geno Wall, Not Again, Yoruba Demon, draughtsman Adeyemi looks at the issues, real and imagine that are linked to sickle cell. The artist said “my pencil never says no to humanitarian causes.”
  A curatotial note from Nayajo reads in parts: “As humans, there seems to be a part of us that often wants to believe the best, no matter how bleak a situation may appear – we usually call it hope.
  “Hope for some unwittingly eliminates certain realities, usually the unpleasant ones. We however must realize that in order to have a balanced experience of life, we have to willingly embrace all of what it throws at us, no matter how distasteful. Only then we are truly empowered to write our own stories and as much as possible influence the outcomes of the seeming uncontrollable situations around us. In the words of Thomas S. Monson - We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.
  “In seeking solutions over the years, our approach to the issues around us has been to probe beyond the surface; exploring as many possible angles, by asking questions and trying our best to see each situation both in isolation and as part of the whole gamut. It is with this same approach we take a look at the sickle cell.”
 -Tajudeen Sowole.

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