Sunday 19 July 2020

Olaku, Ogiugo others in 'DeFiAnCe' against pandemic

A piece by Edosa Ogiugo titled 'Black Princess' (Uvbi Ne Khui), pastel on paper, 16.5x23.4 inches, dated 2020. Pic: c/o Breath Hope Gallery.

In its debut art exhibition, a new entrant, Breath Of Hope Africa Gallery has assembled 20 artists, from across two generations.
Currently showing virtually, as DeFiAnCe: Creativity In Times Of Crisis, the exhibition, according to curator and director of the gallery, Adebimpe Adebambo, celebrates the visual stories told by 20 Nigerian artists "from the depths of their hearts." The theme, Adebambo explained, captures how the artists expressed themselves in the year of pandemic. Also, the 2020 year of the covid-19 pandemic, coincidentally, gave birth to the new gallery.
"The 20 artists represent 2020, the year we would never forget, when several people had made wonderful plans for and that some would rather 'cancel' and erase from their calendars," Adebambo who is also among the exhibiting artists stated. "Their works inspired me to organise and curate the first virtual exhibition for my new Breath Of Hope Africa Gallery, which I also started during this global pandemic."

Abiodun Olaku, Edosa Ogiugo, Adekusibe Odunfa, Bolaji Ogunwo, Ibe Ananaba, Adebanji Alade, Adebambo, Austin Uzor, Akindele John Damilola, Brian Olaolu Wilson, Elizabeth Ekpetorson, Femi Morakinyo and Godwin Akpan are among the exhibiting artists. Others include Mala Iwa Gbado Ikaleku, Matthias Aragbada, Omotoyosi Ogunlende, Olamide Ogunade, Sylvester Aguddah Tolulope Olamide Ajayi and Tolu Mustapha. 
Adebambo's curatorial thoughts go further to get each artist shows three works. The total of 60, she explained, "represent the years Nigeria has remained a Republic since gaining independence from the British colonialists."

Sensationalized into three rooms, the exhibition, which opened, significantly, on Nigeria's newly declared June 12  Democracy Day, is showing till September 12, 2020. Last year, President Muhammadu Buhari changed Nigeria's Democracy Day from May 29 to June 12, in recognition of the annuled June 12 presidential elections won by the late businessman, Moshhod Kashimawo Abiola (MKO). 
Suddenly, the lockdown seems to be proliferating virtual art exhibitions, suggesting that a possible saturation of the digital space in visual culture. To separate her exhibition from the flood of virtual shows populating the digital outlets, Adebambo has brought in what could be described as a boost in missing in the traditional gallery. The contents of the exhibits are enriched with alternations during the three months period of showing. Also, the three months showing schedules presents a deviation from most art galleries in Lagos that hardly extend their exhibitions beyond two weeks, a situation that always shortens wide viewership.

"The virtual exhibition is dynamic, because along the course of the three months duration, different rooms in the gallery will be revealed to the public on the social media platforms,' the curator said adding that the first room with 16 of the 60 artworks and with the sub theme of 'Emotions', opened on Friday June 12, 2020."

Basically, the theme of the exhibition, Adebambo noted, is based on the resilience of Nigerians in confronting complex situations. "As the country grapples with the weight of so many problems and challenges, the exhibition is a reminder that the creative industry is the new oil and that artists document history."
The exhibition, Adebambo recalled, was inspired by some Nigerian artists, whose works she follows on instagram. "These artists created beautiful artworks and posted them on social media during the trying times when many were numb, confused and generally disoriented." She argued that "It takes a lot to be creatI've, even when things are normal," and more challenging in the era of a pandemic.
In extending its scope, the exhibition is on different platforms such as Facebook in a virtual experience of the artworks, videos of the first room in the Breath Of Hope Africa Gallery Youtube and Instagram pages. The video, Adebambo explained "is different from the virtual reality experience which can only be seen on the Facebook page."

The Virtual Reality is done by Kugali Media, a company telling African stories through comics, animation, augmented and virtual reality.

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