Sunday 7 March 2021

Celebrating Women‘s Day 2021 with artists of 'Destiny II' in Lagos


 'Africa Culture III', by Ayoola Onovo, (acrylic and watercolour on water colour paper. 2021). Pic: c/o Alexis Galleries.

WHEN nine female artists converge for International Women’s Day (IWD) 2021, in Lagos, quite a mix of fledging and hidden contemporary energies will be on display.

While the IWD of the year falls on Monday, March 8, 2021, the exhibiting Nigerian women artists will gather for a group show titled Destiny II from Saturday 13-20, at Alexis Galleries, Victoria Island, Lagos. The exhibition continues the yearly Destiny show, which debuted in 2019.


Mostly of under 40s, except for one or two of them, the artists are collapsing quite some experience into a single event.


Slightly leaning towards the International Women’s Day theme of ‘Choose to Challenge’, most of the exhibits from the Nigerian artists, seen during preview, few days ago, capture the essence of the yearly world event. For example, a bold facial rendition in monochromatic mix of hues titled Africa Culture, by Ayoola Onovo creates a texture of technique and drawing, combined. From the figure's heavily makeover face to bodily costumed, the artist captures a character set to confront challenges.


In hyper-realism painting of a young woman load carrier 'Alabaru', Esther Obiwuru's smooth brush movements ensure that her skills in capturing realism does not blur basic draughtsmanship quality. Apart from the artist's perception in visualising the Alabaru's posture, the mood of proudly making a living as 'Alabaru' is profound in colours too. In markets across southwest Nigeria, carriers of goods, mostly using their heads to move commodities are known as ‘Alabaru’ (a Yoruba word for helper). The painting, Obiwuru disclosed, was generated from her regular visit to markets in Ibadan. 


A head full of flowers of hair brings dramatic image akin to fantasy and fairy tale in the piece titled Rejuvenation by Jenny Ojeh. What a reprise mood for the wearer of the flowery hair, so suggests the artist's skill in depicting specific mood. 

Ladipo brings into the Destiny II gathering, a design flavour. With her painting background, the artist creates fashion accessory she calls Padlock Bag. Quite embedded in symbolism, the Paddlock Bag series seems like a self-esteem booster, especially, for those who chose to stick out of the crowd. 


The Padlock Bag, Ladipo said, serves as a protection from unwanted intervention. "It's a symbol of security," and as well as "an attention seeking bag," the artist stressed its functionality. The concept must have been growing in quiet popularity.  " I have been doing this for 10 years."


Ever wondered what was going on in the mind of an artist during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown of last year? Karen Ogidi shares her state of mind in a marine subject titled Lost at Sea. It's a depiction of being stranded in mental state.


In textured brush movements, Naomi Oyeniyi brings the fun in (gossip?) as two ladies share a great time in the wood. Complementing the ladies' radiance of joy is the vegetation of forest in the background as well as what looks like trees of dried leaves, suggesting the period of the year being referenced.



Perhaps, one of the most exposed among the exhibiting artists, Clara Aden, who has been consistent in monochrome texture releases her thoughts with Dignity of Labour. More than an arm of a macho male, which appears more of attraction as he renders a technical domestic service, the charcoal on paper also stresses the artist's passion for details.


For Aisha Idirisu, her choice of abstraction extends what she described as being eclectic as well as refusal to be caged into conformity. After dumping Engineering studies for Fine Art discipline, she seemed to have set out on a rebellious mission.


Traces of being different continues for Idrisu, so explains one of her works for the show. Three layers of wave-like images against patches of global landscape flaunts the artist’s visual intellect.


The attraction in celebrating IWD, perhaps, made Bimpe Owoyemi, a co-curator at Alexis Galleries join the Destiny II train. Her choice of realism style swells the sudden growing interest of young Nigerian artists in stepping up smooth brush strokes to the hyper-realism level. Her painting titled Evergreen explains duality of life. Her focus, she said, is on "life and its darkness parts."



Curator at at Alexis Galleries, Patty Chidiac Mastrogiannis noted that IWD is worth gathering for what she described as “a good mix of ladies,” for the exhibiton. “It means honouring every women in my life.” Again, the gallery, according to the curator, "is in partnership with Women At Risk International Foundation (WARIF)," disclosing that parts of the art sales go to support the not-for-profit organisation.


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