Saturday 21 August 2021

With recycled media art, 'we can breathe'

From Samuel Uzoma, 'Exuberance' (waste fabric collage on canvas, 154 x 206 cm), dated 2021. Pic: c/o Thought Pyramid.

THE increasing aura of contemporaneity from art of non-traditional media, unavoidably, has been radiating gradual change i1st century collection space. It takes courage and boldness of a credible gallery to strengthen the shift and keep pushing alternative form of art, specifically of recycled and upcycled media, into the art appreciation circuits.

In art hub city as Lagos, which thrives more on modern art of painting and sculptures in the popular traditional media, it is not unexpected for most conservatives to view radical textures or alternative art with suspicion. As much as the art collecting community is crucial to the survival of visual culture, creativity should also be allowed to exhale in expanding the virtue of broad appreciation. 

F or art to enjoy healthy lungs to breathe, the atmosphere of appreciation being inhaled must be cleansed of prejudice. Cleansing the art appreciation air is more of the galleries' responsibility than that of the artists. The task of a gallery in promoting art, irrespective of the textures of such creative venture, should not be built on sympathy collection. Again, it takes tested gallery like Thought Pyramid Art Centre to prove that art of recycled or upcycled media is not also excluded from appreciation generated out of sincerity as against collection culture based on sympathy patronage. Constantly, Thought Pyramid has been consistent in showing art of medium-specific in expanding the appreciation space. The gallery, for example, asserted its strength in the area of medium-specific show with Ajorin; Dancemetalphor, a group art exhibition of five artists that focused on welded-metal, in November 2020.

Less than a year after, the gallery brings Fact File, a group exhibition of eigth artists into the hybrid of commercial and critical space in recycled and upcycled media. The currency and the future’s timelessness are factors in Fact File, on which the environmental management focus flies. Increasingly displaying its passion in the direction of hybrid art appreciation is Thought Pyramid Art Centre, a space for modern and contemporary art. It took strong pedigree and vast knowledge of artists for a gallery such as Thought Pyramid to sieve through the volumes of studios across Nigeria and arrived at the list of eight artists for Fact File.

The art appreciation policy direction of Thought Pyramid is likened to the passion that led to the  discovery of some young artists in New York of the 1980s, whose works are currently among the most priced in the world. For  example, the graffiti artists of the 1980s such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, among others were more conscious of creating art in radical context, first and foremost, away from the norms, than attracting anyone’s attention. However, collectors like Herbert and Lenore Schorr saw the future in the young artists, especially Basquiat, and started collecting them. The ventilation for Basquiat's art to keep breathing was provided by the confidence generated by the Schorrs.

In Lagos, Thought Pyramid Art Centre has been giving lungs to art of alternative forms and media to keep breathing by expanding the culture of collecting. Yes, there are genuine fear over collecting art of alternative media, particularly for those collectors already aligned with the texture of traditional painting and sculpture, for many decades. Such fear and suspicion of fragility, usually, is based on some collectors' encounters with artists and galleries that lacked the required experience in recycled media. However, Thought Pyramid Art Centre's Fact File and the exhibiting eight artists has brought more confidence into the art collecting space as regards recycled media.

The major wing of responsibility to the environment, on which Fact File lies, is a clarion call on the community of art collectors. The maxim of 'what goes around comes around' is profound in this context. Art connoisseurs or collectors are humans too whose healthy survival depends on a properly managed environment.

Even if the only thing that matters to collectors is the survival of their collections, it's still important to show interest in how the environment is managed as regards waste. For example, an environment where waste are poorly managed is vulnerable to perenial flooding.  Mostly exposed to such flooding caused by poor waste management are coastal cities of choice properties. To protect public and private properties — massive art collections inclusive  — against flooding, everyone must contribute to proper waste management.

For the community of art enthusiasts, the task of rescuing the environment by patronising art of recycled or upcycled media is a clarion call. The collective responsibility has brought Nigeria Machine Tools, TrustBanc and Lakeyard as sponsors of Fact File. Again, this is about collecting for crucial environmental responsibility and not for sympathy to patronise the artists and Thought Pyramid. 

On Saturday, August 21,  Fact File opens with a private viewing to seleet guests at Thought Pyramid Art Centre, Norman Williams Street, Ikoyi, Lagos. The exhibition continues on Sunday, August 22 ending September 12, 2021.  

Such works of art that speak to everyone in the context of rescuing our environment from poor waste management, as seen in Fact File preview, among a total of 24 pieces, include 'Lagos/New York' (soft plastic, copper wire, and pins, installation varies), dated 2020, by Lanre Tejuoso; 'Eko For Show' (scrap metal, 160cm x 202 cm); by Abu Momogima; 'I Walker Well' (tyre, 90cm x110cm), dated 2017, by Ernest Nkwocha; and "Owner's Corner' (mixed media recycle, 114cm x 70cm) dated 2021 by Yusuf Durodola

Others, among the exhibits of three from each artists are: 'The City Is Not For Me' (flip flops slippers, marco and shoe soles (4ft x 4ft) dated 2021 by Tayo Olayode; 'Exuberance' (waste fabrics collage on canvas, 154cm X 206cm with 25cmx31cm each) by Samuel Uzoma;  'Celebrant On Her Birthday (copper wire, pine wood, proxy glass, cocks, nails etc, 242cm X 132cm) dated Samson Akinnire; and 'Peaceful Co-existence (discarded rubber), dated 2021 from Lateef Olajumoke

As a group art exhibition of recycled media-specific, Fact File is setting a pathway through which the creative industry can be counted in waste management, so that we can all breathe well. Thought Pyramid Art Centre and the exhibiting artists need the support of everyone to make our environment a better place to live and enjoy art.

 -Review by Tajudeen Sowole for the exhibitioncatalogue of Fact File.


Meet Fact File exhibiting artists:

Uzona Samuel Anyanwu’s inimitable approach to fabrics collage paintings, the exploration of recycled materials to art has distinguished him from his contemporaries. He shares the opinion that “recycled art is the art of the future. People are getting tired of how things are done repeatedly.” Toying with his mother’s fabric waste materials gave him the earliest appreciation of art. Fabrics are global identities that unite humanity; each of Uzo’s works has uncountable pieces from different parts of the world collaged in one face revealing diverse cultural motifs and symbols, as most of his works focus on globalization, how rapidly different cultures are integrating, postcolonial cultural adaptations. Fabrics have connected man than we think, associated collage works of Uzo simply portray globalization.

 Tayo  Olayode was born in Lagos, Nigeria which also doubles, presently, as his residence and studio location.  His upcycled art pieces are made in collaboration with his technological insights. He believes “ until we start to involve technology in art in Africa, we will never leave the stage we are now”. He is a full-time studio artist with over 20  years of practice. Currently, he has the biggest standing art installation in Nigeria and the third in West Africa, at over sixty feet tall. Olayode’s oeuvre includes diverse works using a range of complex techniques and styles in exploring material and methods, setting him apart as an artist who spans the worlds of abstract, realist, and surrealist expression. Inclusively, He is skilled in graphics design and printing technology.

 Ernest Nkwocha works have been exhibited widely within and outside Nigeria. In 2019, BBC world news and BBC Africa focus acknowledged and featured his repurposed tire sculptures. He chooses the tire texture that best interprets his intended subject. His inspiration is shaped by the actual texture of any tire he discovers. He documents and discusses in his works, the social and political lives that exist in his immediate society. Thereby, consciously and unconsciously reflecting deep thoughts in his composition.

 Olanrewaju Tejuoso presently lives, works, and was born in Abeokuta, Ogun State of Nigeria. He says his “...recycled art is used as a protest. The colors represent new liberties.” Olanrewaju is a prolific mixed media, performance, and installation Artist. He is also a painter. Olanrewaju is passionate about the environment and his Art leans towards this as he makes works from discarded and waste materials. Olanrewaju believes his enduring newfound concern for his people and environment is divine, which he called “From Waste to Life”.

 Lateef Olajumoke was born in Lagos, Nigeria. In defending his enigmatic upcycled art pieces, Lateef explains “ my upcycled art disturbs you because I am not doing the ordinary”. His aspiration includes expanding his artistic horizon through openness to new possibilities and material exploration to evoke a social dialogue with global and contemporary issues. Primarily, his interest is exploring investigated or self-experienced emotions and reactions of people in his immediate cosmopolitan environment with the aim to suggest solutions through his visual rendering. He is concerned with using lines to create representational art. 

 Yusuf Durodola sees discarded materials as souls and holds the view that “the way we relate with wastes is the way we relate with ourselves; we don't pay any attention.”. He is a prolific multidisciplinary Nigerian artist from Ibadan, Oyo State resident in Lagos. Yusuf Durodola’s genre of work blurs the boundaries of painting, recycle and up-cycle, and performance/video/photography art. His recycling practice focuses on the materials that are threatening environmental sustainability and channels them to address the issue of infrastructural decline, waste management, environmental pollution, echo system, and sensitization. He has participated in over 40 group art exhibitions, 2 solo exhibitions, residency programs, workshops, seminars, performances and He belongs to several art bodies.

Abu Momogima  Oshioma believes there is never a better day than today to start recycling and doing all that you hope to achieve”. He is an indigene of Edo State and a versatile sculptor. He has committed fully to art for 25 years since 1996. Abu Oshioma’s resourcefulness can be witnessed in his artworks which are created with abundant questions that border the mind of an artist who desires to see his immediate environment develop from the stagnant nature it has always seemed to possess. His objective includes identifying issues in his world that affect (the ordinary) humans and solving them by delivering durable solutions to such menace through his art. His result-oriented spirit continues to pave the way for him in creating arts that are relevant irrespective of the changes in time and period. Also, his integrity contributes to his achievements as a Nigerian artist.

 Samson Akinnire was born in Ajegunle, Lagos State, Nigeria. He is an experimentalist who strongly believes in expansion through the journey of discovery. His mixed media portraits incorporate articles of waste that invite clarifying and humanizing engagements with what is discerned as beautiful disposable elements. His art presents bold complexity and striking completeness that evoke an inherent potency and elaborates collages (mostly of beer cans). His works are mostly influenced by the experiment he had done restlessly from junky discarded materials. His creative ideas originated from harvesting “wastes'' of many kinds which are nailed, glued, cast, carved, welded, tied, cut, sliced, grind, punched, beaten, woven, stretched, burnt, painted, etc assembled with screws and nail perforations to create art. For him “...what makes the waste beautiful is expensive… At the end of the day, you are buying the art and the creativity. ”

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