Thursday 16 June 2022

At Kó Gallery, three women enliven collage art with contemporary energies

Mobolaji Ogunrosoye's diptych titled 'Toyin Observant

Taiye Idahor, Marryam Momma and Mobolaji Ogunrosoye bring avant-garde texture in mixed media of photography and painting to the Lagos art landscape.

The artists' group exhibition titled Austere Imaginary opened on Saturday, June 11, showing till July 3, 2022, at Kó, Gallery, 36 Cameron Road, Ikoyi, Lagos. The exhibition explores precision and thoughtfulness in paper assemblage of collage. It features structured compositions of meticulous minimalism that, while whimsical and emotive, communicate measured pathways to the surreal.

Idahor, an artist who has been using themes of female hair to make contemporary statement on the past bring into the gathering, among others, Averted Gaze (Green), 2022, a convergence of laser print collage; oil pastel, acrylic paint and acid free paper, under what she called Hybrid series. A surreal of four ladies' heads, mounted on an obscured body, the piece stresses, among others, how a lady's hair style speaks much volume in fashion statement, across ages, especially in the era when synthetic and natural hair are competing for attention.  And more importantly, the spot of hair in cultural and racial identity, perhaps, inspired Idaho's Hybrid series.

 A woman's bare chest may mean different things to people across genders. But for Momma, the woman's breasts starts, first and foremost as 'Mother's Milk', the title of her 2022 mixed media collage; recycled paper, archival paper, wood, gold acrylic paint, black ink, watercolor markers, color pencils, and dried florals. 

 From Next of Kin to ART X Lagos, among other art events, Ogunrosoye, in the last two years has been consistent with her monochrome style figurative that tells story of beauty, culture and fashion. This much she escalates in 'Portrait. Toyin, Observant', a 2022 diptych of photo collage; archival paper, burnt Fabriano paper, and rough textured Fabriano paper, which, perhaps, give dual perspective to a single story.  

Kó Gallery explains that the artists' works, exacting cuts and arrangements are employed to produce sculptural results that arrive at the liminal space between figuration and abstraction. Adding to that feature are imagery of flesh and florals are given a mechanized treatment conversant with Afrofuturism.

"Austere Imaginary features themes of life and decomposition, which mirror the process of collage making itself," Ko Gallery said in its curatorial statement. "The exhibit aims to challenge conventional notions of masculine and feminine production, intentionally centering contradictions and presenting works that are at once disciplined and fantastical, extractive and additive." The gallery stated that Austere Imaginary is in dialogue with growing scholarship on collage tradition and its applications in contemporary fine art, but distinct in its exclusive display of collage works on and of paper. "Ephemeral and transient even when highly processed, paper’s qualities elevate the exhibition thesis, and calculated manipulations of the figure foreground techniques evocative of the artists’ professional and academic training in sculpture and architecture."

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