Thursday 1 December 2022

'New Awakening' of hybrid art for sculptors in Nigeria

Visitors admiring a sculpture titled 'Iyalaje,' by Adeola Balogun.

OVER 30 artists showed at Elixir 2 - The New Awakening, a group exhibition by Sculptors Association of Nigeria (ScAN), held at National Museum Onikan, Lagos from November 26-30, 2022. The featured works of mixed media, metal, recycled, 'upcycled' sculptures, among others, made bold statements about the diversity of ScAN membership strength.

'Eixir 2: LIke a Voice in the wilderness'

As a professional association with a commitment to nurture, preserve and promote sculpture practice in the country by offering artistic interventions through appropriation of aesthetic, cultural, economic and most importantly therapeutic values of sculpture to a nation on the path to recovery and assured greatness, Sculptors Association of Nigeria (ScAN) is making a second appearance of their national exhibition tagged “ELIXIR 2”, a follow-up to last year very successful outing at the National Museum Lagos. As succinctly theorised in preceding literature of the previous edition, the exhibition is presented as a metaphor, a vehicle for curative solutions, an aesthetic palliative to a nation at crossroads. The works in general can be summarily captured under two instructive admonitions - contentment and self introspection. Frankly speaking, Nigeria has never experienced such a perplexing socio-economic situations aggravated by unending internal security threats as a time like this where custodians of the state appears confused and helpless forcing, many, especially youths to result to “Japa”, a local parlance for abdication and abandonment of of one’s fatherland or result to crimes which obviously is not in the best of patriotic solution. This negative developments have prompted loss of faith in the nationhood and unwholesome emergence of non-state actors coming into national prominence, albeit negatively. 

 This seemingly bleak outlook notwithstanding, corrective measures must be taken to remedy the downward trend like a prescribed curative medication to restore the nation to the path of greatness to which it has derailed overtime. Such medication most times could be a bitter jagged pill that must be swallowed with an elixir of sort for which the Sculptors Association of Nigeria in its contribution is offering this exibition- “ELIXIR 2” as a contributary part. While the exhibition does not make pretence to singular stylistic trend or unified thematic direction, the array of works nonetheless chart a common path in appealing to the conscience of the nation through - satirical presentation, material exploration, phiolosophical admonition and promotion of traditional creative cultural values. 

The concept of satire presents a psychological comic relief in turbulent times which act as therapeutic massage to a broken heart. For this, Nelson Edewor’s  “Women Leader” (bronze); Iloani’s “Personal Assistance (fabric) and Adeogun David’s “Chairman”/ “Man of the People” (terracotta) made subtle but poignant reflection of political titles without commensurate achievement while Olusegun Aina’s “Call of Nature” (fibreglass) and Muraina Akeem’s “Kojusoko” queries lack of moral rectitude and fidelity that has characterized our social landscape resulting in broken marriages while his “Ofe” is a call for the people to arise from a position of weakness to strength. 

On the pedestal of material explorations, the world has obviously found itself in a quiqmire of wastes of all kinds (electronic, nuclear, industrial, environmental, biological etc.) that threatens the comfort and enjoyment of life which ordinarily should have been the gains of technological advancement but has turned out to constitute health hazards globally. Disposal of wastes has not solved the problem, hence the world is in a race to do away with the menace of wastes and one viable option is to deconstruct the concept of wastes as something to be discarded. Invariably, the world is forced to consume that which it has vomitted through re-cyclying, up-cycling and down-cycling. This efforts have given birth to new paradigm in the concepts of material exploration and divergent appropriations new media and the sculptors have featured ample number of it. Amongst these are John Adenle’s “Still Very Rich” (treated fabric); Kunle Adeyemi’s “Dialogue with Nature” (mixed media); Iyke Okenyi’s “Hope” (wood); Ganiyu Wasiu’s “Trumpeter” (metal). Also are Emma Ifeanyi Anyaduba’s “Ogolo Mask” (treated wood); Okay Ikenegbu’s “Adanma” (metal); Ayooluwa Akinrinola’s “Portrait Heads” (metal). Others are Adetola Adenuga’s “Incomplete Behaviour” (mixed media); Norbert Okpu’s “Custer” (wood); Adeola Balogun’s “Gbedu: Drum of Honour”/ “Aje” (mixed media); Yusuf Seidu Okus “Fluitists” and the  Thejunkmanfromafrica’s quintessential “Junk Assemblage (junk). On the surface, it would appears these works only delved into material explorations, however, their philosophical admonitions should not be lost under material explorations only as they directly speak to the carelessness that hitherto characterized our insensitivity to safe environmental practices. Essentially, ThejunkmanfromAfrica’s exhibit is a brutal allegory of the the negative impact of enforced cultural diffusion and neo-colonial assimilation that have impinged on Africa’s morality and safe traditional technology while John Adenle’s piece speaks of a better hope for the nation.  

Along the line of Philosophical admonitions, Shola Kukoyi’s “Meditation” (metal) and Djakousi Nathalie Kassi’s “Meditation” (terracotta) are clarion calls to a time of sober reflection and introspection needed for this nation to navigate the difficult times.  Oladapo Afolayan’s “Currency” (stone) is a prophetic admonition on degradation and currupt fiscal state of Nigerian symbol of exchange (Naira) and by extension the economy which has now been validated by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) current re-designation of its currency. Ato Arinze’s “Two Sisters” (bronze); Felix Anyaduba’s “egede Dance” (wood) and Abiye Ayandepo’s “Ayelujara” (wood) re-directs our attention to African values that are on the brink of total annihilation if not checked. Finally, Kenneth Njoku’s emotive piece- “The Year 1967” (bronze) is a sad reflection of Nigeria’s civil war where brothers took up arms against each other remotely but actively instigated by foreign interests. Unfortunately, it is as though lessons have not been learnt because the basis of that war (injustice) still dwell with us even though hatchets was seemingly buried only superficially.

Conclusively, like a prophets, the Sculptors Association of Nigeria (ScAN) have spoken to the conscience of the nation though this offering- ELIXIR 2. It is left for all to yield to the voice of reason by promoting equity and justice without which there cannot be a true union of like minds in any social contract. The sculptors have by visual creativity presented visual treatise for the nation to look inward for sustenance rather than focussing on foreign engagements and irredeemable loans. In the global economy market, every nations consciously promotes its area of “uniqueness” in order to attract foreign patronage and establish economic growth which inturn strengthens its currency. One vital area of Nigeria’s uniqueness that can easily attract foreign investment flow is the creative culture of the people; the local cultural content, especially in the arts. Investments in such endeavours can only stengththen the Naira. Should Nigeria sincerely hope to be significantly noted in global arena, Nigeria’s creative culture must be revisited with devotion and commitment. There must be conscious policies to preserve, nurture and promote the arts. It is a viable alternative to this season of despondency that currently parvades the nation. This may not have been the best of times but it is definitely the time to make the best use of what the nation can offer in terms of material and human potentials. Lessons must be learnt, prices must be paid. It is a pill that must be taken. Like a voice in the wilderness, the prophets, I mean the sculptors have spoken again, let the nation test and examine itself and return to the path of glory. Welcome to ELIXIR 2 and happy viewing. -Shola Kukoyi Ph.D. 2022, Sculptor and art Theorist, Sec. General, ScAN.      

Translucent S.I. Media management agency for artists and art galleries

From the Curator's Desk

Elixir 2 - The New Awakening 

Sculptural art is an aspect of visual art form Africa has offered the world. It is said that sculpting is a more powerful art than painting and literature. It can be touched and felt. Nigeria is regarded as the “Greece of Africa” and has contributed a great deal of this aspect of visual art. Mankind has benefitted greatly from the richly varied sculpture from Nigeria. There are remarkable outdoor sculptures that are on permanent exhibition in different parts of the country.

Last year, a bold step was taken by great sculptors to form an association in Nigeria, to enable them showcase their talent and remarkable skills to the public. To also let their works speak to the joy, challenges frustration and social stimuli of society. It also affords the Artists the opportunity to showcase the masters of this generation. Every generation is endowed with masters. This gave rise to the first edition titled Elixir: Sculpture as Aesthetic Palliative to a Nation at Crossroads. It was well received by art lovers, critics and collectors.

Elixir 2 - The New Awakening - is a follow up of the first Sculptors Association of Nigeria exhibition and this spectacular showing is composed of varied works with a lot of depth and sophistication. Art lovers will be able to witness three-dimensional works of sculpture in wood, Metal, plastic, fiberglass, bronze, stone and installation art. There also relief works with new ideas and solutions. Some of the works in this exhibition will make you laugh, some will make you cry and others will excite as well as heal you.

This exhibition which will run for one week at the National Museum Lagos promises to be worth- your- while. These are well selected masterpieces for your pleasure and consumption. Indeed, it is an awe-inspiring exhibition.


-Moses Ohiomokhare Curator, Art Consultant, Sociologist and Anthrop- ologist. 

Some of the sculptures at 'Elixir 2- New Awakening' exhibition.

Exhibited artists: Fatai Abdulkareem, Adebor Phillips Adenle, John Oyewole, Adeogun David, Kunle Adeyemi Adenuga Adetola, Aderinsoye Ademorin Aladegbongbe, Adetola Adenuga, Olusegun Samuel Aina, Ayooluwa Akinrinola, Felix Anyaduba, Ifeanyi Emmanuel Anyaduba, and Ato Arinze. Others include Ayandepo Abiye Ayanladun, Ganiyu Wasiu Ayinde. Balogun Musliu Adeola, Dilomprizulike (Thejunkmanfromafrica), Djakou Kassi Nathalie Edewor Nelson, Steve Ekpenisi, Ikenegbu Okay, Iloani Simon Chidiebere, Akeem Muraina, Njoku Kenneth, Phillips Nzekwe, Juliet Adiza Nzekwe, Afolayan Oladapo, Samuel Rotimi, Prof. Bruce Onobrakpeya, Kukoyi Olushola, Obikoya Olukayode Emnanelle, Iyke Okenyi Yusuf Seidu Okus, Norbert Okpu, and Pedro Peter Akande.

Translucent S.I. Media management agency for artists and art galleries

Also read: Preserving heritage of unwilling Lagos

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