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At Art X, Absolut beams Smile of hope on Alara

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For quite a number of reasons, such as lack of interest and the required space, artists in this part of the world do not produce site-specific outdoor work of art. Except at few solo exhibitions, where individual artists have mounted what could be described as ‘space-specific art,’ the Lagos art landscape has been barren of site-specific installations. And if such works did exist, perhaps, hardly were they celebrated.

But a new texture of site-specific art by Tunde Alara titled Smile may change the trajectory of such display. Alara, whose work combines art and fashion, thematically, draws attention of cosmopolitan Lagos towards issues such as mental health, depression and drug abuse. In contemporary expression that speaks to people across the youth brackets, Alara, an experimental artist takes the opportunity of Art X Lagos being sponsored by Absolut to lavish his artistic expression on the Civic Centre, Victoria Island venue of the second edition of the yearly event.

Ahead of mounting Smile, Alara explains how his artistic path connects with Smile as a theme. Absolut, a Silver sponsor of Art X says the commissioned piece metaphorically depicts the stigma that surrounds ideas and discussions about mental health conditions of neglected people in the society. “The installation box intends to communicate the subject of depression in a number of ways.” As the genre or medium of the installation clearly indicates, a completed art would not be in place until the period of mouting.

However, a sneak preview into the eventual instalation work shows that “the exterior section of the box will be covered in happy faces while the interior will have much darker tone to represent the turmoil that can stem from mental illness.”

Craig Van Niekerk, Marketing Director, Pernod Ricard Nigeria enthuses: “We are excited to be part of Art X Lagos this year. As a brand our global message is to create a better tomorrow tonight.”

Excerpts from Absolut: “We are standing for causes that provide a positive impact on our world. Through this thought provoking piece on freedom of expression, Absolut is partnering with Tunde Alara to create art that interprets a subject that is an unspoken reality for a number of people and one that is so personal to him.”

What is the concept of the commissioned installation all about?
‘SMILE’ is a site specific installation, that navigates mental illness as being more than just a binary, but rather a spectrum, drawing from my personal experiences.

What’s your experience about public space art? Any previous work(s)?
My practice as an artist tends to extend beyond my personal workplace, and crosses into the territory of street art.

How long is your site-specific installation staying at the Civic Centre?
The installation is up for three days, starting from the 3rd – 5th of November.

Olatunde Alara is a 25-year-old experimental visual artist, born and based in Lagos, Nigeria. Spending his formative years in England, he would later return to the city in 2011. With his only formal experience in art being from secondary school, in London, this would go on to shape his artistry through later found inspiration in graffiti and street art.

Absolut describes Alara as an experimental visual artist. “His creations are a combination of Fashion contemporary techniques to create and engage certain street art aesthetics that features bold characters. “His work considers a range of Topics such as mental health, Alienation and drug use to highlight issues that wouldn’t normally be considered popular choices to explore in Lagos.”



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