From diaspora with Expansion of Time
Apart from sharing the commonality of being diaspora artists, Wura-Natasha Ogunji and Raoul Olawale Da Silva have other factors that connect their art. Period, places and multiculturalism from which each artist derive ventilation bring them into sharing individual’s perspective of ‘Time’ in a single space at home.
The artists’ works – representational and abstraction respectively – opened the 2017 art activities as Expansion of Time, currently showing till April 28, 2017 at Temple Muse, Victoria Island, Lagos. Ogunji’s application of lines and conservative spread of space as an extension of the artist’s performance and video installation works depict her views about behavioural patterns of people, as a U.S.-based Nigerian artist. For Da Silva, who is based in Switzerland, spontaneity energises his abstract strokes on canvas, stretching viewers through a deep intellectuality of art appreciation.
Curated by Sandra Mbanefo Obiago, with sponsorship from Swiss International Bank, UBS, and luxury house, Moet Hennessey, the exhibition adds to the strength of the contemporary art space of Lagos. Interestingly, the curatorial approach to the exhibition narrates the evolving two sides of Lagos art, curiously, from diaspora artists. In each of the artists’ works, a Nigerian art space that is split between traditional method such as painting on canvas and non-regular material/process is adequately represented. Ogunji’s expression via mixed media of graphite pastel on trace paper generates element of design and contemporary shift in visual expression. And when Da Silva sticks to painting on canvas, his strokes strike a chord in bridging the gap between modern and contemporary divides of art appropriation.
With a graphic rendition in a six-piece that analogises the rays of sun in relation to the human strength, Ogunji simplifies visual narration, sharing her views about individual’s responsibility to better the world. And sometimes, her hand-stitched imaging on trace papers generates an illusion of dimensionality, as suggests in ‘Field Theory.’ In fact, the work offers technical views into Perspective Art, displaying three images of great depths.
When Da Sila showed Inner Worlds Outer Space, his first major solo in Lagos in 2013, abstraction in unpretentious and bold tone was seen on the city’s art landscape. About four years after, the artist, who is a skateboarding enthusiast, is back with a stronger energy in his form of art that is, apparently, not populist. Da Silva stretches one’s sense of appreciation and imagination further by having all his works Untitled. Like most artists, whose choice of abstraction puts your sense of interpretation to tests, Da Silva insists, his work allows people freedom to express what they see in diverse ways. “Untitling my works expand the concept within me,” he explains to select guests at Temple Muse. “I am appreciative of people’s interpretation of my work.”
From his surfing and skateboarding passion comes 10 discarded skateboards as installation. He explains why the skateboards have been “repurposed” and implored with “form, shape and surface for painting, drawing, collage assemblage, installation and performance.”
Every artist, who wither naturally or consciously is caught in the web of spontaneous release usually traces such artistic behaviourial pattern to certain influence. For Da Silva, it appears like the energy in his passion for surfing and rendition on canvas shares the spontaneity connection. However, with ancient motifs or signs and symbols, the artist actualises a concept of Time, which either compresses or stretches perception.
In her curatorial note, Obiago explains that the exhibition tells the artists’ stories “from the outside looking in: two creative souls exploring, seeking, sometimes even battling, to come to terms with cultural anomalies and political incongruity.”
CEO of Temple Muse, Avinash Wadhwani, describes the artists as “two phenomenal artists whose breadth of experience and unique perspective is refreshing and avant-garde.”
Da Silva (b. 1969) is a skate-and snow-boarder, surfer and environmental activist. He graduated from the University of Applied Arts in Luzern, Switzerland in 1998, and has worked as a full time studio artist ever since.
Da Silva has taken part in exhibitions in Switzerland and Nigeria and is described as “an artist with a deep history and multi-layered perspective.”
Ogunji (b. 1970) has received numerous awards, including a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2012) and grants from the Idea Fund, Houston (2010), and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation (2005). She has had exhibitions and performed in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America including at The Menil Collection (Houston), The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts (St. Louis), the National Performance Network (New Orleans), the Seattle Art Museum, MoCADA (New York), and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. Ogunji received a BA in Anthropology from Stanford University in 1992 and a MFA in Photography from San Jose State University in 1998.
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