How masterly statements from Infinite Treasures Lifted Lagos Art Season 2018
Kolade Oshinowo, Reuben Ugbine, Abiodun Olaku, Bunmi Babatunde, Sam Ovraiti, Duke Asidere, Edosa Ogiugo, Alex Nwokolo, Felix Osiemi, Fidelis Eze Odogwu, Joshua Nmesirionye and Diseye Tantua returned with Infinite Treasures 2018, a yearly art exhibition shown at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The 2018 edition is the fourth in the series since the same gathering changed the title from Distinction after two years.
In six years of grouping artists of like minds, the exhibition has featured at least one new artist in every edition. For the 2018 show of Infinite Treasures, Osiemi, a U.S.-based artist is making his debut.
This gathering of Nigerian contemporary masters is always worth the yearly wait, so suggests the depth of richness that exists in the works. In fact, such depth is mostly found at art auctions.
For example, ‘Dark and Lovely’ (oil on canvas), by Oshinowo exudes the beauty, elegance and confidence of an ebony complexioned lady.
Known for his mastery of simplified figurative rendition, Oshinowo, in this 2013 painting allows more shades to compete favourably with light.
In fact, apart from the lady’s headscarf, nearly every other content is dark, yet the radiation of beauty persists.
A painterly drawing in greenish yellow titled ‘Motherhood’ adds to the artist’s works for the exhibition.
As an artist whose skills in drawing is well known to always inject life into figurative imageries, Ogiugo, in ‘Celebration Time’ (oil on canvas, 2018), brings multiple values: apart from getting one into the dancing mood, the aesthetics in colour schemes and strokes of brush movements project the elegance of the ‘buba’ (native blouse). Ogiugo adds ‘The Smile’ to the list of his works for the show.
Enriching the diversity of Infinite Treasures, particularly in painting, is the expressionism texture of Ovraiti.
In ‘Element of Beauty’ (acrylic on textured canvas, 2017), Ovraiti’s stylised figures of women converge the diversity on the business of fashion and life style. He further celebrates the softer gender in ‘Women and Babies’.
Simply titled ‘Eve’, a 2018 wood figure by Ugbine, combines technique that generates deep dialogue with the standing sculpture. While the top to the torso suggests impressionistic capture, the other half is more engaging in creative dialogue.
As socio-economic challenges degenerate other crucial values, Asidere, in ‘The Family’ (oil on canvas, 2018) brings attention to that unit of the society, which is fundamental to survival. In both loud expressions of colour and cubism technique, the artist, in this two-figurative painting, posits that the family unit is either a victim or producer of the increasingly degenerating human values across cultures of the world. A seven–figure painting of the same year titled ‘The 16th’ celebrates the artist’s daughter. “My daughter was turning 16 and I wanted to make a painting that celebrates her,” he said.
It takes more than strength to be in the act of physical creativity, so suggests ‘Vitality’ (wood, 2018) by Babatunde.
Perhaps inspired by the sculptor’s highly successful ‘Possibilities’ series, ‘Vitality’ derives its resplendence from the spiral form in which the human body is applied to display creative expression of physical and mental wellness. Also in ‘Harmony’, the sculptor blends his skill with natural diversity of wood.
Masquerades are perhaps among the most attractive themes for artists in this part of the world. But the capacity of every artist to bring freshness makes much difference, so explains ‘In The Spirit’, (acrylic on textured canvas, 2018) by Nmesirionye. A portrait titled ‘Realm’ also shows another side of the artist’s palette.
Osiemi’s strokes of abstract expressionism are gradually returning to the Lagos art space after a long break.
He was in Lagos three years ago for his solo exhibition titled ‘We Wear the Mask’, shown at Signature Gallery, Ikoyi. And now he comes back featuring in Infinite Treasures with works such as ‘Interaction’ and ‘Passage To A New Dawn’.
Whatever effect the full moon has on streetscape is perhaps more appreciated when viewed through the bird’s eyes or drone shot.
This much Olaku’s smooth brushing captures in ‘Lunar Watch’ (oil on canvas, 2018), an aerial view painting of a slum settlement, where the moonlighting coalesces with artificial street spotlight to generate a poetic scenery.
His other works for the show is ‘Twilight’, a dusk, but darkened depiction of the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos.
Again, Odogwu strips metal of its natural texture in ‘Towards the Festival’ (welded metal, 2018) by adding painterly touch as spots of figures to generate crowd effect.
Yes, in real term, the natural metal still dominates, but a few of the painted figures – in perception – loudly outshines the brownish metal.
The Lagos Central Business District’s (CBD) mixed odd of multi-billion naira corporate headquarters and slums is replicated by Nwokolo in ‘Trajectory of Sub-Saharan Empire’ (oil on textured canvas, 2018).
The ego of a city that prides itself as Africa’s fifth largest economy is put to shred in Nwokolo’s painting that truly depicts disorganised urbanisation: a unruly yellow commercial tricycle and buses, as well as relics of unplanned city slums in the foreground of skyline filled with high rise corporate offices. From his ‘Oju’ series comes ‘Adaeze’, a bright skin portrait of a lady.
Known for injecting sarcasm or satire into his ‘afro pop art’, Tantua takes a sense of humour to the realm of the under-privileged children who proclaim ‘We Found Joy’ (acrylic on metal sheet, 2018).
The work, which the artist claims is his new technique, celebrates the ingenuity of poor children in devising means of happiness in spite of survival challenges. He is also showing ‘Rest’, another acrylic on metal sheet.
Curated by Olaku and Odogwu, Infinite Treasures 2018, according them, continues the group’s tradition of producing works that have “infinite value” in art appreciation. Individually, the exhibiting artists, Olaku argued, “are well tested.”
From its ‘Distinction’ years till date, nearly all the exhibited artists are members of Guild of Professional Fine Artists of Nigeria (GFA), even though the show has no direct connection to the guild.
Perhaps getting more non-GFA members participate in Infinite Treasures would get the concept out of the shadow of the professional body. Selection of exhibiting artists, Odogwu said, was never “deliberate” to favour more GFA members. The criteria, Babatunde explained is simply determined by the “quality of artists”.
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