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Ikpakronyi unveils Post COVID-19 vision for NGA, artists

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Ikpakronyi

As economic and social activities gradually pick up after months of lockdown, the art and culture sector is equally ready to continue from where it had stopped in the wake of COVID-19 Pandemic.

For the National Gallery of Art (NGA), its Acting Director General, Dr. Simon O. Ikpakronyi, has said he is fully prepared to run with the remaining programmes scheduled for the year while adhering strictly to the safety protocols as enunciated by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

On assumption of office in 2019, Ikpakronyi had expressed willingness to change the narratives in NGA through collaboration with stakeholders in the sector. One year after, he has succeeded in executing most of the programmes as earlier projected.

Through a publication titled, National Gallery of Art: 12 Months in the Saddle, the D.G highlighted his achievements in office as well as framework for next line of actions.

But those plans were temporarily put on hold as the country experienced total lockdown of activities.

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However, the DG recently announced that NGA would execute even more programmes before the end of the year. Some of the listed programmes include, National Symposium on Nigerian Art, Stakeholders Forum, National Visual Art Competition, Art Teachers Exhibition and Rainbow Art: Unlocking Creativity.

There are also, Lagos Quarterly Art Exhibition. “I had talked about exhibiting the art works in NGA’s collection at the Aina Onabolu Gallery, Iganmu; Lagos State. The quarterly art exhibition will not only serve as avenue to showcase some of the works to the public but expose them to fresh air for their healthy state. Modalities have been put in place for that to take off.”

Also, NGA will honour some prominent figures in visual arts through publication of their achievements and exhibition of their works. They are Aina Onabolu, Ben Enwonwu and Clara Ugbodaga-Ngu.

“This is the first time three of them will be brought together in a single publication for people to read and appreciate what they did. The book will be presented to the public in Lagos alongside the exhibition of some of their works,” Ikpakronyi said.

Others listed to be celebrated include, Elizabeth Olowu, Ellis Erimona, Kolade Oshinowo, Abayomi Barber as well as Osogbo artists.

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“NGA will be in Osogbo, Osun State, to unveil the unique works of the Osogbo artists who were influenced by Ulli Beier and his wife, Georgina. Recently, there have been celebrations of Osogbo Art at 50, which caught NGA’s attention. Thus, it came out with the idea of celebrating and documenting them alongside their sponsor, Beier.

Well known Osogbo artists include, Jimoh Buraimoh, Muraina Oyelami, Adebisi Fabunmi, Adebisi Akanji, Taiwo Olaniyi Osuntoki (Prince Twins Seven Seven), Rufus Ogundele, Asiru Olatunde, Nike Davies-Okundaye and Jacob Afolabi.

Beyond these planned programmes and activities, Ikpakronyi decried lack of a standard gallery for exhibition of numerous artworks.

“The resultant effect of lack of functional gallery is that most of the art works in its national collection are kept in unconducive environment and artists have limited space to exhibit their works among the few private galleries around.”

To this effect, NGA is planning a retreat “billed to explore the possibility of having a temporary structure in the short term to serve as the National Gallery and a permanent structure in the long term.

“We are hoping that the National Assembly will make budgetary allocation for the edifice in the next budget cycle. We are also hopeful of getting a sizeable portion of land in the Central Business District for the proposed edifice.

“This will rub off positively on visual artists who will thern have alternative spaces to exhibit their works.

“If this is achieved, government will begin to earn revenue from NGA as fees would be charged visitors who come to view exhibitions,” he stated.

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