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Olaku, others in DeFiAnCe against COVID-19 pandemic

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A painting titled ‘Sources of Peace (series), oil on canvas, 14 x 22 inches, 2020.

In its debut art show, a new entrant, Breath Of Hope Africa Gallery, has assembled 20 artists, from across two generations.

Currently showing virtually as DeFiAnCe: Creativity In Times Of Crisis, the exhibition, according to curator and director of the gallery, Adebimpe Adebambo, celebrates the visual stories told by 20 Nigerian artists “from the depths of their hearts.”

The theme, Adebambo explained, captures how the artists expressed themselves in the year of pandemic. Also, the year of COVID-19 pandemic, coincidentally, gave birth to the new gallery.

“The 20 artists represent 2020, the year we would never forget, when several people had made wonderful plans for and that some would rather ‘cancel’ and erase from their calendars,” Adebambo, who is also among the exhibiting artists, stated. “Their works inspired me to organise and curate the first virtual exhibition for my new Breath Of Hope Africa Gallery, which I also started during this pandemic.”

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Abiodun Olaku, Edosa Ogiugo, Adekusibe Odunfa, Bolaji Ogunwo, Ibe Ananaba, Adebanji Alade, Adebambo, Austin Uzor, Akindele John Damilola, Brian Olaolu Wilson, Elizabeth Ekpetorson, Femi Morakinyo and Godwin Akpan are among the exhibiting artists. Others include Mala Iwa Gbado Ikaleku, Matthias Aragbada, Omotoyosi Ogunlende, Olamide Ogunade, Sylvester Aguddah, Tolulope Olamide Ajayi and Tolu Mustapha.

Adebambo’s curatorial thoughts go further to get each artist show three works. The total of 60, she explained, “represent the years Nigeria gained independence from the British colonialists.”

Sectionalised into three rooms, the exhibition, which opened, significantly, on June 12 Democracy Day, is showing till September 12, 2020.

Suddenly, the lockdown seems to be proliferating virtual art shows, suggesting that a possible saturation of the digital space in visual culture. To separate her show from the flood of virtual shows populating the digital outlet, Adebambo has brought in what could be described as the missing gap in the traditional gallery.

Most art galleries in Lagos hardly extend their exhibitions beyond two weeks, a situation that always shortens wide viewership.

“The virtual exhibition is dynamic because along the course of the three months duration, different rooms in the gallery will be revealed to the public on the social media platforms,’ the curator said adding that the first room with 16 of the 60 artworks and with the sub theme of ‘Emotions’, opened on Friday June 12, 2020.”

Basically, the theme, Adebambo noted, is based on the resilience of Nigerians in confronting complex situations. “As the country grapples with the weight of so many problems and challenges, the exhibition is a reminder that the creative industry is the new oil and that artists document history.”

Adebambo said some Nigerian artists, whose works she follows on Instagram, inspired the show. “These artists created beautiful artworks and posted them on social media during the trying times when many were numb, confused and generally disoriented.”

She said, “it takes a lot to be creative, even when things are normal,” and more challenging in the era of a pandemic.

In extending its scope, the exhibition is on different platforms such as Facebook in a virtual experience of the artworks, videos of the first room in the Breath Of Hope Africa Gallery Youtube and Instagram pages. The video, Adebambo explained, “is different from the virtual reality experience which can only be seen on the Facebook page.”

The Virtual Reality is done by Kugali Media, a company telling African stories through comics, animation, augmented and virtual reality.

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