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Unveiling BIC art masters from Africa

By Margaret Mwantok
01 March 2020   |   9:06 am
Great ideas do not grow easily in every mind. They are basically products of innate thinking — the art of conceiving something original or unusual. When the creative idea is developed into a great innovation such is celebrated, sometimes, as masterpiece.

Great ideas do not grow easily in every mind. They are basically products of innate thinking — the art of conceiving something original or unusual. When the creative idea is developed into a great innovation such is celebrated, sometimes, as masterpiece.

This clearly explains why leading global stationery brand, BIC, poised to consolidate its goal of churning out new masters across Africa, expanded the scope of its yearly arts competition to make it the first continent-wide contest.

Tagged, BIC Art Master Africa, the competition was limited to South Africans but with the successes the programme recorded in the Rainbow nation, the brand owners decided to include other African countries. So, with the expansion, artists residing in other parts of Africa last year had opportunity to submit their entries for this competition.

Fully imbued with that passion to celebrate creativity in the country on Friday, February 21, the brand decided to recognise and celebrate three Nigerians who were among the top 10 entries in the competition.

The competition, which aims to foster local creativity, called for African talents to create artwork using basically the BIC ball pen as their medium.

Over 5,200 entries were submitted from 2,400 artists with each submitting two pieces of art on the competition’s site, for a chance to be titled BIC Art Master Africa champion.

Interestingly, over half of the works came from Nigeria. The platform was also open for a month to the public to vote for their favourite artwork.

The BIC Art Master competition was first held in South Africa in 2017, then it expanded to include all African countries in 2019. The competition saw 5,242 entries submitted by more than 2,400 artists from 47 African countries on the competition’s dedicated website The competition had 790 pieces of artwork submitted by 344 Nigerian artists last year.

The BIC Art Master champion, Benin artist Fatou Aboudou, was selected by a jury of experts for his half-man half-lion portrait ‘Black Lion’ and was awarded the grand prize of USD1,000 USD (N362,500) and a personalized gallery to showcase his artwork.

The competition’s champion was selected by a panel of experts including Ghanaian artist and sculptor, Enam Bosokah; professor and designer, Hein Liebenberg; renowned artists and interior designer, Valerie Manouvrier; professional curator and art advisor, Herve Mikaeloff; and avid art enthusiast and collector and member of BIC’s founding family, Geoffroy Bich.

Jamiu Hassan’s creative piece, Ethiopian Tribe, was ranked as number five. Blue Boy by Oscar Ukonu showed a true mastery of technique and was ranked sixth while Eze’s Tulugo Ebuka’s colorful artwork, Ojuelegba, (the hustler), ranked in seventh place. In addition, Nigerian artist, David Olatoye, was selected as BIC Art Master Africa’s ‘Lucky Influencer’, for being a top supporter of the competition and posting about it on social platforms using the #BICArtMaster hashtag.

Commenting on the success of the competition, Guillaume Groues, Area Development Manager- West Africa, said: “We are delighted with the response we received from artists around Africa, particularly Nigeria. We were very impressed with the quality of work and the talent we’ve seen throughout this competition.

The work presented by the Nigerian artists are truly remarkable as they showcase creativity and a master of technique, and we congratulate them on being among our top 10 submissions. BIC has a longstanding history with art, and we are proud to have established a platform that helps recognize and shed a stronger light on artistic talent in Africa.”

Ikorodu -based Jamiu Hassan who ranked fifth in the competition said it was his parents that encouraged him to take part in the competition. He was inspired to use BIC pens from the works of some of his Instagram mentors because he wanted to be like them. Since he started using BIC pens, he confirmed that he truly enjoys it as an art medium.

Oscar Ukonu, a Lagos based architect and artist who placed 6th in the competition, said that his field of study, architecture, and arts overlap to a great extent, with art playing a leading role in sharpening his architectural designs. Eze Tulugo Ebuka, who ranked in seventh place said that he switched to BIC ballpens after his pencil box had been stolen. That incident made him discover that he was indeed a pen artist.

David Olatoye, who was picked as the “Lucky Influencer” said that when working in the dark, BIC ballpoint pens draws out a desired light that help him express what is within in a fashion that is loud and bold. All four artists commended BIC on the competition and confirmed that BIC Art Master Africa was a strong platform for them to showcase their work and they hope that by participating in this competition they will be able to further their art career.

BIC’s connection to art spans more than 60 years. The brand regularly celebrates the creativity and originality of artists who find great inspiration in creating masterpieces using BIC’s Stationery, Lighter, and Shaver products. BIC works with artists, designers, curators, and institutions around the world on creative projects and expositions.

The brand recently BIC hosted in Paris an unprecedented exhibition with 250 BIC collection works by internationally recognized and upcoming artists, which captured the art community and took its audience on an immersive display.

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