Wanderlust… In the spirit of Nigeria-Germany Art
When a theme on migration brings six artists into a common space, the dynamics of dual work-experience and multi-culturalism in the creative profession are profoundly expressed. The gathering of five artists and one photographer brings rarely seen works of some of the artists into wider viewership, which is currently showing as a group art exhibition titled Wanderlust at The Wheatbaker, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Either in dual citizenship or experience working in Nigeria and Germany, each artist fits into the Wanderlust concept of the adopted German word ‘wandern’, as a coinage, to articulate people’s interest in moving from one place to another. Chidi Kwubiri, Dilomprizulike (a.k.a Junkman of Africa), Emeka Udemba, Numero Unoma, Yetunde Ayeni-Babaeko and Jimmy Nwanne are the Wanderlust artists.
If you were among those who grew grey hairs and had sleepless nights when Dilomprizulike used his art of junk to stress resilient relevance of the Avant-Garde on the Lagos conservative art space some 10 years ago, there is something to cheer this time around about the artist’s work. In Wanderlust, the controversial Junkman of Africa is showing paintings (on canvas?) Yes, paintings!
In pseudo-drawing form, the paintings radiate freshness on a surface that looks like un-primed or organic canvas. But the artist, who is known for his provocative installations, still retains his well-established focus in thematic context. Some of the works titled ‘Matilda Series,’ he says “are interpretations of my performance.”
Kwubiri’s mastery of pointillism painting technique shares the artist’s walls with his sculpture, installation and drawing. Remember Kwubiri’s display of studio tools in one of his past exhibitions? Yes, he appears to be making a series of it, so suggests a pair of shorts with spots of paints and placed on the floor to complete a wall hanging at the lobby of Wheatbaker. It depicts his thought about wandering within the context of the artist’s Germany experience. But on the work titled ‘Transition,’ he says, the concept “is evolving from the extension of my studio.” From his paintings comes ‘Priceless,’ a statement on basic education represented by a youth with layers of books balanced on the head.
“Let’s hawk books and not wares,” Kwubiri warns. A photo artist with dual Nigerian-German citizenship, Ayeni-Babaeko brings her connection of the two countries into the exhibition. Whatever she missed in Germany, the Lagos-based photographer probably found in Nigeria, so explains ‘Reconstruction,’ a three-textured composition.
Showing a set of monochrome as well as colour – in the modeling and fashion genre identity – Ayeni-Babaeko, in ‘Reconstruction’ combines special-effect, the central figure and plain background to generate semi-silhouette portrait.
She recalls how the mention of the exhibition “takes me immediately back to where I grew up, in Germany.”
Udemba, whose works in the last 10 years have been focusing on art at the grassroots – working with the Goethe Institut, Lagos – continues on that line, but this time with a focus on immigration, and still about the young people, using the social media as a pedestal. Expressed in portraits, he notes the mixtures of many factors that propel the “direction of the younger ones going into the future.”
Unoma whose movement from Germany to Britain, Nigeria and forth releases her all-inclusive visual expressionism. Her work connects people and places. She states, “Historically we are all connected,” citing the Portuguese heritage of certain aspects of Lagos, Nigeria, for example.
Also based in Germany, Nwanne, in some of his works, depicts shipwreck in analogous expression. “The ship symbolizes one of man’s technological accomplishments, a bridge and a means of travel.
Supported by Deutsche Bank, Still Earth Holding, the German Consulate of Lagos, ELALAN, and Louis Guntrum Wines, Wanderlust, says Sandra Mbanefo Obiago “is a two-sided coin rich in the issue of movements.” The curator notes that the gathering “is more timely in the period of summer when people move around.”