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‘Journeys’: An intriguing, timely exhibition by 10 African artists

‘Journeys’: An intriguing, timely exhibition by 10 African artists

If you consider the time we are in Africa, particularly in Nigeria now, you will discover that the continent is losing its youthful talents to the desperation for ‘greener grass’ abroad.

In Nigeria, the rate at which the citizens are leaving the country is alarming to the extent that the situation is now tagged ‘Japa Syndrome’.

This is the background for ‘Journeys’, an exhibition by 10 African artists; 9 Nigerians and 1 Zimbabwean.

The summer exhibition, which is being presented by SMO Contemporary Art, features 33 paintings, mixed media works and sculptures by 10 artists.

It will open to the public from July 9 – September 10, 2023, and is hosted and supported by The Wheatbaker, with drinks sponsored by the K Foundation.

There are many reasons to visit and see these exciting works by youthful, emerging and mid-career artists, including; Ademola Ojo, Aluu Prosper, Collins Abinoro, Ejiro Fenegal, Iniobong Usoro, Praise Sanni-Adeniyi, Prudence Chimutuwah, a Zimbabwean, Robert Oniha, Sanjo Lawal and Tumininu Gbebire.

First, the works explore the diverse questions people grapple with on their life journeys in search of meaning to life, issues and other things that interest them and others that life throws at them.

Another reason is because the artists, ranging in age from 23 to 39 bring youthful energy to their works as well as present a cross-generational analysis of critical themes such as cultural identity and rootedness, the spiritual and physical search for home, and humanity’s yearning for safety, abundance and a place for enfolding.

Of course, the exhibition is curated by Majid Biggar, a young curator at SMO Contemporary Art.

For more details on the works, Ademola Ojo, Aluu Prosper and Robert Oniha present experimental works that explore the roots of African cultural identity, traditions, and beliefs in the face of globalization.

Read also: Art and architecture converge at “The Absence of Melancholy” exhibition

On their part, Iniobong Usoro, Sanjo Lawal and Tuminunu Gbebire tackle critical socio-political and cultural questions arising from worldwide migration patterns due to diverse factors including climate change.

But Collins Abinoro and Ejiro Fenegal offer something different with their impressive sculptures creatively carved out of stone, marble dust, newspaper clippings and up-cycled cutlery.

The intrigue is the messages the artists pass with the works ranging from governance, identity, and spirituality.

From far away in Zimbabwe, Prudence Chimutuwah explores female empowerment within male-dominated spaces. Her three striking collage works were made out of decommissioned bank notes, snippets from magazines, and personal letters.

As expected, Praise Sanni-Adeniyi reflects the mental and emotional struggles people encounter on their physical and meta-physical journeys with her poignant surreal portraits.

Clearing the air on the theme ‘Journeys’, Majid Biggar, curator of the exhibition and manager at SMO Gallery, explained, “The idea of “Journeys” was inspired by the rising “Japa” brain drain we are experiencing in Nigeria and the fact that the entire world is seeing increasing migration pressure due to economic, environmental and political challenges.”

Speaking further, the curator and manager, said that the diversity of artworks and mediums presented serve as a mirror, reflecting people’s journeys, and provoking introspection on the paths they have traversed.

Once again, the exhibition opens today Sunday, July 9th and runs until September 10, 2023, at The Wheatbaker Hotel Ikoyi, the host of SMO Contemporary Art exhibitions for over a decade now.