• Tuesday, December 05, 2023
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‘Joy’: Gathering of 21 art masters for creative rivalry


The Nigerian visual art landscape is about to witness the most anticipated exhibition of the year. From October 3 – November 17, 2023, about 21 veteran visual artists, all members of the Guild of Professional Artists of Nigeria, will be gathering in a unique group exhibition tagged ‘Joy’.

The exhibition, which holds at The Wheatbaker Hotel Ikoyi, Lagos, will feature at least two recent works by these masters across several media such as paintings, sculpture, mixed media, drawing, among others.

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The 21 established artists include; Abiodun Olaku, Abiodun Olaku, Abraham Uyovbisere, Ade Ogundimu, Aimufia Osagie, Alex Nwokolo, Ben Ibebe, Bunmi Babatunde, Diseye Tantua, Duke Asidere, Edosa Ogiugo, Emenike Ogwo, Fidelis Odogwu, Gbenga Offo, George Edozie, Gerry Nnubia, Joshua Nmesirionye, Kehinde Adewuyi, Norbert Okpu, Sam Ebohon, Tayo Quaye, Tola Wewe.

The exhibition, which is curated by Sandra Obiago, founder, SMO Contemporary Art and her team, takes viewers on a captivating journey through a multitude of sub themes, including environmental concerns, the state of the nation, cultural commentary, and tradition.

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The works individually and collectively reflect joy, the theme of the exhibition, as they bear testimonies to the joy that arises from the artistic process; a joy that is both valuable and hard-earned along the often solitary path of creativity.

Speaking on the reason the exhibition is a must-see at a media parley, which was held at The Wheatbaker Hotel over the week, Obiago, who joined virtually, noted it has been a long time Nigeria art scene witnessed such a gathering of veterans in the visual art sector.

According to her, through events, workshops, studio internships, and apprenticeships, these artists have taught and mentored generations of younger artists. They have exhibited their works in Nigeria and abroad, and have collectively made huge sacrifices and contributions to the development and growth of contemporary art in Africa.

Therefore, every lover of arts should avail self the opportunity to visit the hotel to see the exhibition.

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“We invite you to immerse yourself in the world of these accomplished artists from the Guild of Professional Artists of Nigeria, and we trust that their work will not only bring you joy but also foster a greater appreciation for this indispensable generation of artists, who have served as the cornerstone for many of today’s Nigerian contemporary artists,” she urged.

“We hope you enjoy these recent works by the Guild of Professional Artists of Nigeria, and trust that it creates some space and appreciation for an important generation of artists who have been vital generational bedrock for many of the young Nigerian contemporary artists”.

Speaking at the media parley, George Edozie, president, Guild of Professional Artists of Nigeria, noted that the guild is the most professional and revered art platform in Nigeria because of the accomplishments of the members, their commitment to the development of art and are well-respected personalities in the society.

The guild is not a cult, Edozie noted that it is only open to artists who are passionate about art and who live by their craft.

With all these going for the guild, Edozie invites the public to visit to see the exhibition as some of the best works ever created by an artist might be on display.

On his part, Paul Kavanagh, general manager, Wheatbaker Hotel Ikoyi, noted that since inception, the hotel has been the traditional home of exhibitions hosted by SMO Contemporary Art, and will continue to do so in support of Nigerian artists and the art sector at large.

He also commended the quality of works by the artists and assured that they would change the looks of the hotel’s interior décor and also would draw guests, some of whom might patronize the works at the end of the day.

Looking at some of the works in no particular order, Gerry Nubia’s The Time is Now and Light House are delightful and thought provoking pieces, amid passing salient messages.

Nubia’s mixed media works depict a group of people holding up candles to an all encompassing, suffocating darkness. Their heads are wrist watches, and the time is ticking. Whether it is metaphysical, metaphorical or political, these paintings touch the very raw nerve of our disillusioned polity.

Duke Asidere’s prophetic Pure Greed and The Death of Truth are dark abstract reflections of the fog, which has descended on us. Diseye Tantua’s afro-pop works tackle our national issues with street slang and humour, but through his satirical slogans, such as “shit money no dey smell”, rubs salt into our nation’s wounds.

Tayo Quaye’s painting depicts a clown holding a staff of office in one hand, while embracing a masquerade with the other, in full view a crowd of onlookers in the background. His Masquerade and the Clown painting is a masterful reaction to the theatrics we see in the political arena daily, not just in Nigeria but around the world.

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Another thematic being tackled in the Joy exhibition works is a commentary on the environment, where the effects of desertification and flooding wreak havoc on rural communities. In the heavy impasto works by Emenike Ogwo, he depicts Fulani herdsmen boldly grazing their migratory flocks by forging unnatural pathways through densely populated areas. In the Flooded Area, we see shadows of desperate people seeking refuge on overcrowded canoes, while the smoke rises over a flooded landscape. Both works touch on the insecurity and misery suffered by vulnerable populations in Nigeria, Libya and across the continent, experiencing devastating environmental death and insecurity due to extreme weather.

We see intertwined lovers finding solace in each other’s embrace in Gbenga Offo’s Two Reclining Figures, powerful portraits presented in his signature cubist style; in the painting The Quartet, Offo reminds us of the famous Shakespeare’s quote from Twelfth Night, “If music be the food of love, play on; give me excess of it” as his musicians represent the solace, melancholy and joy we experience through music.

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Aimufia Osagie traces scenes of family life from “Conjugal Bliss” right through to the birth of children and a mother’s love.

The final cluster of landscapes highlight the city at dusk, as depicted in Abiodun Olakun’s signature style, depicting a densely populated urban slum, Makoko, an impoverished city on stilts, surrounded by the polluted water of the Lagos mega-city, shimmering in the evening twilight, while a mist of burning fire rises on the horizon. Josh Nmesirionye’s unusual new Galactic Euphoria body of abstract paintings, and Ade Ogundimu, blue Moonlight painting in blue, his response to Jackson Pollock, both draw our perspective heavenward, exploring the wonder and vastness of the creative universe.

Joy exhibition holds from October 3 – November 17, 2023, at The Wheatbaker Hotel Ikoyi Lagos.