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Modern Matriarchs: Homage to gifted African women in Visual Art

Modern Matriarchs: Homage to gifted African women in Visual Art

Once again, the women are calling. The clarion call is for all lovers of visual art, supporters and defenders of women and creative minds to gather in support of their own at a very unique art exhibition. Entitled ‘Modern Matriarchs: Charting New Frontiers in Art’, the all-female exhibition, holds from February 17 – March 9, 2024 at Windsor Gallery, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The show is the first for the year at Windsor, a contemporary gallery, which opened in Lagos last quarter of 2023, amid galleries in Abuja and Abidjan. Most importantly, the inspiring exhibition, which features eight female artists from four countries in Africa, pays homage to the indomitable spirit of women who have left an indelible mark on the canvas of visual art. It is curated by Richard Vedelago and Seun Alli as well as explores the profound contributions made by female artists who have not only embraced but redefined the landscape of new artistic forms. Merging contemporary artists of international repute whose aesthetic practices have bold expressions and innovative techniques, the exhibition includes paintings and works on paper by Chuma Adam (South Africa), Samuella Graham (Ghana), Chinaza Nkemka (Nigeria), Osaru Obaseki (Nigeria), Gbonjubola Obatuyi (Nigeria), Chigozie Obi (Nigeria), Simhle Plaatjies (South Africa), and Kristine Tsala (Cameroon).

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The selection of the artists across the continent, according to Yoko Ngube, manager, Windsor Gallery Lagos, is a reflection of the pan-African view of the gallery and the need to impact the continent-wide art industry.

Meanwhile, the term “matriarch” conjures images of strength, wisdom, and leadership within familial contexts. Throughout the exhibition, works by Chinaza Nkemka stresses the awareness a contemporary woman achieves through subjective reflection of her body and life experiences. Osaru Obaseki merges abstraction and figuration with a synergy of materials (sand and acrylic) as a way of also binding ancient and modern civilisations. Gbonjubola Obatuyi exhibits works that give thought to both real and constructed notions of what being a woman entails – a laborious process that merges traditional fabric weaving methods with acrylic drips and pixelated painting techniques. The figurative paintings by Chigozie Obi, who is also based in Nigeria, emphasize conversations with self, others and the society at large. Her work reflects her profound fascination with the enduring dialogues about human life, mental health, beauty standards and more. Other artists on view who work outside of Nigeria also add their voices and analogies through both ambitious abstract and figurative compositions. Chuma Adam’s deft use of abstract forms challenges themes of visibility or lack thereof, as she attempts to narrate the intangible complexities of navigating one’s path. The portraits by Samuel Graham are an ode to her pixelated signature style reminiscent of her graphic design background. She skillfully combines realism, abstraction and surrealism to explore themes like women’s experiences and connection with nature. Simhle Plaatjies’ large scale paintings are a source of inspiration – often stenciling elements of nature onto the work in combination with features comparable with those of a bull. Overall, her works are an invitation for people to connect with their own inner divinity. Kristine Tsala’s new visual character, “the giraffe woman” is colourful, elegant and bold yet unassuming. She takes charge of her socio-political struggles; acts as a sentinel for others and primarily serves as an artistic identity for the artist. Kristine’s practice highlights themes of difference and self-acceptance but most of all celebrates the individual woman. As you navigate the works of “Modern Matriarchs” you will embark on a visual journey that transcends geographical boundaries and temporal constraints. The showcased artworks, carefully curated from diverse corners of the globe, reflect the nuanced perspectives of each artist. From bold strokes that defy conformity to intricate detailing that invites contemplation, the pieces collectively narrate a story of resilience, creativity, and an unyielding commitment to artistic exploration.

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Speaking of the exhibition, the manager of Windsor Gallery Lagos noted that the exhibition title itself, “Modern Matriarchs” invites contemplation on the role of women not only as creators of art but as architects of new possibilities within the art world. Each artwork becomes a brushstroke in a larger narrative, echoing the voices of those who have dared to challenge, reimagine, and define modern values on their terms. In “Charting New Frontiers in Art” the sub-theme of the exhibition, the gallery, according to her, aims to showcase the ways in which these artists have expanded the boundaries of creative expression. “Through diverse mediums, techniques, and subjects, they have ventured into unexplored territories, leaving an enduring impact on the trajectory of contemporary art”. In view of the above, Windsor Gallery Lagos invites art lovers and the general public to visit the gallery and join it to pay tribute to these visionaries, acknowledging their pivotal roles in shaping the visual art discourse and inspiring generations to come. The gallery described the exhibition as “a celebration of the resilience of women who continue to shape and influence the artistic landscape, inviting us all to rethink our perceptions and appreciate the rich tapestry they have woven”.

Once again, ‘Modern Matriarchs: Charting New Frontiers in Art’, runs from February 17 – March 9, 2024 at Windsor Gallery, Victoria Island, Lagos.