The Masters’ Pieces

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Yinka Olatunbosun
The Guild of Professional Fine Artists in Nigeria recently captured the attention of art collectors in Lagos with a week and a day long exhibition titled Catharsis. As expected, wine flowed freely as thoughts conveyed in colours and different media lined the walls inside Terra Kulture, a cultural hub in Victoria Island, Lagos.

Naturally, everyone seemed curious to see how the works on display collectively reflect the central theme. As it is in theatre, catharsis implies the purgation of emotion and this was corroborated by the president of the guild, Olusegun Adejumo in his opening remarks in the catalogue.

“These works,” he explains, “vary from socio-political to philosophical, esoteric and poetic but in all, these works speak from the heart of the artists with passion, thus catharsis. Catharsis is a narrative of deep emotions with each artist using his or her own language and expression using the preferred materials and medium.”

A handful of the 24 participating artists were in attendance when the show opened on September 3. The show had been organised to bring new insights into the creative studio activities of the members of the GFA, their experiments, works and how they affect art collectors and art enthusiasts at large.

The participating artists include Abraham Uyovbisere, Alex Nwokolo, Bimbo Adenugba, Diseye Tantua, Duke Asidere, Ebenezer Akinola, Edosa Ogiugo, Emenike Ogwo, Fidelis Eze Odogwu, Francis Uduh, George Edozie, Gerry Nnubia, Joshua Nmesirionye, Kehinde Sanwo, Lekan Onabanjo, Norbert Okpu, Mufutau Apooyin, Olusegun Adejumo, Osagie Aimufia, Sam Ebohon, Tayo Quaye, Tola Wewe, Toni Okujeni and Reuben Ugbine.

Perhaps it was apt to begin the view with emotions expressed in oil and canvas. Uyovbisere’s Reflection Series show female figures in different temperament. In this first piece, a woman is pictured in a traumatic or post traumatic state with images of other women at the background. In the second piece, the women are in motion, sporting head-coverings that easily identify them with a particular religion. These pieces bear the artists thoughts on women as they deal with socio-cultural ethos and are closely related to his earlier works that reflected feminine elegance.

For Nwokolo, whose works had been featured in over 50 group exhibitions, his preference was for oil on textured canvas in making artistic details of his landscape and underlying philosophy. His works are markedly different in the use of media when compared with Adenugba’s landscape paintings titled, “Serenity” and “Evening Mood”. His images are believable with the screaming realism in the shadows of immobile automobiles, sunset and evening skyline.

Tantua’s pop art pieces are rich in the blend of sketches, colours and readable text. His “Blackout” eloquently spoke against the poor state of infrastructure that ought to be necessary conditions for daily survival. The overlapping images clearly show the interconnectivity of these challenges that have lowered the standard of living in many third world countries.
Just when we thought the “evening talk” was over, then Asidere’s “Evening Blues’’ was sighted. In Lagos, it is believed that the city never sleeps. But anyone who has encountered the dangers of the night will relate to the gloomy expression in this minimalist painting.

Akinola bring a renewal of interest in folkloric tradition of the African with his pieces titled, ‘’Balogun Agba II” and “The Seeker II”. He had spent his studio time documenting historic figures with loads of commissioned art projects in his portfolio. These include the portraits of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Abdulsalam Abubakar and Olusegun Obasanjo.

Ogwo brings a rather edgy touch to landscape painting in his “City scape” and “Street Market II” that shows the various aspects of urban life in a city. While Odogwu’s metallic statement drew curious eyes and cameras, the king of metal and prolific artist had sustained his collectors’ attention over the years with his innate ability to transform metal to a seemingly flexible piece.
Apooyin’s painting could pass for some product of digital photography what with the verisimilitude in the portrayed ripples playing on the surface of the work. Apoonyin knows his ripples like the back of his hand, having been engrossed with aquatic paintings in most of his works.

And for those who regularly visit Freedom Park on Broad street, Sanwo’s “Lagos Rockers” is a reminder of the architectural juxtaposition of the walls that showed the past and present significance of this cultural centre.