Celebrating 25 Years of Empowering Emerging Artists

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Mary Ekah

Come November 12 to 19, at the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos, the African Art Resource Centre (AARC), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) dedicated to the promotion of Nigerian art and initiator of the annual Experience Nigeria Art Show, an annual exhibition of work by emerging Nigerian artists, will be celebrating its 25th year of creating opportunities for young artists in Nigeria.

The anniversary which has the theme, ‘Fresh Forward: Refreshing for Future’, will kick off on Saturday, November 12 with the African Art Award ceremony where personalities who have contributed enormously to the art industry will be rewarded with certificates, trophies, and cash prizes. The highlight of the award ceremony will be the presentation of the Gani Odutokun Award for excellence in art by the guest of hobour, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State.

The anniversary will also feature a seminar with focus on the future of Nigerian art and artists spearheaded by the honourable Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde. The event will have the UNESCO Human Living Treasure, Prof. Bruce Onokbrakpeya as father of the day and will feature over 100 artworks of various media by over 150 artists from all over Nigeria.

Chairman, Board of Trustees, AARC and initiator of the Experience Nigeria Art Show Award, Mr. Oladele Olaopa, said, “We started the Experience Nigeria Art Show and Awards in 1991, so we want to celebrate that 25th anniversary this year in a big way. We have invited all the artists that have been exhibiting with us over the years from when we started till last year. So out of these artists, we will pick the best to exhibit their works for this 25th anniversary and we have chosen the theme, ‘Fresh Forward: Refreshing for Future”, for this celebration.’

Olaopa revealed further that the exhibition will cover works from as many years as possible and will be bringing artists together for a show billed to hold from November 12-19.

“This will be our 25th edition and God has been faithful because we have been very consistent right from the start. Every year we give opportunity to any artist to showcase his/her work as long as the work is of standard, you bring it to the exhibition and we show it without collecting a penny from you. We have done this for hundreds of artists. Now we are 25 and we want to bring together all the artists that have benefited from this event. So we are going to choose from this group of artists who have exhibited with us for the last 25 years, so we are going to choose artists in different year from 1991 till last year. Our theme for the celebration is ‘Refreshing for the Future’. We want to encourage artists to look forward to the future despite the economy hardship and simply look forward to a better future”, Olaopa said.

“We have invited all our artists over the years for them to send in their works and this month is the deadline for submission. We are going to select the best works from amongst them for the anniversary exhibition. And we are looking at about over a hundred artists spread over the years for the show,” he added.

Stressing further on the importance of the award ceremony, Olaopa said, “To feature in this anniversary ceremony is an award ceremony we tag, ‘African Arts Award’, where we reward people who have contributed tremendously to the art industry. These include the Lifetime Achievement Award named after Prof. Bruce Onokbrakpeya, who is going to hand over the prize to the winner. We also have Sponsor Of The Year Award, Journalist Of The Year Award, Art Teacher of the Year Award, and Gani Oduntokun Excellent in Art Award, an award that goes to the best work of art, amongst others.“