Saving Lives through Art Auction

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Stories by Yinka Olatunbosun

Ekene Ngige, the artist and creative director, X-Animators, walked in on two reporters waiting for him at the Mydrim Gallery. Loaded with ideas, Ngige’s recent press preview of the series of work holds a promise for Nigerian women living with breast cancer. Titled, “It’s All About Eve’’, the show is of two-fold, that is, an exhibition and an auction of just one piece of painting named, “Breastfeeding”.

It’s what Ngige has been known for; charitable shows are his regular and he anticipated a good turn-out of art collectors at the gallery. While reflecting on what provoked these women-inspired pieces, Ngige recounted a personal story.

“My dad passed last year and my mother went through a lot for the burial ceremony. I had wanted to do something around women theme and encourage them. I have always done my art for charitable activities. That was how I got in touch with the cancer foundation and we agreed to an art auction,’’ he explained. His last solo show was held at the MMA2 with the theme, “Coffee Meets Art’’.

October is celebrated globally as the breast cancer awareness month. To lend his support to this noble cause, Ngige is giving out all the proceeds of the art auction to cancer patients through a partnering foundation, Cancer Aware Nigeria.
On the technique used in engaging the audience in healthy conversation about the state of human mind, Ngige informed this reporter that it is markedly different from the realism perspective he once explored.

“I was once a realistic painter but I later found it boring because people didn’t see much difference between realism and the real picture. I had to try something different; and I tried expressionism and all that. I adapted the style from an Italian artist, and it is called drift painting. The colours create the illusion of movement. In this technique, you let the colour flow by itself. The sketch of the image is there to guide you,’’ he revealed.

He also gave an insight into the subjects of his paintings and how they relate to the overall theme for the show.
“This one is ‘Emotional toll’. It tells about being consumed with a lot of pain and not willing to share it. There are so many women on the street that have this trait. The next one is “The mother of the motherless’’. It shows Mama Ekundayo. The woman was not wealthy but she struggled to raise motherless children and some of them grew up and became successful. She lived in Ibadan,’’ he said.

Other works at the show include “Abuse”, “Hopeful’’, “Still Hopeful’’ and “Pride of a father’’ which the artist described as the best gift a woman can give a man- a child. Of course, that sparked some creative arguments about what should really constitute the best gift from a woman to a man. After making a case for love, care and devotion, it was agreed that a child really is god’s gift.
The Director, Cancer Aware Nigeria, Tolulope Falowo underscored the importance of the art auction considering the staggering statistics on casualties in Nigeria.

“Globally cancer is on the increase however in developed countries, deaths are decreasing. This is because they have improved on prevention through early detection and better treatment but that is not the case in this part of the world. Most of our cancer cases are presented late at the hospitals. It is a non- profit organisation and we focus on detection and prevention.

“Our focus is on breast cancer and cervical cancer. We support indigent people who have cancer. October is the global breast cancer awareness month and we partnered with Ekene Ngige this year. We usually organise free screenings. The proceeds from the auction will go into the treatment of indigent cancer patients. We presently have a pool of women under our care either undergoing chemotherapy of radiotherapy,’’ she said,
The life-saving auction takes place on Friday, October 28 at Mydrim Gallery, Ikoyi which, incidentally, is the opening of the show that runs till November 12.