Visual Explorators Arrive at Quintessence




Yinka Olatunbosun

A new movement is emerging in Lagos for the visual arts. Call the proponents, Visual Explorators, their latest body of works have arrived at Quintessence Gallery, Parkview Estate, Ikoyi where the exhibition opens on May 13.

Formed as a highly interactive group whose main purpose is to support knowledge, the members work within an integrated research culture. Led by Dr. Kunle Adeyemi, the visual explorators was established in 2014 as a movement wherein artists explore unusual media to create masterpieces.

Far from being a quick-money venture, the movement helps to create a sense of professionalism in the individual artist. Before this exhibition, an open-studio session was organised two years ago in Mushin where a handful of journalists were invited to have a first-hand experience of artists at work. It was like scrubbing-in at a theatre, littered with scissors, oxygen stands, multiple tubes and monitor. Instead of these details, Adeyemi’s studio in Mushin had an overwhelming splatter of paints, an array of wet brushes and fresh canvases.

Recently, Quintessence Gallery hosted the artists and a few journalists at a preview of the works for the show titled, Soulfulness. Here, the completed works of the studio-led research are on display. The list of participating artists include Dr Kunle Adeyemi, Olojo-Kosoko K., Tunde Oguntuyo, Biodun Okemakinde Aladegboungbe, Adetola Adenuga, Dayo Adeyemi, Isaac Joseph, Jimoh Luqman, Bashir Kalejaiye, Olusegun Oduyele and Hodonu Nathaniel. For art-centrics, the next three weeks will be satisfying as this rare collection of miniature and large paintings as well as sculptures offer images in deep etchings, watercolour, and mixed media.

For the young artists, preparing for the show was a training of sorts. They learnt to be patient and applied earnest efforts to make the best version of each piece. In the end, each artist submits three works for the show.

“Most artists place money above the professional ethics,” Dr. Adeyemi explained. “For them, the rejection always come. Basically, we are in the group as artists with the same philosophy of exploration of materials to synthesise our ideas. All of us are close to one studio. This group has been meeting for close to six years when we didn’t even have a clear ides of what we wanted to do. The time has come for such collaboration to encourage young artists. When we were growing up, it was easy to approach a gallery or the museum to showcase our works. But some of these young artist, despite their fantastic work and craft, do not have the same opportunities.”

The group survived some teething problems over the years particularly about meeting and it was imperative to impose some rules of engagement by mandating meeting attendance and preparing a code of conduct like a constitution. This Quintessence show is the third from the group.

“We have also had ‘Dialogue of Forms’ in Ebute Metta,” said Dr Adeyemi. “This is our third show. We were supposed to have done this since last year but Quintessence will examine the quality of works and set the date. Here you will see stylistic tendencies, different temperaments and thoughts. One thing that is common to all of us is the material exploration. Some of us have moved from print to mixed media and from printograph to printocast.”

Likewise, Aladegboungbe, who just arrived from Sweden where he was studying for a PhD, revealed that his works are a shift from his usual technique. He explored charcoal during his research work and his discovery led to the piece titled, “The Sweden Experience”. Adetola, a self-taught artist never learnt his techniques from the formal education setting but drew inspiration from his father who is a screen painter. His work, “Rhythm and Ecstasy” is a self-portrait painting where he has earphones plugged into her ears just as he usually does in reality. Adetola Adenuga’s large piece,”I am Beautiful” is a visual articulation of wood, foil, newspaper, shave of wood as well as cultural motifs.