Yinka Olatunbosun

As the folk pop artist, 9ice once sang, “Photocopy Ko easy”, duplication is never as easy as it seems. When a collective known as Visual Printmakers Association of Nigeria (VPAN) recently held a press preview of their body of works at Quintessence Gallery, Ikoyi, they echoed the same sentiment: only an artist can replicate his own works.

The artists in VPAN are drawn from an existing organisation, Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA) and they have varied skills on and off the canvas. Yinka Akingbade, Segun Oduleye, Aderinsoye Aladegboungbe, Etim Bassey, Prof. Salubi Onakuye and Dr. Kunle Adeyemi were present at the preview which gave a background to s show scheduled to open on October 28, which is the Annual Print Exhibition Day. The show with the theme, First Rhythm, will feature works from 30 artists.

The participating artists had been drawn from Bruce Onobrakpeya’s Harmattan School, where artists are essentially highly experimental, undocumented techniques evolve and ideas are shared and synchronised. Some of the techniques deployed in the making of some of the works in the show include plastography, lithography, etching, serigraphy, plastocasts and relief. The President, VPAN, Prof Salubi Onakuye revealed that the association was formed at the 15th Harmattan Workshop “based on cross fertilising ideas.” The collective is made up of two kinds of artists, the academic and the full-time studio artists.

Between 1963 and 1964, Rudolf Harold Van Rossen, a Dutch artist introduced Professor Bruce Onobrakpeya to the graphic method of intaglio printmaking in workshops. Since then, Onobrakpeya has continued to investigate Urhobo folklores through which his works unfold. His effort has spurned on a vast number of printmakers.

One of the partcipating artists, Adeyinka Akingbade, described as a mixed media artist, printmaker and a photographer, revealed that he started printmaking when he was with Dr. Adeyemi. At the completion of his education at Yaba College of Technology, he concentrated on mixed media. But after his art residency at the Harmattan School in Printmaking, he began developing his own style. For this show, he promised to showcase historical figures in monotype African print motifs.

For Dr Kunle Adeyemi, the show will certainly be an Eye-opener as new areas in printmaking will be explored.
“The Harmattan Workshop trains people to look at wider areas such as 3-dimension in printmaking. For instance, plastography came as a result of experiment by Nigerian artists and you will not find that word in art lexicons,” he said. Revered artists such as Bruce Onabrakpeya, Olu Amoda, Tayo Quail will be part of the show which will last for a month. Dr. Adeyemi also added that the famous Picasso also explored printmaking in his career.

“Printmaking creates employment because you can’t do it alone. It doesn’t limit the variety of media that can be used. With it, Nigerian art is contributing to the global artscape. Once a work can be replicated to look like the original, it is print. It comes with certain ethics, therefore, not everything qualifies as printmaking,” he said.
He observed that most art schools are opening up printmaking units to facilitate such projects. For Aladegboungbe, the early 2000 was a turning point in his career as he began to experiment with Plastography, doing in-depth research into it.

For VPAN President, “if you can’t afford painting, printmaking is here.” He revealed that there are plans to organise printmaking auctions in future.