The catalogue for the group exhibition has a plea tone of an appeal letter with the theme, â€œDear Nigeria, Dear Friends.â€™â€™ The plea comes from the place of giving to the less privileged in the community, a thought that snowballed into a series of project and then a group exhibition that features master artists such as Fidelis Odogwu, George Edozie, Alex Nwokolo, Gerry Nnubia, Francis Uduh and Abraham Uyovbisere.
The two-week long show at Omenka Gallery is indeed a fundraiser initiative of the non-governmental organization, Life Foundation in collaboration with Alliance Francaise for charitable cause. Their interest-the economically disadvantaged community in Makoko has been on the receiving end of the humanitarian project that targets school aged children of the community.
The LIFE Foundation had been involved in training teachers in this community and rebuilding schools. The Foundation has a record of also facilitating two medical missions, equipping a school library, distributing teaching aids and books.
The President and Founder, LIFE Foundation, Elvira Salleras, is a lawyer, an art collector and an artist. She won prizes in art throughout her secondary school at Queens College, Enugu. She was also a member of a dance troupe as a student. So, veering into art to support the needy just comes naturally. â€œArt is in my heart and in my expression. I help young people to design their interiors. I donâ€™t think you need to be rich to live in beauty and transform your space,â€™â€™ she began.
As an interior art enthusiast, she appreciates the value of visual arts and the influence that established artists can wield in the lives of the young. In fulfilment of the literacy, integration and formal education foundation on which her organization was founded, this show which opened on November 25 will make the proceeds at the show the funds in support of the vulnerable children.
Some of the works treat subject matters at the heart of Makoko residents. One of them is Edozieâ€™s Urban Housing, a mixed media piece that is reminiscent of the concern about the lot of the displaced persons in waterfront communities in Lagos.
Also captivating is Nwokoloâ€™s artistic rendition of Balogun Market in the oil paintings. Uyovbisereâ€™s â€œDowntown GRAâ€™â€™ series seemed like an ironical picture of Makoko where- in one piece- a woman, with a baby strapped on her back, paddles away to fend for her family. Odogwu brings welded metal to the show with his â€œSocial Clubâ€™â€™ as he explores the metaphorical relationship between African lore and contemporary politics.
For Salleras, the show is a product of a partnership that she is optimistic about.
â€œThis is our first year with Alliance FranÃ§aise,â€ she explained. Hopefully we will keep working together and perhaps next year, we will see some works of children from the target community. But this exhibition will serve as the source of funds for the project.â€™â€™