Yinka Olatunbosun

Quintessence Gallery is hosting an exciting exhibition, titled Beyond Functions II. It is the second edition of the exhibition of pottery and ceramics aimed at authenticating these pieces as art forms. They are the works of two artists: Djakou Kassi Natalie (Cameroon) and Ato Arinze (Nigeria).

The first edition of this exhibition, sponsored by Alliance Française, was held at the Moorhouse Hotel in Ikoyi, Lagos. Ato Arinze, who met with journalists during the press preview, explained the difference between ceramics and the sculptures. According to him, the firing process makes the distinction. There is specific temperature for every kind of ceramics and the artist is skilled at determining the right temperature.

Arinze is also showing colourful works for the first time. And these colours are furnished with meanings. For instance, his Grey and Red series, made up of six works, is a social commentary on the lawlessness reported in various parts of the country.

“These colours symbolise the challenges in the country. There is domestic violence, gender-based violence, herdsmen’s killings and so on,” he said. “Grey represents mourning and Red represents bloodshed.’’

His works include Africa Series and “Awake”. One of the Pan-African pieces is shaped after the African map, making the continent’s collective issue a front-burner topic.

“We have been ignorant for so long,” Arinze explained as he showed another piece titled, “Mental Slavery” which is inspired by Africans sold as slaves in Libya.

On the other hand, Natalie takes on light-hearted issues such as gossip in “Wonders Shall Never End”. One of her pieces, a vase, is made of mask etchings. This work speaks of the variety of faces with different expressions.

On it, no face looks like the other. Generally, her works revolve around human emotions and feelings.

This joint exhibition idea originated from a friendship that started on a social media platform. They both had keen interest in each other’s work, hence, their first together held in 2016. Following this, Natalie resigned from the studio where she was working in Cameroon and came to Nigeria. That studio was established by a non-governmental organisation.

This show, which runs from June 9 to 24, is just one of the initiatives aimed at promoting ceramics as an art form.

“Visions in Clay (VIC) is a group created for promoting ceramics,” Arinze said. “The first show featured eight artists and next show had 12 artists. Ceramics belongs to the Applied Art or Craft. We are supposed to create our own events. I was the first ceramist at the Art House Auction.”