By Yinka Olatunbosun
In December 2017, a new work space was opened in Yaba Lagos. Beyond being a work environment, TY Workspace introduced an art exhibition which featured artists in the academics. Following the success of the pilot edition, the management of TY Workspace recently launched a second exhibition, titled New Generation, New Talent, as a corporate social responsibility initiative. This show features eight young artists drawn from the higher institutions in Yaba environs and beyond.
At midday, friends and colleagues of the exhibiting artists converged on the venue where every artist showcased four works. One of the eye-catching pieces is “Eve”, the biggest and the most expensive of the portraits. Executed by Ayomide Joshua, the imposing piece is a product of acrylic and charcoal which attempts to capture the modern-day narratives on the root of human civilisation. His piece titled, “The Escape’’ is a commentary on the nature of the Nigerian economy, survival of the fittest.
For Alvin Osuya, the city transport is a source of inspiration in his series called “Foresight 1 and 2”. Osuya, who hails from Delta state, described himself as an emotional person who is very sensitive to others’ temperament. Once, he was riding on a commercial motorcycle and glanced at the reflection of the rider’s face on the side mirrors. That desperate look in the quest for daily survival was relived in Foresight 1 while in Foresight 2, he addressed the apprehension surrounding the proposed replacement for the “Danfo” buses in Africa’s most populous city. With his reference to longitude and latitude, Osuya demonstrates his ability to cross-pollinate knowledge and ideas.
Afrocentrism is at the heart of Abogunde Yusuff-Aina’s piece with the title, “Halima”. Made of charcoal and pencil, the work is named after the model with face-painting that is reminiscent of the ‘Kalakuta queens’. Apparently, he shares the Legendary Afrobeat musician, Fela’s Afrocentric worldviews. Agbeleye Babaranti Adesola’s cultural intervention is seen through his use of Yoruba titles for his works, such as “Asiko” and “Kara Kata’’. He is also deeply fascinated by other aspects of culture such as the fishing occupation amongst the Ilajes in Makoko area as seen in the work, “End of the Day”.
Landscape painting is Kazeem Mumin’s forte in this group show where he worked with oil on canvas as well as gauche on card. He is quietly advocating for reforestation in his “Landscape with Greens’’ while taking the viewer on a visual journey to a tourist destination in the piece titled, “Somewhere in Erin Ijesa”. Sitting at the centre of the exhibition hall are the sculptural expressions by Ogbeyemi Oladele. His portfolio of metal works hinges on his collection of found objects or junk such as cutlery, plugs, flask, exhaust pipe from automobiles, amongst others. According to him, picking up metallic objects on the streets have several environmental benefits. One of them is to prevent injury in children who play along the streets. Another is to convert waste to wealth by using malleable metals to curate culture and strong messages. His works include “Atilogwu dancer” and “Sax player’’. Other exhibiting artists are Afolabi Olabode Afeez and Christian Onyekachi.
The CEO, TY Workspace, Toyin Arowolo commended the aspiring artists for their efforts while reiterating her organisation’s commitment to advancing arts in Nigeria.
My hands are ready for the task.
My feet are bare; my ears are open.
Your breath washes my body this dawn.
Your breath fans your fire in my soul.
I still stand where you have planted me
With seven cowries at the foot
Of the oldest iroko.
Many times, I have travelled
The iroko to the moon.
But my feet always return to my post.
Last night I was in the moon.
It was so full of beachsand. I almost stayed
But your call has brought me here at dawn.
My lips are waiting for the task.
– Obari Gomba
––Dr Gomba teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Port Harcourt