In addition to its plethora of exhibitions this season, Alexis Galleries recently introduced a one-month artist-in-residence programme in Victoria Island, Lagos. For this maiden edition, six artists were selected across generational gaps, from emerging to established artists, to build a sustainable relationship that will inspire innovative thinking.
These artists are Oluwole Omofemi (painter from Ibadan), Samuel Tete-Katchan (sculptor/painter from Ghana), Sunday Effiong Isaac (metal sculptor), Olorunyemi Kolapo Obadiah (painter from Abuja), Oyelusi Olusunkanmi (painter) and Dr. John Oyedemi (painter).
For the CEO, Alexis Galleries, Patty Chidiac Mastrogiannis, starting off strong with six artists was a tough decision that needed to be made. Walking into the Gallery II which doubles as a studio for the artists, the entire place looked chaotic-very typical of artistsâ€™ studios. Sometimes, an individual artist painted four or more works simultaneously, as the ideas came. Their time was also limited. One month was all they had to release their creative energy within the confined space that shielded them from daily distractions.
All the works from this residency will be showcased at an exhibition slated for October.
Speaking on the residency experience, Oyedemi, who is likely the oldest among the artists, revealed that the programme has drawn the participating artists closer.
â€œWe relate like brothers,â€ he began. â€œInitially, I had a room to myself. But now, we flow from room to room. Weâ€™re from different places yet we came together and relate freely. Itâ€™s been great.â€
Oyedemi who studied fine art at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria added that the residency programme allows for cross-pollination of ideas.
The youngest among the lot, Obadiah expressed his pleasant surprise at the outcome of the programme. The first week was difficult as the artists were still trying to get to know one another.
â€œBy the second week, we got along,â€ he revealed. â€œWe reflect change in different ways in our works.
We worked with different materials and techniques. Itâ€™s been an awesome experience. Weâ€™ve been so intimate that we know every personal detail of our lives.â€
Obadiah was also gratified by the fact that the studio was restricted to the artists only and sometimes those who have business to do with art.
The experience was quite different for Omofemi, who seemed to be detached from the others when at work. Chidiac who regularly checked on the artists remarked that Omofemi enjoyed his privacy even in the midst of people of like minds.
â€œBy the way, I have to congratulate you â€˜Femi. You have moved one metre away from the wall,â€™â€™ Chiadiac quipped.
Omofemi later admitted that it was distracting to work around people but he had to adapt with the help of the other artists.
Olasunkanmiâ€™s obsession with the face has been subdued in this residency programme where he experimented with impressionistic paintings and some landscapes with the help of Oyedemi.
Isaac had his own bout of homesickness with too many suggestions and ideas pouring over his works. He didnâ€™t like it at first.
â€œI didnâ€™t like it as too many ideas confuse me,â€ he said. â€œBut after a way, I thought about the suggestions and worked on them day and night. Now I enjoy the work.â€
The residency, which came to a close on June 14, is an initiative of Alexis Galleries and The Homestores towards the development of African arts in content, perspective and style.