By Vanessa Obioha
‘Yanga’ is not a term that can be easily misconstrued in Nigeria. It is a colloquial expression used on someone who proudly displays his or her talent, beauty or wealth. The pidgin word was aptly chosen to capture the essence of the 2019 edition of African Artists Foundation (AAF) Maker Lab Exhibition in Lagos organised by Tiger Beer.
Borne out of a growing desire to provide a platform where alternative and creative artists can showcase their talents, network and celebrate the dynamism of the African sound, the exhibition is a signature event that has been pivotal in kickstarting and supporting the careers of several young artists since its inception.
Themed ‘Yanga’, the exhibition celebrates and promotes young talented visual artists, by allowing them display their craft, interact with other talents and build a fanbase for their art.
Such was the case of exhibitors like visual artist Ruby Okoro; documentary photographer, Neec Nonso; emerging singer and music producer, Yinka Bernie; and hyper-realistic painter, Amobi Akin whose works were greatly admired at the exhibition.
Okoro who is a visual artist born in Nigeria expresses his emotions and the subconscious through conceptual and vibrant photography which is intrinsic to his practice. He often shoots on the move, taking portraits in transit while documenting projections.
For Nonso, capturing everyday life and its nuances gives him the ultimate satisfaction. Working predominantly in digital format, he travels extensively around Nigeria to document the country’s beauty and diversity, in a bid to challenge stereotypical narratives about Nigeria and the continent at large.
An emerging singer and music producer, Bernie explores sound as a tool of social engagement using a sound cocoon, while Akin who is a hyper-realistic painter created a wall installation, using white chalk on a black wall.
Speaking on the success of the event, Brand Manager, International brands, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Chinwe Greg-Egu described the exhibition as a celebration of talents’ artistry.
“We are truly excited to sponsor this year’s Maker Lab exhibition. It’s a great time in the art industry as creatives are steadily challenging societal norms, transforming fashion and truly being appreciated on a large scale.
“As a brand, we remain steadfast in our commitment to provide a creative center where variants of art can truly be expressed, provide professional and non-professional artists and youths a place to celebrate their own talent and artistry.”