Moremi in the Eyes of Art Masters

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L-R: Arinze, Uyovbisere, Nnubia, Ovraiti, Ademiluyi, Chidiac-Mastrogiannis, Odogwu and Nwokolo at the press preview session

Yinka Olatunbosun reports on the debut travelling art exhibition in honour of the legendary Queen Moremi Ajasoro organised by Alexis Galleries in partnership with the House of Oduduwa

The legend of Moremi had been told in books and theatres. It is time for the visual artists to join in the global cultural renaissance in this unprecedented show which opens on Sunday June 9 to Friday June 14 at Alexis Galleries, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Titled, “A View From The Masters’’, the show is the brainchild of the House of Oduduwa and Alexis Galleries which will start in Lagos and later move to London, New York, Dubai and Lebanon.

Tapping from the depth of their experience, the show features the leading artists of the century such as Bruce Onabrakpeya, Kolade Oshinowo, Bunmi Babatunde, Abiodun Olaku, Gbenga Offo, Reuben Ugbine, Chinwe Uwatse, Tola Wewe, Sam Ovraiti, Duke Asidere, Dominique Zinkpe, Fidelis Odogwu, Sam Ebohon, Tony Nsofor, Edosa Ogiugo, Alex Nwokolo, Mavua Lessor, Segun Aiyesan, Ato Arinze, Zinno Orara, DiseyeTantua, Joshua Nmesirionye, Gerry Nnumbia, John Oyedemi, Joe Essien, Abraham Uyovbisere, Gab Awusa and Gerald Chukwuma.

The Global Ambassador, Queen Moremi Ajasoro Initiative, Princess Ronke Ademiluyi explained the reason for this art initiative during a press briefing to announce the touring exhibition.

“The show is to keep the legacies of Moremi embedded in our memories. It is a story of leadership and how she took a bold step to save her people. Moremi was a sacrificial leader,’’ she said as she eulogised the heroic attributes of Queen Moremi.

The Founder and Director, Alexis Galleries, Patty Chidiac-Mastrogiannis who warmly welcomed the press said that the artists, made up of 27 men and a woman, will each present a work of art across the different medium to depict Moremi as they see her. In her characteristic sense of humour, she acknowledged the musical effort at revival the ideals of Moremi.

“I watched Moremi three times and I think I can act it,’’ she said. While responding to the questions from the press regarding the inclusion of only one female character in the line up of artists for the show, she expressed the desire to have more women on the show.

In the visual art scene, there is a dearth of full-time studio artists with long years of experience. But the focus for the gallery is to place Moremi delicately in the hands of masters.

“We are making history with artists whose names are already part of history,’’ she added. In his reaction to the number of female artists involved in this show, Sam Ovraiti noted that there was only one kind of Moremi in history. “We need the impact. It is not about the number”, he added.

For Azuh Arinze, it is an opportunity to tell the true story of Moremi. “I have heard several versions of the Moremi story. But I hope to tell the authentic story of a mother, a protective caregiver to the society,’’ he said.

In his submission, Gerry Nnumbia described Moremi as a custodian of culture, “a very beautiful woman who explored her beauty to save her people”.

Some of the works expected at the show include metal sculptures, painting and mixed media. Part of the proceeds will be donated to a non-governmental organisation in Ile-Ife to be chosen by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II and some will be donated to the Fine Art Department, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife.