Olufunke Adepuji

A leading light of the contemporary Nigerian art scene, Nsikak Essien has been named the chairman of the national jury of the annual Life In My City Art Festival. This was announced by a statement signed by the festival’s executive director Kevin Ejiofor.

The central organising committee of the event, which is better known by its acronym LIMCAF, had recommended the national jury members, which the board of trustees later approved.

Essien, 64, is best remembered as one of the founding members of the now defunct AKA Circle of Artists, which once had such artistic greats El Anatsui, Bona Ezeudu, Obiora Anidi and the late great Okpu Eze among others. The Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu graduate, who had a distinction in painting as the Best Overall Graduate and winner of the Fasuyi Best National Art Graduate in Painting in 1979, became a full-time studio artist after an 11-year stint as a lecturer in his alma mater from 1980 to 1991. Besides featuring in several solo and group exhibitions, his works adorn both private and public collections, the most notable of which are Aguda House and the Asso Villa collection, the National Assembly and the Central Bank of Nigeria Headquarters, among others.

The festival’s art director, Dr. Ayo Adewunmi, in a statement described Essien’s appointment as a continuation of the trend set from the beginning of the festival 13 years ago, which was intended to ensure the highest level of integrity and excellence in the judging process. This trend had seen the very best of practitioners, scholars and curators in contemporary art in Nigeria with occasional inclusion of foreign experts appointed into the jury panel.

Dr. Adewunmi noted that in the last three years a deliberate policy directed by the Board of Trustees had also resulted in the inclusion of younger talents from the pool of past overall winners who have distinguished themselves and advanced their careers notably further, to join the regional and the national jury panels. The aim is to ensure continuity and help build leadership in the Nigeria art landscape both in academia as well as among studio practitioners and in the art industry generally.

Other members of the LIMCAF’s 13th edition’s national jury are: the frontline Lagos-based artist Sam Ovraiti, the Federal University, Lafia lecturer Ersamus Onyishi, the renowned female artist Klaranze Okhide and the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria lecturer Dr. Lasisi Lamidi.

In keeping with the LIMCAF tradition, these distinguished members of the jury will be joined later by a nominee of the Alliance Française, which has been part of this initiative from inception, Dr. Adewunmi also announced.
He also gratefully acknowledged the role and support of our other sponsors and donors including especially MTN and First Bank Holdings.

––––Adepuji writes from Lagos