Nigerian Artists Thrill Aficionados In Beirut

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Adewale Alimi at the exhibition

Olufunke Adepuji

Works by six leading contemporary Nigerian artists – Duke Asidere, Rom Isichei, Chidi Kwubiri, Gerald Chukwuma, Adewale Alimi and Suraj Adekola – are part of a recent exhibition at the Belvedere Art Space in Beirut, Lebanon. Besides Kwubiri, who is based in Cologne, Germany, the rest of the artists are based in Lagos.

The exhibition, titled The Journey into Contemporary African Art, had opened on Tuesday, September 17 and will be on till Friday, November 1. It is being organised as part of Beirut Art Week as the Belvedere’s third collective show.

The gallery, in its statement, said: “The beauty of African art can deliver various feelings and messages, however true appreciation can only arrive through a comprehension of the culture and environment that influenced the art.
“In Africa, art was seldom used for decorative purposes, but rather to give life to the values, emotions and daily customs of the various ethnic groups throughout the continent. The result has always been a fascinating art form that speaks to the viewer of the present turmoil while evoking a rich cultural past.”

For each of the artists, the exhibition was a welcome platform. While Kwubiri, who is showing three works, sees it as an opportunity to feature “among the best of Nigerian artists”, Asidere relishes the fact that the event reconnected him with an old collector, who had flown in from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, after reading a preview of the exhibition.

“Earlier in the year, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London and Gallery 1957, Accra showed my works in my first solo show in the UK,” Chukwuma said. “I also featured in KUBATANA, a show of 33 African artists from May 4 to September 22 at Vestfossen
Musuem, Norway.

“Now this group show in Beirut. The opening was a well organized and attended exhibition. A really great opportunity for cultural exchange and especially another arena to tell my story.”

Isichei described the group show as “an exhibition of sublime spectacle”, adding that all the phases of the show’s organisation was skilfully and professionally discharged. “As a first time visitor to Beirut, I was overwhelmed by its charm, history, and hospitality, both of our hosts and natives.”

Alimi, who showed sculptures and installations, described the exhibition as exciting and disclosed that its opening day attracted over 1000 visitors. Also, Adekola who showed two works said the group exhibition stole the show.

–––Adepuji writes from Lagos