Six emerging artists namely Olatunde Taiwo David, Taiwo Owoyemi Sola, Usman Semiu Alvin, Kalu Isaiah, Darlington Alexander Chukwumezie and Akeem Dada shared their residency experience inside ALEXIS Galleries with Yinka Olatunbosun
It was like an open-day experience walking in on the six artists on Day 10 of a two-week residency at the gallery domiciled in Victoria Island, Lagos. The artists were working tirelessly day and night to produce works, experiment with techniques and create a professional bond inside Alexis Galleries. Earlier that morning, the Founder and Director, Alexis Galleries, Patty Chadiac Mastrogiannis had revealed to the media that an upcoming exhibition titled, “Fate VI” will hold on February 15 which will showcase the works produced by the artists-in-residence. Laced with her spirit of hospitality, she received the journalists at the galleries, introducing each of the artists briefly before proceeding to the studio which doubled as their shared accommodation.
“Fate is our annual exhibition which has been on for six years. I am impressed by the works of these artists-in-residence. The residency is created so that they can learn from one another and grow, exchange thoughts and techniques. A lot of their works are influenced by others and their works have improved with a twist,” she declared.
Inside the work space was a typical sight. Splatters of paints, colour-stained brushes, metal scraps, wooden panels and more were discovered at different stands mounted by individual artists.Taiwo, a sculptor who is based in Benin, developed what he called “Repose assembly sculpture” by bringing together pre-formed objects.
“The idea of recycling appeals to me. I chose the biodegradable materials like the aluminium cans,” said the environmental artist.He picked most of the cans from the waste from the bar atop Alexis Galleries and sliced them into rolls of aluminium sheets.The artist who is married with two children admitted that the residency increases efficiency in the artist.
Akeem Dada, a painter was fascinated by the live painting of a nude model which formed the subject for most of his paintings.
“My strength is in my draughtsmanship and I use that to talk about cultural issues,” he remarked. Dada works with water colour, acrylic and charcoal with a quietly brilliant canvas statement.
Another painter, Usman Semiu Alvin offers rich impressionisticand abstract paintings. In his piece titled, “The League of Gentlemen”, he recounted the erroneous profiling that characterises the human society.
“Once, I encountered the police on my way to Warri,” said the artist who wears beaded dreadlocks. “The policemen stopped my and even though there were two other persons travelling with me, I was the only one who was interrogated and frisked. Even when I told them that I am an artist, they didn’t believe me. I showed them my works on my phone but they insisted that I must be a ritualist.”
Eventually, the police extorted a sum of N5000 from the artist. The graduate of Auchi Polytechnic also has philosophical paintings such as “Heavyweight Champion” and “If Roses were Horses.”
David has been largely influenced by Bruce Onabrakpeya’s and El Anatsui’s style in his wooden panel creations and mixed media works. One of his beautiful pieces is “Swim in Your Own Direction” which portrays a small fish that is not intimidated by the big fish. Others are “The Chess of Life,” and “Cover Up.”
Isaiah, another painter-in-residence is the only son in a family of eight girls. “I grew up with ladies and my mother had a clinic where sometimes I would assist her in the labour room. That is why I’m fascinated by female forms which inspire me,” he said. One of his paintings addresses the subject of body shaming. With Isaiah, there is no limit to what he can paint. From body painting to sneakers, jackets and wearable art, he breathes of commerce.
Darlington Alexander, a sculptor and graffiti artist, was born in Anambra state, raised in the Northern part of Nigeria and has lived most of his adult life in Takwa Bay, Lagos. “I worked on panel, wood etchings and found objects mostly sourced from the seaside. Even his nose ring was picked from the seaside. His spray paints drawn from graffiti art characterised some of his works about marine life with titles such as, “Marine Doctor”, “Inside Life: Secret Drawings” and “Mystic Island”. He expresses his concern for the forceful evictions in Takwa Bay and pleaded that government should provide a settlement for the displaced persons.
The residency and exhibition are proudly sponsored by Pepsi,Tiger Beer, Indomie, Mikano, Wazobia, UPS, Cool FM, Delta,Cobranet, Artcafe and The home stores.