SMO Contemporary Art Launches Solo Show at Wheatbaker

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Yinka Olatunbosun

Wheatbaker Hotel Ikoyi is the home of some visually appetizing pieces in a solo exhibition of recent works by painter-philosopher Ibe Ananaba. The body of works brings solace at a time of emotional and political fatigue in this very challenging year.

Besides, the artist has demonstrated his commitment to his society in this show with the theme, “Towards the Light” with strong socio-political underpinings.

“While the constraints on our lives in the midst of the corona pandemic are not relenting, and we sustain our support for Nigeria’s inspiring youth movement calling for good governance and an end to police brutality. Ananaba’s works remind us to continue to tap into the power of community, and the hope, vitality and pure creative energy of our visionary, impatient youth,” the curatorial notes revealed.

An exhibition of paintings and drawings, Towards the Light is “grounded in an avant-garde musical track, which encapsulates the rhythm of a generation seeking answers to fundamental questions about identity and equality, democracy, racism and the right to choose who leads us.”

Ananaba who built his earlier career in advertising graduated from the Institute of Management & Technology (IMT) Art School in 1999, with a distinction in painting and spent the early part of his career life honing his technique and artistry as a fashion illustrator, designer, caricaturist, portraitist and art director, before becoming a full time studio artist.

Over the years, Ananaba’s art has provided a critical commentary to the state of global and local socio-politics. During the months of the COVID-19 lockdown, he kept busy in his studio, a safe cocoon in which music inspired each brush stroke as he painted to drown out the insecurity, the anxiety, the uncertainty, and keep the pandemic at bay.

His subjects are presented in strong contrast, with powerful sources of light, which act as sheaves of hope filtering through dark spaces.

His large canvases depict children running across his canvas with arms spread out in full flight, reminding us to give life to dreams of an equitable future. He also paints isolated figures in retreat, waiting, reading, sleeping, thinking, hoping, dreaming, some with their heads doused in furious colors, demanding more than the status quo.

He renders his subjects with deft impressionistic brushstrokes beckoning us to rediscover our internal peace, away from the rush of our noisy, complex lives. Ananaba’s work circles back to the mantra that despite the apparent darkness, we need to keep moving towards the light.The show is supported by Louis Guntrum.