NNENNA OKORE in “The Contemporaries” at the Wheatbaker in London

21 Oct

 

The Nation logo Nigeria

Contemporaries holds at Wheatbaker

Contemporaries holds at Wheatbaker

As the global art world gathers in London next week for Frieze, tagged one of the “blingiest” art fairs in the world, The Contemporaries, an exhibition showcasing works by eleven cutting edge Nigerian contemporary artists, attracted much interest when it opened at the Wheatbaker boutique hotel, penultimate Monday. It will run till November 13 and is supported by Veuve Cliquot.

The exhibition of 21 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and mixed media works is a timely reflection of current trends in Nigeria and makes stirring and sometimes, tongue-in-cheek, comments about a nation expectant of change. The Wheatbaker’s fall exhibition The Contemporaries, showcases leading and emerging artists including Nnenna Okore, Duke Asidere, Uchay Joel Chima, Gerald Chukwuma, Raoul Olawale da Silva, Anthea Epelle,  Taiye Idahor , Chika Idu , Adeyinka Akingbade, Tony Nsofor,  and Onyeama Offoedu-Okeke.

A kaleidoscope of art that offers fresh perspectives on environment and development issues, feminism, unity, identity, history & tradition, and freedom of expression, draw on the artists’ unique heritage and perspectives. The exhibition is a robust exchange of ideas challenging its audience not to merely “think outside the box”, but to literally “stand on the box” and use it as platform to behold new vistas.

Sculptor and environmental activist, Uchay Joel Chima, whose skillfully crafted charcoal and paper relief addresses rampant environmental degradation and security challenges is juxtaposed  against the masterly paintings of children swimming under-water created by Chika Idu, who tried to escape the nightmare of traffic gridlocked streets by relying on water transportation, only to be confronted with the daily struggles of coastal communities affected by dredging, pollution, flooding and all forms of urban pressure.

Artist, historian and architect Onyema Offoedu-Okeke, presents Obstacles to Paradise on the theme of global migration showing the desperate fragmented surge of humanity across geometric paths of color and symbol, while master sculptor Gerald Chukwuma’s ironic multi-media work,CHOP, created out of an intricate pattern of plastic spoons on wooden slats, makes a strong comment on the social cancer of corruption and the growing gap between Africa’s well heeled elite and the increasingly disadvantaged poor; in the artist’s own words, there is “plenty food, plenty spoons and empty plates”.

“Art reflects society within a constantly evolving socio-political reality,” explains exhibition curator Sandra Mbanefo Obiago, who started documenting the impact of contemporary Nigerian art in 2011 in a five part documentary series, Red Hot Nigerian Creativity, she produced and co-directed. “Its exciting to see how the contemporary art scene is making a positive impact on our international identity and confidence as Nigerians, as Lagos fast becomes one of the most-talked-about emerging global art cities.”

The Contemporaries is offering visitors works which exhibit inspirational bold abstract human forms created by painters Raoul Olawale da Silva and Tony Nsofor, alongside the unusual biomorphic sculptures and installations created by internationally celebrated Nnenna Okore, in which twine, burlap,  and discarded newspapers touch on recycling, transformation and regeneration inspired by natural and man-made conditions within semi rural dwellings.

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