When artists, who have a few years post-training experience, gaze into the future with a mentality of mastering the art, the pressure of creating faultless contents is higher.
Emeka Nwagbara, Chinedu Uzoma, Damilola Opedun, Ezekiel Osifeso, Olajide Salako, Olufemi Oyewole, Oluwafunke Oladimeji, Segun Fagorusi and Raji Mohamed are artists, supposedly, with such vision for the future.
Again, most of the artists have been selected to show at Generations – Future Masters-2, a series that debuted last year, and opening June 30, 2018 at Mydrim Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos.
The gallery’s taste for mastery of art is not a recent development, in 2007, it showed exhibition titled, Living Masters. And just a few weeks ago, the Gallery had 12 modern and contemporary artists show it titled, The Masters.
Mentored or inspired by some well-known masters, the ‘future masters’ are artists whose works emit both traditional or modern nuances.
Either in figural or streetscape representation, the artists’ renditions in hue or brush movements suggest a rich Lagos art space, which is beyond what the city’s art connoisseurs are familiar with.
More importantly, the battle for the soul of contemporary art is being broadened, considering the fact that the artists work in medium like fine and ‘conceptual’ art.
However, the artists are well focused; not interested in the politics of contemporary art contents.
“I think we should just do our art and leave writers with the categorisation,” Nwagbara who is one of the artists trained at Universal Studios of Art, said.
The texture of the exhibiting artists reflect the diversity and dynamics of Nigerian art space with a mix of formally and informally trained artists.
The Universal Studios at National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos is the place of convergence for such a mix.
Perhaps, the starting point in getting to know the mental readiness of the artists is their understanding of mastery of art.
“As a young artist, I believe mastery of art is the ability of the artist to start from the known to the unknown,” Fagorusi said.
Being among the oldest art galleries in Lagos, Mydrim has the resilience to accommodate art across tastes and genres.
“It is not just about the process of creating art, but always the content,” curator at Mydrim, Hannah Oghene, assured.
“What makes masters is the experience, and we are creating platform for these artists to have series of exhibitions from last year.”
Perhaps, Uzoma, whose career started with six years of informal training at the Universal Art Studio before his Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH) education, exudes the ideal experience on the journey of mastery of art.
“During my six years at Universal Studio, I never painted,” Uzoma said.
His concentration on drawing, he recalled was for inability to afford painting materials. He actually made his first painting after two years at LASPOTECH.
From hyperrealism texture of Mohammed, which captures figures in domestic activities, to Oyewole’s landscape, traces and shadows of some contemporary Nigerian masters are visible in quite a number of the young artists’ works.
Specifically, familiar brushstrokes of artists such as, Abiodun Olaku and Ebenezer Akinola are noticeable on the canvas of Mohammed and Oyewole.
Damilola, who graduated from the Auchi Polytechnic in 2010, is an artist whose painting skill is complemented by his choice of theme.
“I paint familiar subject that concern our souls as human beings.”
Among such works are, ‘Man Made’ about what God has for mankind and ‘Maternal’ talks about longevity and inspirations from mothers.
Founder of Mydrim, Mrs Sinmidele Adesanya, is worried that the content of art is changing from proper value to some kind of dangerous trend that might affect quality.
For this reason, Mydrim, she explained, started the intervention effort with Generations – Future Masters series to give young artists platform to keep ‘foundational value’ alive in art appreciation.
“We have over the past 25 years, organised exhibitions aimed at reviving sound art practice based on firm foundational principles of observation, creativity, skill and draughtsmanship,”she said in the Gallery Statement.
“In recent times, there has been a trend in the visual art circles for the promotion of art that does not place any particular emphasis on the foundational principles of art enumerated above.”
She, however, lamented that such works, which lack the values explained above, “have received publicity through social media and other aggressive promotion platforms.”
Adesanya warned: “Although, this form may gather momentum and become established over time, it will be a disservice to place more value, economic and otherwise on this than the work of deeply talented artists.
The danger in allowing this to happen will be an eventual lowering of standards.”