Toned in social and economic hues, a body of work by artist, Michael Fashakin, shown as Exchange of Change at Yusuf Grillo Gallery, Yaba College of Technology (Yabatech), Lagos revisits the lost monetary value era of Nigerian currency.
Quite of documentary value too, the wall pieces refreshe memory of prudency as the artist implores large size coins in metal foils, representing old denomination of kobos such as, 10, 25, 5 as well as 1 penny and1 naira. Profoundly two periods in modern monetary exhange of Nigerian currency: the pound/penny and Naira-kobo eras.
In about 33 pices spread across seven paintings and mixed media as well as 8 pieces of relief coins depiction, the artist takes visitors at the exhibition through history as the assemblage tells one that Herbert Macauley is one of the most commonly used iconic names on Nigerian currency. Macauley (18 – ) currently on 100 Naira note has passed through more than two stages of change in the country’s ever changing currencies.
More salient lessons to learn from Fashakin’s Exchange of Change is the fact that the works suggest the wide gap in the Nigeria’s devaluation stages over the periods that the change in currency happened. The exhibition could inspire a museum of currency if the financial institutions like Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and others really place value on documentation.
Just when some of the paintings suggest that the artist’s strength lies more in mixed media, a standing figure of man in chains titled How Long ? (mental slavery), proves that Fashakin’s brush strokes could be masterly too. Inspired by concern for depedence on foreign value and things in generalmy, the artist’s depiction explains what he considered as “self imposed slavery and bondage.”
On monetary exchange, Fashakin recalled period that “Nigerians once witnessed a time when the Naira was equal to a US dollar, but the story is not the same now.” He emphasised what has become almost a national anthem: “We need to look inward for everything required to grow the economy; the nation must go back to the farm.”
Fashakin’s Exchange of Change provides windows for followers to track his strength and ( challenges in the realm of materials’ influence on an artist’s form.
“I find metal foil mixed media more comfortable for now,” he disclosed. “The foil gives me more time to produce what I like unlike the acrylic which dries faster making me struggle with tIme.” Few Nigerian artists have used foil extensively which gives room to spring surprises, but with oil, nothing exactly to prove as much, the artist seems to be saying.
Curatorial note: In line with the desired goals for the School of art Design and Printing to continue to be a visual art platform in the academic community. For this of which it is committed to the presentation, development and discourse of Visual Art in all genre, whether specialized, interdisciplinary or integrated with academic consumption and development at its core. The School of Art Design and Printing finds it seminal to expose our Art faculty community and associations to as much critical developments and progression in contemporary visual art as possible. This is with a view to equip for successful academic and artistic practice through beneficial collaborations and interactions. This exhibition of works by Micheal Fashakin is another step in the direction of our academic aspirations.