In the duality theme for their joint show, Oluwole Omofemi and Samuel Tete-Katchan have a summary of the crucial spot of art in the vast world of aesthetics While Omofemi, a Nigerian emphasises on human forms to explain dynamics of period and trend in cultural values, Tete-Katchan, a Togolese, implores geometric to expose his own world full of cubism. Through the funnel of this duality, the artists distill their art exhibition titled Fair and Square, currently showing at Alexis Gallery, Victoria Island, Lagos.
As naturalism, in recent decades, has been swept away by the fast speed of technological advancement, Omofemi’s palette sympathises with the vanishing natural black woman. He captures women of African descents, specifically youths within bracket age of 20-30. His focus, among several other natural contents, is the curly hair in afro form.And what a timely theme at the period that natural hair style is now becoming popular among women of African descents. If Omofemi wasn’t aware of this development, he got inspiration for the theme during his visit to a salon. “I met a salon owner last year who said: ‘people are now keeping natural hair’”.
And when the idea of a joint exhibition came, he brought in the naturalism subject as what would be “the ‘Fair’ aspect of the show”.
Backside angle view of a woman in front of the mirror titled ‘Reflection’ radiates multiple statements in both cultural and social values. From her anatomy to the single tight dress and, of course, the natural hair style, the young woman comes alive under the artist’s articulation of colours. More importantly, the ‘man in the mirror’, which has no gender meaning also applies to this natural beauty rendered by Omofemi’s palette. “The woman looking at the mirror is to also use the mirror to see herself as a reflection” of the society, the artist explains.
Apart from the natural hair subject, Omofemi says “as an artist, I urge women to be modest in the way they dress”. In this context, Omofemi’s definition of modesty in female fashion is very subjective; an open chest-back female dress may not be exactly modest. He calls the paintings of ladies in natural hair ‘Afro Series,’ a set of work the artist says are reminiscence of the Black movement of the mid 20th century era.
Based in Ibadan, a city of about 150 kilometres from the Lagos art hub of Victoria Island, Omofemi has been a painter “since 15 years”. But, he discloses that the curator at Alexis Galleries, Patsy Chidiac, “has been a source of inspiration to me”, of recent. “Though she was tough on me, but what she used to say then, I am benefiting now”.If an artists says, “When you see my world, they have geometric”, he sounds familiar. Quite a number if artist claim such attributes. But in Tete-Katchan’s painting, there is a spiritual flavour. In fact, priesthood is part of his artistic journey.
Mostly in cubism rendition, Tete-Katchan’s paintings try as much as possible to lift the portrait figures off the canvas, despite the constrains in flow of colour shades with the choice of forms. And when the artist does a famous theme like ‘The Last Supper’ – made famous by Leornado da vinci – the depth takes his own style.
The core of Tete-Katchan’s focus is the “geometric” beauty of the world. “There is nothing ugly in the whole world of colours like mosaic”, he argues. “Everything that we are in creation is like a square.” Beyond the perspective of an artist with cubism brush strokes, Tete-Katchan proclaims spirituality. “I was in the process of being a priest”, Tete-Katchan recalls part of spirituality that reflects in his art. “I had some dreams, which I shared with my guide”.
Whatever those dreams would later mean to the artist, his art also has allegiance to the African American theological space of the 1960s. “Most of my inspiration come from Marthin Luther King”. And to keep the world as beautiful as his paintings say, the artist starts from home, so suggests a painting of his daughters in the garden. Titled after his children ‘Anne-marie and Marie-Michelle,’ the work represents the artist’s belief in the sanctity of family bond. “The family is where everything starts”, he notes. “If you want to destroy the world, start from the family”.
Based in Accra, Ghana, Tete-Katchan is not exactly new to the Nigerian art space. “I was in Nigeria in 2007 for exhibition at Alliance Francais”. He believes that “Nigeria has produced many great artists, including El Anatsui”.
In corporate sponsors and supports, Alexis Galleries has sustained nearly the same brands.For Fair and Square, tJr sponsors include by Pepsi, Delta Airline, Amarula, Nederburg, Cobranet Internet Service Provider, Cool FM, Wazobia FM/TV, Cool FM/TV, Chocolate Royal, The Avenue Suites, Art Café and The Homestores Limited.Chidiac, whose space is arguably the most active on the Lagos art exhibition circuit in recent years says Fair and Square “is one of the most exciting shows we have this year”. The strength of the exhibition, the curator explains, is “the combination of the artists as no two works of each artists are similar”.