Saturday, April 1, 2023

Shonibare, Kure lift Nigerian art abroad

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Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
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Yinka Shonibare MBE Champagne Kid (Fallen) 2013 
PIC: courtesy of Yinka Shonibare MBE and Strephen Friedman Gallery

The energy in art from Nigeria on international space was celebrated at Cape Town Art Fair, South Africa when the country’s local and Diaspora artists showed under different galleries.

Works by Nigerian-British artist Yinka Shonibare MBE, U.S-based Marcia Kure, Niyi Olagunju and Babajide Olatunji were on display under the representation of TAFETA Gallery and BLOOM Art.

For the London based TAFETA, It was time to project the Yoruba spirituality and perspective of twins, so suggest works by Shonibare and Olagunju. The gallery noted that Shonibare’s Twins series (2015) explores the significance of twins in Yoruba folklore. The ibeji (twins) as it is kown in Yoruba culture, “are understood to be a source of both anxiety and celebration,” a curatorial notes stated. “They are regarded as divine beings that are capable of bringing either affluence or despair to their parents.”

Also, Olagunji’s wooden sculpture gives contemporary texture into the Ibeji culture of the Yoruba with “appropriation of African forms of the same medium.” His work is rendered in what the gallery described as “stylized figural carvings,” that extends the artist’s adventure into global space. It also highlights the, “absolute commoditization of everything,” the artist was quoted.

“His sculptures are bisected vertically, with their inner surfaces coated in precious metals mined from the regions where these objects are originally sourced. The Congo Set (2016) explores the legacies of African artifacts sold outside of the continent in contrast to their original cultural use. The series provides a social critique of the values, monetary and otherwise, assigned to these emblems of heritage as they enter new markets.”

For Olatunji, drawing was a choice expressed through series, The Tribal Marks. Described as “meticulous, hyperrealist portraits that highlight traditions of Nigerian facial scarification,” the series present what is said to be “imagined characters—each with their own story.” Interestingly, the artist does not implore the traditional models or sitters process in his portraitures. “Rather, he creates fictional personalities from his imagination and references culled from Nigerian history.”

From BLOOM Art came Kure’s Of Saints and Vagabonds, which included Saint Maryamu (Every Rose Has It’s Thorn) / 2017 / Collage, 24-Karat Gold Leaf Gouache on Fabriano Artistico Natural White, Hot Press, Cotton Watercolor paper300lb. / 640 gsm

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