“With the endlessly drawn-out discussion on the Restitution of African art, it is clear that the much-needed changes will not come through court proceedings or presidential mandates but by conscious, domestic action aimed to be more inclusive and accessible to all members of society for participation, especially the younger generation. If we hope to travel far in this fight, we must travel together.”
Images from L-R by: Emma Odumade, Ken Nwadiogbu, Yusuf Aina. Courtesy African Arts Foundation
‘Re: Mediation’, opened at The African Artists’ Foundation, Lagos on the 26th of September. The exhibition featuring the works of Ken Nwadiogbu and the Title Deeds collective is curated by Ayoola Princess, Fagbeyiro Philip, Olukosi Feranmi and Sangotoye Olayinka.
With the endlessly drawn-out discussion on the Restitution of African art, it is clear that the much-needed changes will not come through court proceedings or presidential mandates but by conscious, domestic action aimed to be more inclusive and accessible to all members of society for participation, especially the younger generation. If we hope to travel far in this fight, we must travel together.
‘Re: Mediation’ is a step in mitigating further damage this historical and cultural disconnect has caused.
Title Deeds, a collective of seven young artists who have responded to the past by creating individual bodies of work with a consciousness of history. These artists speak with distinct yet unified voices which echo the collective need of a young generation to take up the mantle of cultural progression.
From its progenitor, Ken Nwadiogbu questions the objectification of culture and people, by posing thought-provoking questions on value through his mixed-media drawings to Lekan Abatan, who has personalised these ancestral objects and adorned them in modern European attire to speak on the appropriation and westernisation they have suffered in foreign lands. Magaret Otoikhine weaves over-the-top fictional narratives on how these artefacts may be retrieved through her Nollywood-esque movie posters. Emma Odumade explores the discussion through the eyes of primary school children further reinforcing the idea that this remediation is reliant on the younger generation. Maureen Uzoh speaks on the commercialisation of entire cultures for the financial satisfaction of a few elites. Wasiu Eshinlokun’s ‘The Journey I Never Want to Forget’ explores concealed embodiments of various responses towards the retrieval of the artefact slowly being uncovered. Yusuff Aina’s ‘My Visit to the British Museum’ is a recreation of an experience he had at the British Museum, able only to see objects of his ancestry by travelling to a different continent.
Image from L-R by: Maureen Uzor, Magaret Otoikhine, Lekan Abatan, Wasiu Eshinlokun. Courtesy African Arts Foundation
‘Re: Mediation’ hopes to spark conversations particularly with the younger demographic; educating us on what is at stake and persuading us to seek out ways to reconnect to our blocked memories.
The exhibition closes on the 12th October.
I am pushed by the desire to portray man’s inner being. My background in Civil Engineering plays a major role as an influencing factor in my artistic expression. Here, more value is placed on the interior setup of a structure, where everything comes to life than on the exterior which basically draws one’s attention to what lies inside. The focal point of my art is on black lives and blacks in the diaspora; recreating my experiences and those encountered by my close friends such as police brutality, lingering racism, xenophobia, fraud, culture conflict and shock. I want to invoke empathy in the viewer and make them aware enough to respond to what is going on in society. I believe that the eye is a window into the soul of any human and as such, make it a constant symbol in my work. I create silhouettes of human forms and embed the eye or sometimes a whole face in them, thus subtracting the human looks and referencing a consciousness that is buried deep within. My oeuvre encompasses various mediums including charcoal, collage, and acrylic on canvas. With these, I am able to create these juxtaposed pieces, forcing provocative thought and discourse. To fully pass across my message, I have transcended into photography, sculpture, and installation. The process of caring less for external features of a subject and focusing on the internal revitalises my every approach to speak and expose reality to the world.
Olamilekan Abatan (b. 1997) is a Nigerian based visual artist that expresses his ideas through Hyperrealism and the brilliant use of Traditional fabrics on Paper. His art transcends from looking palatable to the eye to being euphoric to the mind.
Abatan started drawing professionally 2 years ago after graduating from the University as a Visual Artist. He has then been grounded in creating works that express black power and his love for the African culture. Asides being one of the fastest-growing Young Nigerian Hyperrealist, he is a fashion enthusiast who believes in promoting African Fabrics through his works which demand some appreciation for African clothing.
To Lekan, art is powerful- it becomes a very positive instrument if used well. His recent works show faces that depict Black Power and its presence, embraced in an aura of what he calls Africanism.
Yusuff Aina ABOGUNDE is a Nigerian multidisciplinary artist based in Lagos. He was born on March 18, 1997 in Aguda, Surulere, a residential and commercial area of Lagos, Nigeria’s economic hub and most populous state. Growing up in Surulere, art has always been part of Yusuff’s life and he draws inspiration from the stories and life experiences of the people surrounding him. His desire to express his people’s experiences as well as his, through art pushed him to develop his self-taught style and a desire to perfect his art pushed him to study Fine and Applied Arts Education at the Federal College of Education (T) of Akoka in Lagos.
The artist works using a medium called “Ainaism”, a self-taught and invented technique of creative lines, African patterns and symbols. Ainaism is derived from the name “Aina”, a name given by the Yoruba people to a child born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his body. His style of art is expressed through paints, inks, charcoal, colours and atmosphere on any surface and areas such as textiles, body art, interior design, graffiti etc.
The lines in Yusuff’s work bring to mind the pressures the child faces in the womb, the freedom he gets at birth and the struggles and challenges he faces in his lifetime. The lines which are connected to each other depict the journey and obstacles before Man, both spiritually and physically and the spaces between them are the possibilities and breakthroughs (success). It’s an art of encouragement and motivation for Men to stay focused and humble.
Yusuff’s work merely projects Pan-Africanism, Black Power, sociopolitical issues and unveil human struggles with identity, isolation and survival of people in the world. In the past years, Yusuff has participated in several exhibitions in Nigeria and collaborated with multiple Nigerian firms and individuals on private and public projects both at home and abroad.
Wasiu Eshinlokun (b. 1998), is a surrealist painter based in Lagos, Nigeria, who sees life’s challenges as a tool for creating his artworks.
An undergraduate of Business Administration at Yaba College of Education, he has been prolific in producing works that speak about society and its effect on the young. He makes use of charcoal and acrylic paints to create silhouettes that seem to have been in bondage.
Emma Odumade (b.2000) is a Nigerian multi-faceted Artist whose works centre around hyper-realistic drawings that question Identity and explores the social constructs of beauty and power. Born and raised in Lagos, his art journey started at a very young age from drawing of comics and cartoons and pasting collages on paper. He credits his use of Pencil in creation as a tool of activism and a medium of reconnecting with personal stories and experiences.
Currently studying Botany in the University of Lagos, Odumade boasts himself of understanding texture as he represents the details of the skin in his unique way. In his works, the subjects are not completely rendered in a bid to question identity and expose reality, while highlighting details of inner Scars and Energy with strokes and line patterns that create Uniqueness. Odumade also uses Black tea as a medium of expression to give his collage an olden feeling – his desire to negotiate the future and present with the past.
Odumade has been featured in several exhibitions and fairs including, Creative debuts Anti Art fair in Peckham, London and Feedback exhibition in Arthill Gallery, London. He has been publicized on BBC, Pulse and other platforms. Currently working on a project called #ExpandYourCreativityAfrica, Odumade aims to promote unity, love and togetherness amongst African creatives and task the minds of young individuals.
Margaret Otoikhine (b.1997, Lagos, Nigeria), also known as 30.12 photography is a photographer who uses the language of movie posters to capture humanity and tell stories, also to raise more awareness on gender equality, mental health, African culture, traditions, racism and her most recent obsession and self-consciousness, Margaret’s images are captivating and intentional as they reflect the activities of the society and aspects of humanity that are constantly overlooked.
Margaret earned a BA in English and Literary studies from Ambroise Alli University, Edo State, Nigeria. Her interest in photography began while she earned her degree inspired by the rich culture of the Edo people and the unique stories revolving around everyone, she began documenting activities happening on the streets, with aspirations of making a big impact in her society. Margaret’s inquisitive nature birthed her new body of work titled SHAPESHIFTING, it was created from the urge to highlight the dynamic status of the human mind and to draw awareness to the lost personalities buried under trends, this body of work challenges the various identity crisis emerging from dress code and exposes the truth that humans tend to shapeshift with clothing to fit certain conversations or environment.
She is the only photographer in the artist collective TITLE DEEDS, a group of 7, comprising hyperrealists, contemporealist and sculptor, a team of young artists lending their voices to the restitution of African art. Her craft transcends into film making and performance art.
Maureen Uzoh (b. 1997, Delta State, Nigeria) is a multidisciplinary artist creating narrative-driven works that come in the form of drawings on paper or canvas. Her works profile people while trying to understand why they do what they do, in turn, interrogating society and its effect on these people. The use of female figures in her works is a reflection of her identity as a feminist. Maureen earned a B.Sc. in Sociology from Delta State University, Nigeria. Her education has its print on her narratives, trying to disassemble people and the society they live in. Her art interest stirred up in high school, and she has since then, worked her way to be a self-taught visual artist.
An interesting feature of Maureen’s works will be her brilliant use of varying media, her once recognisable motif of TV heads; all trying to play a part in the interrogating narrative she portrays. Maureen Uzoh is constantly working towards affecting the world, one art piece at a time. She lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria.
AFRICAN ARTISTS’ FOUNDATION, 3B ISIOLA OYEKAN CLOSE, OFF ADELEKE ADEDOYIN STREET, OFF KOFO ABAYOMI STREET, VICTORIA ISLAND, LAGOS.