I have added a few more books published recently. If you know of better ones, please let me know.
B.A. ADEMULEYA, Akin ONIPEDE & Mike OMOIGHE (ed.) Creative traditions in Nigerian art, Culture and Creative Art forum. Lagos 2003
Cornelius O. ADEPEGBA Nigerian Art. Its traditions and modern tendencies. Ibadan, Nigeria, 1995. JODAD Publishers.
Agbarha-Otor 2000: the 3rd Harmattan Workshop Lagos: Ovuomaroro Studio and Gallery, 2000
Agbarha-Otor 2002: the 4th Harmattan Workshop Lagos: Ovuomaroro Studio and Gallery, 2002
John Tokpabere AGBERIA (ed.) Design History in Nigeria. University of Port Harcourt, 2002, National Gallery of Art and Association of Art Designers.
Chike C. ANIAKOR and C. Krydz IKWUEMESI Crossroads. Africa in the twilight. Lagos: The National gallery of Art 2000
Ulli BEIER Thirty years of Oshogbo art. Bayreuth: Iwalewa-Haus, 1991.
Chukwuemeka BOSAH and George EDOZIE, A celebration of modern Nigerian Art: 101 Nigerian Artists. Ben Bosah Books, 2010.
Jess CASTELLOTE (ed.) Contemporary Nigerian art in Lagos private collections. Ibadan: Bookcraft Publishers, 2012.
Jimoh BURAIMOH My life and Arts. Ibadan 2000, Spectrum Books.
Kevin CARROLL Yoruba religious carving. London 1966, Geoffrey Chapman.
Chinedu C. CHUKUEGGU Contemporary Nigerian Art and its classifications Abraka, Nigeria, 1998. Delsu Consult Publishing House.
G. G. DARAH and Safy QUEL (Ed.) Bruce Onobrakpeya. The spirit in ascent. Ovuomaroro Gallery. Lagos, 1992.
Clémentine DELISS (Ed.) Seven stories about modern art in Africa organized by the Whitechapel Art Gallery; Paris; New York: Flammarion, 1995.
Paul Chike DIKE & Pat OYELOLA The Zaria Art Society: a new consciousness Lagos, 1998. National Gallery of Art, Nigeria
Paul Chike DIKE & Pat OYELOLA Uche Okeke and Modern Nigerian Art Lagos, 2003. National Gallery of Art, Nigeria.
Osa EGONWA African Art: a contemporary source book Benin City, Nigeria, 1994. Osazu Publishers.
Okwui ENWEZOR and Chika OKEKE-AGULU Contemporary African Art since 1980. Damiani, 2010.
Kunle FILANI Patterns of culture in Contemporary Yoruba Art Symphony Books, 2005
Kunle FILANI, A. AZEEZ & A. EMIFONIYE (eds.) Perspectives on Culture and Creativity in Nigerian Art Culture and Creative Art Forum. Lagos, 2003
Kojo FOSU 20th Century Art of Africa Zaria: Gaskiya Corporation, 1986 and Accra: Artist Alliance, 1993.
C. Krydz IKWUEMESI, Ayo ADEWUNMI (Ed.) A discoursive bazaar Enugu: Pan-African Circle of Artists 2001
C. Krydz IKWUEMESI (Ed.) The triumph of a vision: an anthology on Uche Okeke and modern Art in Nigeria Lagos: Pendulum Art Gallery 2003
C. Krydz IKWUEMESI, Emeka AGABAYI (Ed.) The rediscovery of tradtion: Uli and the politics of culture Lagos: Pendulum Centre for Culture and Development 2005
Jean KENNEDY New currents, ancient rivers. Washington, Smithsonian, 1992
Sidney L. KASFIR. Contemporary African Art. London: Thames and Hudson, 1999.
Bernice M. KELLY & Janet L. STANLEY Nigerian Artists. A who’s who and Bibliography. London, New York: Published for the National Museum of African Art Branch, Smithsonian Institution Libraries, Washington, DC, by Hans Zell, 1993
Nkiru NZEGWU Contemporary Textures: Multidimensionality in Nigerian Art Binghamton. The International Society for the Study of Africa (ISSA). 1999
Onyema OFFOEDU-OKEKE Artists of Nigeria . Five Continents, 2012.
Sylvester Okwunodu OGBECHIE Ben Enwonwu, The making of an African modernist . New York, University of Rochester Press, 2008.
Olu OGUIBE Uzo Egonu, an African Artist in the West. London: Kala Press, 1995.
Olu OGUIBE and Okwui ENWEZOR, eds. Reading the Contemporary: African Art from Theory to the Marketplace. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999.
Moyo OKEDIJI African Renaissance / Boulder, Colorado. University Press of Colorado, 2002.
Uche OKEKE Art in development: a Nigerian perspective / edited by Leclair Grier Lambert. Nimo, Anambra State: Documentation Centre, Asele Institute; Minneapolis: African American Cultural Center, 1982.
Bruce ONOBRAKPEYA Sahelian masquerades: artistic experiments, November 1985-August 1988 / edited by Safy Quel. Papa Ajao, Mushin, Lagos: Ovuomaroro Gallery, 1988.
Simon OTTENBERG New Traditions from Nigeria: seven artists of the Nsukka group. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997.
Simon OTTENBERG (Ed.) The Nsukka Artists and Nigerian Contemporary Art. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2002.
Pat OYELOLA Everyman’s guide to Nigerian art. Lagos. Cultural Division, Federal Ministry of Information, 1976.
Pat OYELOLA Nigerian Artistry. Ibadan, Nigeria, Mosuro Publishers, 2010.
Peter PROBST Osogbo and the Art of Heritage: Monuments, Deities, and Money. Indiana University Press, 2011.
Chris SPRINGAngaza Afrika. African Art Now. London. Laurence king Publishing. 2008.
Grace STANISLAUS (Ed.). Contemporary African Artists: Changing Traditions. New York: The Studio Museum in Harlem. 1990.
S. J. TIMOTHY-ASOBELE Contemporary Nigerian arts and Artists: A modern guide. Lagos. Upper Standard Publications. 1992.
Obiora UDECHUKWU Uli: Traditional Wall Painting and Modern Art from Nigeria Bayreuth: Iwalewa House, 1990.
Susan M. VOGEL Africa Explores: 20th Century African Art. New York, Munich, 1986.
AA. VV. The nucleus: a catalogue of works in the national collection on the inception of the National Gallery of Modern Art . Lagos: Federal Department of Culture, 1981.
More than two years ago I proposed to the Pan-African University to create a virtual museum that would show to the wider public some of the best modern and contemporary art from Nigeria. The idea was accepted and we started working on it. We called it the Pan-African University’s “VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF MODERN NIGERIAN ART”.
With the help of Akinyemi Adetunji, Patrick Enaholo and a few others, in September 2011 we launched the web site (www.pau.edu.ng/museum), within the university’s site. Since then, we have continued working on it. Akinyemi, the Museum’s Assistant Director has done a great job on expanding and deepening the content. We already have more than 800 artworks online!!!
We have now prepared a 2012 REPORT that gives more information on the journey so far. You can read it here: The VMMNA 2012 Report
George and Uche belong to the same generation. Born in 1972 and 1973 respectively, they are good friends and they have more than a few things in common. Now, they have one more: the last two additions to the growing contemporary art collection at Lagos Business School are works produced and placed “in situ” by them. Both pieces, Peters’ “Free yourself” and Edozie’s “LBS” can be seen, suspended from the ceiling, in public areas of the LBS buildings at Ajah, Lagos.
In 2009 I helped putting together an exhibition at Omenka Gallery titled: Nigerian abstract painting now. George Edozie and Uche Peters (at that time his name was still Uche Igwe) participated in it. Since then, Uche has produced only a few works, mainly using galvanized steel wire, while George has been a prolific artist, increasingly incorporating textiles into his works.
Uche is an unusual artist. He did not study art; he does not earn a living through art, he is not a member of any professional art body, but there is no doubt about his being an artist. His works prove it, even if some art bureaucrats might disagree, adducing that he is not one, because he is not “registered” somewhere.
He has experimented with wire sculptures for the last five years. He “crochets” and twists the thin galvanized steel wire into two-dimensional “fabrics” that he then uses to create three-dimensional works. Since he runs a catering business that takes most of his time, producing one of these sculptures requires of him months of work.
Uche’s works have little to do with the ubiquitous wire sculptures sold at tourist markets all over southern Africa. He is not interested in producing tourist crafts, but he is an excellent craftsman. As he does not use soldering for his work, the cold joining method forces him to “bound” the wires around themselves. This is heavy, physical work, but the end result is excellent. The wires are beautifully intertwined creating works of delicate complexity.
But there is much more than skill and hard work. Each of his pieces explores issues, questions assumptions, and engages the viewer on a discourse. Uche has a great ability to “embody”, to materialize ideas into physical art works. In this case, the underlying narrative is about freedom and about the sad capacity we human beings have of creating self-imposed boundaries made of fears. The human body enclosed in the wire fish has his/her eyes bound. He can’t see that the tools to free himself are close at hand, because, also within the belly of the fish, there is a mallet, a saw, a pair of pliers, a phone and a knife. If the hopeless figure were to remove the cloth from his eyes, he would be able to use these tools to free himself… This is a powerful metaphor, delicately crafted into an arresting piece.
The other new artwork at LBS is also a suspended “sculpture”. Produced and mounted in-situ by George Edozie, in the main foyer of the School, this is a suitable piece for the large, high-ceilinged, bright space.
George trained as a painter and has always worked as a painter. It shows in the way he has treated this tri-dimensional piece. In his paintings on canvas he normally applies raw colours on the cloth and works them with the knife. The play between surface, colour and texture is central to his work. In the LBS letters, it is as if the “canvas” had been wrapped around the steel frame that supports the letters. His work is two-dimensional even when the surface is not. In this sense, his work is “superficial”, and with this word I do not suggest that it lacks depth. It is simply that he works on the surface of a tri-dimensional object, as if he had done it first on two dimensions and then enveloped the letters, like a flat cloth covering a body and taking its shape. He is still a painter that has “painted” these letters not with brushstrokes but with shreds of cloth… This piece is not “moulded”, this is a piece “covered”. It shows that this is not the work of a sculptor, but the work of a painter, and, again, I say it not pejoratively.
In this work George decided to arrange the cloths in vertical shreds. This is a subtle and successful choice. From the distance at which the piece is seen, the cloth is not “read” as cloth, but as an aggregation of multicoloured, vertical “scales”.
The central place given to “surface” is clear, but the volumetric, spatial quality of the work can’t be dismissed. The “body” is not fully hidden under the “cloth” that covers it. The sheer size of the letters (more than 2.00 meters high) plus the tension created by the dialectic between large volume and “floating” suspension are also at the centre of the success of this work.
Lagos Business School has taken a risk with these two artworks. Perhaps they will not be appreciated by everybody; the detractors will continue asking the old question: but, is this art? I do not know whether it is or it not, but I think LBS has done the right thing risking a little and going beyond the conventional. I hope they continue inviting many other artists to surprise, inspire and challenge us with their works. George Edozie and Uche Peters have done so quite creditably. Congratulations to them (and to LBS).
Here is an updated list of Art Galleries and Art Event Centres in Lagos, Nigeria
Suite H209/210, Ikota Shopping Complex, VGC, Lekki, 08053485162
AFRICAN ARTISTS’ FOUNDATION
Raymond Njoku St., Ikoyi, 08062451371
AFRICAN FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS
Temporary Exhibitions and Permanent Display
29, Balarabe Musa Crescent, Victoria Island, 2616751, 08033359838
ALLIANCE FRANCAISE LAGOS
4C, Ruxton Road, Ikoyi
ARTISTIC LICENSE GALLERY
Sandilan Arcade, 230 Muri Okunola, Victoria Island
BAROYET ART STUDIO
12, Odozi Street, Ojodu, Ikeja, Lagos 234 8032168019
Bolatito Adikat OYETUNJI
BIODUN OMOLAYO GALLERY
National Museum Complex, Onikan, 08023118105
CENTRE FOR CONTEMPORARY ART
9 McEwen Street, Off Queen Street, Sabo, 0702 8367106
175, Akin Adesola Street, Victoria Island, 2629281, 08024108765
Temporary Exhibitions and Permanent Display
13, King George V Road, Onikan, 08034049839
Lagos City Hall, Catholic Mission Street opposite Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos
+234 1 7746888
11 Adekunle Fajuyi Crescent, Off Adeniyi Jones Avenue, Ikeja
10, Elsie Femi Pearse, Victoria Island, 08056544281
HENRIMOWETA AFRICAN ART GALLERY
7, Adebayo Mokuolu Street, (Opposite Hotel Newcastle), Anthony Village, 08023073158
Temporary Exhibitions and Permanent Display
5, Biaduo Street, Off Keffi Street, S.W. Ikoyi, 07028162978
KONGI’S HARVEST ART GALLERY
Temporary Exhibitions and Permanent Display
Freedom Park, off Broad Street, Lagos Island
Temporary Exhibitions and Permanent Display
74B Norman Williams Street, Ikoyi, 2694796
2, Elegusi Rd, Ikate 2nd Round-about, Epe Expressway, Lekki
08033036969 & 08034096656 Nike DAVIES-OKUNDAYE
9, Maitama Sule Street off Awolowo Road, South-West Ikoyi, Lagos
+234 1 2707436
UPDC Lekki Estate, Victoria Island
24 Ikoyi Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos
Studio and Permanent of Bruce Onobrakpeya’s works
41 Oloje street, Papa-ajao, Mushin, 08060795466
Temporary Exhibitions and Permanent Display
Falomo Shopping Complex, Ikoyi, 08033357151
5th Floor, Eleganza Biro Plaza, Adeyemo Alakija Street
Victoria Island, Lagos, 012702964, 012705891, 08033100306
107, Awolowo Street, Ikoyi, 08033177676
Bishop Aboyade Cole Street, Victoria Island, 08057774499
STRIP OF GAZA GALLERY
9, Joy Akugo Close, Magodo, 08023662902
Plot 1376, Tiamiyu Savage, Victoria Island, 27005888
TREASUREHOUSE FINE ARTS GALLERY
130, Awolowo Street, Ikoyi, 08027172478
TRIBES ART AFRICA
Suite E208, ikota Shopping Complex, VGC-Lekki Expressway, Lagos
+234 (80) 330 74 428
TRUVIEW ART GALLERY
Shop F15, City Mall, Onikan, 08033228098
Juwon OLUSANYA (email@example.com)
WANGBOYE’S ART GALLERY
Pees Galleria Shopping Mall, 2A Osborne Road, Ikoyi, 2690856
Iwoje WANGBOYE EGUAVOEN
3B Unity Close off Africa Lane,Lekki Phase I, Lagos
Ade is a sharp observer. Since he came back to Nigeria in 2005, after almost 25 years away, he has looked with empathy at this unique micro world that is Lagos. Finally, he has put into words and images a very personal portrait of the city. A few days ago, Ade mounted an exhibition titled “Icons of a metropolis”, accompanied by a book and an excellent web site. I was lucky to visit it twice.
First, he has identified twenty “icons”. He could have selected places, wares or objects, but he has focused, almost exclusively, on people. As he says: “Icons of a Metropolis” offers a non-judgmental look at 20 character archetypes – they are the ICONS. They are a creative force, a self-organizing and self-referential manifestation of the zenith of urban survival. The ICONs add colour, help to reflect our consciences, test our moral compasses and above all offer signals to the fragile points of the rapidly expanding ecosystem of a megacity. In their guise as evolutionary change agents they can be considered as the city planner’s guide or muse and as such are living mentors on the design requirements for mega cities”.
These are his twenty icons: the cart pusher, the beggar, the load carrier, the street hawker, the opportunist, the scrap man, the traffic policeman, the thirst quencher, the masquerade, the molue, the okada, the water peddler, the oil scavenger, the praise crier, the prayer warriors, the sand dredger, the displaced, the child bride, the challenger, the load carrier. We all know them, and we take them mostly for granted. Despite their ever-presence, they remain invisible, impersonal, but they make this city what it is. Individually, they dissolve in the urban fabric. Together, these icons “create” an urban fabric. They sustain the identity of this living assemblage of flesh, concrete, steel and blood. Ade, unveils that identity. Taken separately, each of these “icons” tells us a personal story. Together, they give the story of the metropolis.
Exit Ade, the social anthropologist. Enter Ade, the social archivist.
He has photographed these “icons” and made them visible. But documentary photography is only the raw matter for his work. His images are more philosophically ambitious than most of what we are accustomed to: Ajegunle, the markets, Makoko, the oil spills, etc. Referring to his artworks, he says: “(they) seek to tease the mind and invite viewers to engage, as a means of reflecting on their own lives and that of the society in which they live“. I think this is an apt observation.
Exit Ade the “documenter”, the archivist. Enter Ade, the artist-craftsman.
He does not present to the watcher an aseptic, realistic view of the icons. He has processed these raw images, manipulating colours and hues, contrast and saturation. Undoubtedly, Ade is extremely skilled in the use of image processing software, but he has not stopped here. The processing of the images enables Ade to give them a new life, conferring them a layer of disconnection from the realities they portray. Uncoupling from reality is accentuated by his use of solarization and colour shift processes. This is particularly successful in the photographs in which he plays with complementary colours: red on green, blue on yellow. In addition, by “detaching” the foreground from the background and playing with them in multiple combinations, he transforms a single image in a series of images.
Exit Ade, the computer craftsman. Enter Ade, the artist-creator.
Producing the individually processed images is the beginning of a compositional work. The brief essay that accompanies the exhibition is succinctly titled: Repetition. This is the key word to his compositional strategy. In his words: “Repetition, whether it be visual, verbal, or cognitive creates conditions for new meaning by placing the old (that which is repeated) in a new context of an expanded range of considerations. Conceptually, repetition is powerful; it creates infinite combinations from finite elements – just as the ICONs create infinite possibilities from limited choices. He is passionate when he says that, through repetition, he would like his photographs to “go beyond a visual record of something we have experienced and become the source of a new experience. To become art”.
The end result is deceptive. What might have seemed the starting point, the photographs, is -in a way- the destination point. Does he go from reality to idea or from the idea to the concrete reality? Did the idea of the icons come before he went out to photograph them, or did he arrange them as icons once he came across them in his photography excursions through the city? Are we in front of a well structured (and manipulated) tableau of reality, or are we presented with the photographic embodiment of his “understanding” of the “icons of a metropolis”. What is first, the idea or the photograph? I am inclined to think that in Ade’s case it is definitely the former…
His web site for the exhibition can be seen at www.iconsofametropolis.com
The art year is closing in Lagos. The auctions are over, few exhibitions are planned for the remainder of the year and artists, dealers and collectors are already thinking of their Christmas holidays. And then, unexpectedly, Kelani Abass and Omenka Gallery give us a Christmas present: the exhibition “Man and Machine”.
It has been only four years since Kelani graduated at Yabatech as the best painting student, but in this short period of time he has moved from a conventional, stereotypical mode of representation, to an intimate, highly personal body of work. He seems to have left behind the market scenes, the skilful depiction of motor parks and road sides, and delved into the creation of an imaginary world where man and machine take the whole space. He has moved from merely re-presenting the surrounding environment, and particularly people, to enquire about issues, both personal and societal. That is why a purely formal analysis of his new works would be insufficient. Looking exclusively at their formal properties would not be enough. These works can be “read” at different levels.
I met Kelani in the morning hours, when only he and I were at the gallery. This allowed me the chance of listening to him without hurry and getting a better understanding of the background and genesis of this exhibition. He explained to me how the thread linking these recent works is the industrial printing process and the machines used to make it possible. His late father had a printing press and he spent countless hours there. Even before leaving primary school he was already involved in the preparation of artworks for the printing jobs. By the time he left for Yabatech, he was conversant with the mechanical processes involved in printing. And this was before the arrival of “offset printing” or digital imaging!. As he says in the exhibition catalogue: “it is fascinating to observe the way machines operate as different parts to achieve a common goal. This informs my thinking and my ideas, and thus inspires my art in this direction”. He is especially interested in the wheels, as central elements in industrial machines.
The influences are still discernible. The way he works the textures and the materiality of his canvasses brings to mind some of abstract works of Kolade Oshinowo, his teacher at Yabatech. The freedom with which he approaches them echoes the ways proposed by Mike Omoighe.
These works go beyond the easy realism. They are more in line with neo-expressionist experiments. There is in them a mixture of abstract backgrounds with superimposed figurative elements and applied objects. The play between real and drawn mechanical elements is particularly successful. And this makes me think of the way aesthetic and non-aesthetic (or should I say, visual and non-visual) properties interplay in the best samples of traditional and contemporary art. These works are beautiful to the eyes, but there is more than what the eyes see. There is something only the mind can apprehend, and it is this “something” that puts these works above the usual stuff.
There is restrain and these works and there is “soul”. They radiate warmth that is not only the result of the subdued and earthy ochres and greys. This is a personal story, and the canvasses abound in subtle personal references, like the insertion of a small photographic plate in which Kelani’s father appears. But he also transcends the personal and the intimate; the numerous references to political and societal leaders also show an artist going beyond “his” art. This is uncommon and this is encouraging. It seems, there is life after the market places, the motor parks and the other “genres” so sought after by tourists and nouveau rich.
It is always heartening to come across artworks of this quality. I am glad I did not miss this exhibition. I am already looking forward to the next one.
It has not taken long for Mufu Onifade to publish a strong answer to Moyo Okediji’s article on the origins of Ona movement. Today’s edition of Next includes the first part of Mufu’s rejoinder.
I would really like to know Wewe, Filani, Campbell and Nasiru’s views!!!!