Nigeria: six artists question emotions, identities and futurism among young contemporaries 2022

Young, talented and fiery, the six emerging artists in the Rele Arts Foundation’s annual visual arts tradition titled “Young Contemporaries 2022” unveiled a diverse collection of works at the Onikan National Museum, inspired by their wealth of experiences. personal and intensive boot camp program. Reporting by Yinka Olatunbosun

At its grand opening on January 9, a group of young people gathered at the Onikan National Museum, the home of contemporary youth in 2022, to see the outcome of a two-week virtual boot camp held in 2021. .

This Rele Arts Foundation initiative started in 2016 and has now become a cultural staple for young artists to express their creativity using a diverse range of media, tools and resources for artistic development.

In the month-long exhibition which ends this weekend, each artist brings their point of view to illuminate themes of identity, trauma, family ties, time and memory, among others.

This year, the show becomes more cosmopolitan as it features four Nigerian artists as well as two artists from Ghana and Zimbabwe.

They kept their audience spellbound by everyday realities interpreted through visual language. For Ayobami Ogungbe, his collection titled “&Co” celebrates the popular trend of “aso ebi”, which is an identical ceremonial fabric for families, friends and loved ones.

“It’s the culture to wear clothes cut from the same fabric. You can see it on twins, triplets, couples; you see it at weddings and political rallies; schools and associations. This is a comment about how we use fabric to identify with ideology, religion or familiar spaces,” Ogungbe revealed.

The young graduate in mass communication from the University of Lagos draws on the ingredients of the mundane to document a repository of experiences, bearers of distinctive identities and guardians of culture. Combining photography, weaving and collage, he uses “&Co” to highlight the codes of belonging and social solidarity.

For her part, Jessica Soares draws inspiration from an emotional story in her body of work titled “Chronicles of Esther.” She and her mother live with alopecia, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss. Soares juxtaposes subjects of trauma, vulnerability while raising questions about social norms of female beauty. Its audience would leave the show better informed and less critical of women on low cuts or women and men wearing wigs.

Directly across from Soares’ mother-daughter exhibits, you’ll find Kenneth Oghenemaro’s “Fast Traveler,” a series of oil paintings that imagine the possibilities of time travel as a means of rewriting history.

A mixture of science, fiction and futurism, the artist also explores his childhood experiences with asthma. The subjects of his paintings are thought-provoking, projecting the future into today’s vision.

As for the Ghanaian artist specializing in sculpture, Michael Jackson Blebo, his artistic journey crosses geological formations, material memory and architecture in his collection entitled “Spaces of Scent”.

Using charcoal, phyto (natural pigment), earth colors, bentonite clay and steel pipes, he confronts the viewer with shifting perspectives on the materiality and fluidity of organic forms.

Driven by the need to catalyze critical conversations, Neec Nonso digs into memories and experiences with the series “What Was Dead Was Never Dead”. It is an ongoing project that examines the belief in reincarnation and the posthumous existence of the dead.

Driven by still images and augmented reality, the works raise questions about the afterlife with intimate family stories as well as popular myths and taboos. Originally from Aguleri, Anambra launched his online series called “Stories of Aguleri”, which tells the story of an Igbo community that gained notoriety for their border wars with their neighbors. Nonso won Best Portfolio at the LagosPhoto Festival in 2019 and received a one-year residency program at the African Artists Foundation in Lagos.

Before giving the public a taste of his performance art, Harare-based artist Nothando Chiwanga exhibited his series of photographs titled “Muroora Weguta,” which examines the relationship between patriarchal enforcement and role women in African society.

The self-portrait artist deploys her body as a support for memory and fiction to reveal the complex nature of the young woman in a dynamic society. With photography, film and performance, Chiwanga domesticates African discourse on young women with cross-generational appeal.

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