By Simeon Mpamugoh
A joint exhibition of two brothers; Emmanuel and Stanley Dudu will be on webinar tomorrow at Alexis Galleries, Nigeria’s foremost art porch, 282, Akin Olugbade street, off Idowu Martins Street, Victoria Island , Lagos. The exhibition with the theme; ‘Meet the Dudus’11, will witness both artists showcasing 28 works, 14-14 each.
The show promises to be a melting pot of the artists’ new offerings in the last 17 years when they first exhibited their bodies of works. Sharing the vision and making it possible was a consortium of private companies which included; Pepsi, Tiger, Indomie, MIKANO, UPS, Cool World, Delta Airlines, Aina Blankson, the Homestores and Art Café.
In a preview with select arts journalists, the curator and founder, Alexis Galleries, Patty Chidiac Mastrogianni waxed literal when she said that it was not uncommon in art to find works that emotionally engage viewers and strike an unproblematic fact of love and hope. She said, “It is proven that emotional responses are often regarded as the key stone to experience art. Consequently, it takes an exceptional craft man to strike that feeling in his audience, especially since the nature of the artist can’t be removed from his work as is the case with the duo whose works exude love and life.”
She stressed that “Meet the Dudus’11” “is an exhibition of paintings and drawings by the artists and opens virtually to the public on Saturday, September 26, till October 3, 2020,” adding that , “In order to adhere to all necessary guidelines by the government on social distancing, the live view of the exhibition will be strictly by registration.”
She disclosed that the link for the zoom platform will be published on the gallery’s social media handles on September 26, listing them as instagram-alexisgalleries, and Facebook-Thehomestores Alexisgalleries. “The gallery will be partnering with Cerebral Palsy, by donating part of the exhibition proceeds to its course.” she informed journalists.
She noted that it was very rare to have an exhibition with two brothers. She disclosed that the first time the gallery had them was in 2003. She noted that owing to the outbreak of COVID 19 pandemic, the art market has not been bearish. “Times are really tough and whether the artists sell or not, the exhibition is a milestone for them,” she said.
On what has changed in his art after Dudus’ 1, Emmanuel who says he is a traditional artist said he went back to school to pursue a Masters Degree programme at Delta State University Abraka With hopes of going back to pursue his PhD in art. “Overtime I have been able to create good relationships with some clientele. I don’t necessarily have to go the extra mile chasing after galleries in order to sell my works. This is the trend now and I have taken advantage of it besides my scholarship in art. What I have done differently is the sense of purpose in what I’m doing. I think it is significant in the new era to try to specify what I’m doing, what I want to achieve, and not like gathering works and bringing them to galleries,” she said.
On how virtual exhibitions during the lockdown have helped his art, Emmanuel didn’t know whether to say yes or no but he was honest to declare that “some people may say it is to the glory of God but interestingly, I have been selling. Even during the lockdown, I noticed that the sales I made through feedback from my artworks on the internet, has been good and encouraging,” he said.
For Stanley, whose works of the 90s enjoyed some rant and evaluation by the curator, not so much happened in the last 17 years because the sets of works he did in the early 2000, which were those of his growth days. He said there were a lot of characteristics looking at those works, and comparing them with the contemporary ones adding that the effect was that he had been on a journey and able to arrive at a point, though not to the final destination.
He said, “A lot of the prior sets of works were those of simple composition of one figure, and perhaps a little bit of elements here and there, acting as a background, then I could do three in a day. I was that fast because I had a lot of energy but not so much of experience in creating and knowing how to put up elements in an artistic way to produce something superb. But today one can really see that I have gone beyond those simple times.
“I have also been able to do a lot about the stories behind my works. With just one figure in an art, you are likely not to be talking much but if you have more figures, it is likely you would be telling more stories because people come around, view your work and point out what you didn’t intend doing, and make suggestions.”
“What really caught my fancy in recent times is something that is of national embarrassment that is bedeviling the country. Though I’m not trying to push it to the extreme but mirror the aesthetic, inspiration and beauty in it and the issue is the preeminent issue of lack of power. I walked through the streets of Lagos and became very annoyed with the fact that we have poor lit streets. There are activities going on but they are obscure.
“Nigerians work hard to provide their own power so that people can see their businesses. It is annoying; however, I’m not in a position to change it. Instead I ruminate on its inherent beauty as an artist pondering; “Why look at the ugly side, why not see the beautiful side? You have some few houses with light, have you thought of portraying the beautiful aspect of it?” These were some of the questions that rained in my heart, which informed one of my works for the exhibition entitled Nightscape; it is in four series produced with charcoal and pastel on paper. I have sold quite a number of them to collectors through social media,” he said.