Duke Asidere, Rom Isichei, Chidi Kwubiri, Gerald Chukwuma, Adewale Alimi and Suraj Adekola are contemporary Nigerians artists whose works are currently illuminating Belvedere Art Space in Beirut, Lebanon.
Entitled “The Journey into Contemporary African Art” and organised as part of Beirut Art Week, the exhibition is Belvedere Art Space’s third collective show. Apart from the German based Kwubiri, other exhibiting artists operate from Lagos. Opened in September 17, the show continues till November 1, 2019.
Shortly after the opening ceremony, the artists returned to Nigeria, and shared their Beirut experiences with the media.
For Kwubiri, “It was an opportunity for me to show among the best of Nigerian artists. The curatorial aspect was more spacious in mounting the works. The exhibition was the talk of the town in Beirut. Three works of mine are on show, and it was not much about selling but the responses from visitors: it was massive.”
Lending his voice, Asidere said, “It was very interesting to meet an old collector at the event, who had bought my work over two decades ago. She flew in from Riyadh to Lebanon after reading a preview about the exhibition.”
Another excited artist, Chukwuma, said, “Earlier in the year, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London and Gallery 1957, Accra, showed my works in my first solo show in the UK. I also featured in KUBATANA, a show of 33 African artists at Vestfossen Musuem, Norway. The Beirut exhibition is a really great opportunity for cultural exchange and, especially, another arena to tell my story.”
Isichei added, “It was an exhibition of sublime spectacle. All phases of the shows organisation was skillfully and professionally discharged. As a first-time visitor to Beirut, I was overwhelmed by its charm, history, and hospitality –both for our hosts and natives. ‘Bring back my Yesterday’ is the title of the only large-scale piece I had on the show. Rendered in my ‘grains of dust’ technique, it depicts a veil covered young boy in a supplicatory repose.”
For Alimi, “I always know that we have good prospects in our art here, but lack of international exposure has been the hindrance to many of us. The show in Beirut was exciting. The opening day had Over 1000 visitors –maybe not a big deal for the gallery but for us. I showed sculptures and installations.”
Adekola said, “The audience believed that they had not experienced such show before. There was an exhibition going on simultaneously within the same area in Beirut, but ours stole the audience. Personally, two of my works were shown at the exhibition.”
Though the art market is saturated with so many young and vibrant talents, the artist declared he belonged to a distinctive class, “Adekola is one of the amazing artists to look out for, he has constantly proven this by many his paintings that was sold at Bonham’s African art auction in London, Piasa African Art auction in Paris, Geneve Encheres in Switzerland, also in Beirut, currently.”
In the gallery statement announcing the exhibition, Belvedere Art Space declared, “The beauty of African art can deliver various feelings and messages, however, true appreciation can only arrive through a comprehension of the culture and environment that influenced the art.
“In Africa, art was seldom used for decorative purposes, but rather to give life to the values, emotions and daily customs of the various ethnic groups throughout the continent. The result has always been a fascinating art form that speaks to the viewer of the present turmoil while evoking a rich cultural past.
“Join us to meet the artists and enjoy their artworks that convey diverse global subjects such as urbanism, migration, culture, identity and women, in a unique African spirit, rich in composition, color, texture, material and expression.”