Chairman, Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA), Lagos State chapter, Mr. Idowu Sonaya, has rated artists in Lagos State among the best among their peers in the world.
Though he admitted that the landscapes upon which they operate could be boring, yet they stand shoulder high among their peers anywhere in the world.
The sculptor, who executed the Alhaji Abibatu Mogaji’s statue in Oyingbo, commissioned by the former Governor, Lagos State Mr. Babatunde Fashola, said there had been a lot of challenges with Nigerian architects who were not doing enough in terms of creativity, hence not many legacy building that could really be referred to as monumental within the landscapes of the city.
Sad he, “As far as I’m concerned, our architects have been conventional in their works and the issue of creativity is beyond conventionalism, one has to go beyond the normal to be able to achieve the extraordinary.”
Idowu, in an exclusive chat with Daily Sun, credited a former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, for using aesthetic property of art in communicating the cultural essence of the cosmopolitan city.
He said former governor Tinubu started the movement by commissioning Tinubu Square, which were embellished with sculptures of Madam Tunubu and Kokoro, the Drummer, the work which was executed by a sculptor, Kenny Adamson.
Sonaya, a graduate of Yaba College of Technology, who majored in sculpture, observed that incumbent Governor Akinwunmi Ambode was zestful for art who is willing to do more.
This, he said, is attributable to the mouth-watering projects he is embarking upon in the state.
Sonaya continued, “He (Ambode) is changing the entire landscape with sculptural pieces and moral paintings all over bus stops and everywhere.
“He is doing it vigorously, and deserves some commendations for his vision and the courage to pursue it,” he added.
Sonaya, who has practised as a sculptor for 17 years and was the state chapter’s Treasurer before his recent election, however, called on Governor Ambode to support the Society with a viable secretariat in the state, adding, “by doing this for us, the governor would have left a lasting legacy behind.”
On the artists’ residency programme, Sonaya said, “It is part of our plans for the future. By the time we have a secretariat, we want to create part of that secretariat strictly for residency practice where artists can come and stay for a while, share their knowledge and express themselves within the house for some time.
“There could be exchange programmes between the local artists and artists from US, Kenya or Britain on residency. We are looking at it, and we hope the fund would be available to prosecute the programme.”
Impressed with what Nigerian artists have been doing so far, he continued, “Our artists rank among the best in the world, especially the Lagos chapter. They are vibrant in their works, exposed and visible.
“They have the confidence to showcase the talents they have and the panache to even perfect whatever they are doing.
“I could see this boldly in the works of Abiodun Odunfa and the recent sculptural exhibition by Dotun Popoola.
“The works he displayed can stand anywhere in the world; they are world class standard and masterpieces.”
giving details of his preferences in work of arts at home, Sonaya said, “I like, particularly Popoola’s project at Aja; Abiodun Olakun, his kind landscape painting and the natural mood it captures.
“I could also relate Osinowo with the likes of Edward Couch of Britain and Titians painting in the renaissance period.
“Nigerian artists are doing well, and can stand shoulder to shoulder, even far above their counterparts anywhere in the world,” he summed up.
Speaking on Nigerian artists and themes that promote diversities of our culture and histories, Sonaya opined, “I think it is a universal language. It is not tribalistic and does not know any inclusivity, whether you painted a Yoruba or Hausa.
“It could be Durbar theme, gangan drummers, Amuludu etc. What people want to look at is the dexterity applied in efforts to capture the theme.
“Whether it is Yoruba or another or another theme does not matter in art, because it is one line of a field. I can see an Indian Hindu being and wouldn’t see the religion in the painting, but what I’ll appreciate is the intelligence that the artist has applied in the artwork.
“We are also planning for an international exhibition different from our yearly October Rain exhibition. We want an exhibition that would launch the Society into international prominence.
“We are trying to see if there can be a collaboration between us and some other organizations outside Nigeria,” he concluded.