By Henry Akubuiro
After three months of rigorous search, Next of Kin Series 4 has unveiled the 10 finalists for the 2022 edition of the yearly art competition and exhibition. Fourth in the yearly talent hunt project, Next of Kin Series-4 took off when Thought Pyramid Art Centre called for the submission of entries in October 2021.
Eligible entries included young and up-and-coming artists whose careers were not more than eight years. The specified years of practice was deliberate to expand the scope for more talented artists to submit entries.
On March 27, 2022, the ten finalists will have their works on display at the Grand Finale, to be held inside Thought Pyramid Art Centre, 76, Norman Williams Street, Ikoyi, Lagos State. It’s important to note that the event will observe Lagos State Covid-19 protocols.
Director of Thought Pyramid Art Centre, Ovie Omatsola, said: “Next of Kin is a yearly juried art project of competition and exhibition format that contributes to the development of fresh artists in Nigeria,” adding, “This is the fourth in the series of the art project where the new generation of artists are supported and mentored at the initial stages of their career where it matters the most.”
Omatsola recalled that Next of Kin, in the previous editions, had uncovered young artists, such as Anthonia Nnneji, Christian Allison and Ikechukwu Ezeigwe, as three of the previous winners of the yearly talent hunt. After emerging winners of different editions of Next of Kin, respectively, the artists’ works, over the years, have climbed the ladder of art appreciation in Africa and other parts of the world.
Expanding on the vision of Next of Kin, Omatsola explained that the talent event was an art initiative created to envision the future of art in Nigeria by discovering future masters from the hoard of current emerging artists.
Next of Kin, he said, looked out for artists who possess that peculiar artistic originality and creative disruptiveness with transcending futuristic abilities and traits. The success of Next of Kin, the director said, was in the unearthing of such talents.
To inspire the young artists at the recent preview, guest speakers, Sam Ovraiti, Duke Asidere and Abolore Sobayo shared their thoughts on the challenges of being an established artist.
Sobayo, founder of Jeleosinmi Art Gallery, Oshodi, Lagos, told the audience how mentorship was key in art practice. He started by acknowledging the role of Ovraiti in mentoring him, which he recalled contributed in lifting his career. Explaining the yearly art competition and exhibition, Next of Kin, Sobayo noted that the name represented creating opportunity for young artists. While congratulating the participants, he said the benefit was not just to the winners, but to all participants, too.”
The lead guest speaker, Ovraiti argued that not every artist would be a star or be known. “Only three percent of you here will be known in your career,” said the well known artist, an expert in mentorship. “But being a famous artist is not so difficult; the quality should be in you right now.” He explained that whoever, as a young artist, thought he or she “is going to be famous, may not achieve it,” adding, “But if you believe you are famous now, you will be famous.”
Ovraiti described the mentality to succeed as a seed and the beginning that went beyond having intention,, instructing them to “plant the seed of being known in your mind.”
He said “participating in this art exhibition showed that you are among the next of kin” that will inherit the future and become famous. “Every generation must produce their king and queen and prince etc. So, every artist must face challenges like the proverbial tree that face hostility constantly,” but never stopped yielding branches. “You must create your own fruits as a tree, and be different.”
Asidere, who said he had been painting since 1981, told the young artists audience how he had always been learning from then till now. «Your studio is your daily practice so that people who don›t know will not be teaching you art.» Artists, he stated, «should be adventurous, and choose your choice; don›t let anyone choose for you.»
Sponsored by Nigeria Machine Tools and TrustBanc Group, Next of Kin Series-4 finalists selection was juried by artists Sam Ovraiti, Abiodun Olaku, Fidelis Odogwu and art critic, Tajudeen Sowole.
After an interactive session between the young artists and the guest speakers, Ovraiti announced the 10 finalists as: Adenitan Daniel, Olalekan Adeyemi Julius, Solomon Akinnire, Ademola Ojo, Chidinma Nwafor, Obeka Simon Edoh, Boluwatife Victoria Lawal, Falope Ibrahim Abiodun, Jiboku Segun Adebayo, and Aladejare Ayodeji.
Besides, Omotsola announced the following prizes: 1st Prize — One-month fully-funded art residency/sponsored solo exhibition; 2nd Prize —one hundred and fifty thousand naira; 3rd Prize — one hundred thousand naira.”
From the entry point till date, Next of Kin Series 4, according to Omatsola, never had gender preference or age restriction as long as the artist submitting the entry meets the career timespan specified.
“Ten finalists have been selected after the jury went through the entries submitted, towards preparation for the grand finale where the works of the finalists will be exhibited and the winner announced,” Omatsola enthused. “Professional and seasoned artists/art stakeholders have been carefully appointed as jury members. The identities of the jury were withheld from the public to ensure fairness and avoid decision influence.”
Thought Pyramid Art Centre is an art organisation established with a distinctive mentality to be a pioneering art stakeholder in the domestic and international art scene.