Founder of Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF), Prince Yemisi Shyllon, has restated his commitment in promoting the Nigerian arts and culture to the world by organising an international programme for artists-in-residence in Nigeria.
Two talented young women, Kenyan-based Greek artist, Alexandra Spyratos, and Nigerian artist, Clara Aden, were selected for this five-week International Artists-In-Residence Program by OYASAF.
The women toured between OYAS-AF facility in Lagos and OYASAF hilltop building in Abeokuta working 12 hours a day within the period of five weeks to produce 32 artworks exhibited in Lagos.
During the residency, the women were given some stipends to purchase art materials and the freedom to communicate in painting their experience within their immediate environment.
Alexandra has participated in 40 solo exhibited in different parts of the world. She is a prolific artist whose passion en- tails translating the heat and the exotic beauty of the African wildlife to canvas.
At the artist-in-residence programme, she was influenced by her environment to produce 23 artworks. Four of her works include animals, while the rest were influenced by her environment. For example, she saw market women selling tomatoes in Abeokuta which she translated into the work.
Her figures were more of line drawings however, her artworks are contemporary, rich and textured with variegated gold, copper and pure coloured silver.
This is unlike Clara Aden, who got inspiration from the people she engaged with to produce nine artworks on 3D. She had a more detailed figure paintings, compared to the works of Alexandra. She is realist artist, and has won several awards, including the 2016 Gani Odutokun Award for Excellence in Art by the African Art Resources Centre.
Aden, whose uniqueness comes from having an emotional connection with her work, exhibited in-the-moment artworks, some of which are that of a woman wearing her wedding gown and a man polishing a frame. The man looked like one of the former President in Nigeria meanwhile her model was a carpenter in Abeokuta.
“After the residency, I want to experiment with paper as a medium of expression having seen the paper work produced by Odu Orimolade displayed in OYASAF hilltop house in Abeokuta,” she said.
Elizabeth Adenugba, whose artist name is Clara Aden is also the president of Beyond Borders Artists Association of Nigeria (BBAAN) of which Prince Yemisi Shyllon is patron.
According to Yemisi Shyllon, Clara Aden’s entry was selected by OYASAF to keep Alexandra company and also gain experience from the skilled white lady. He also noted that her selection was a way of encouraging her for her hard work and resilience, as well as promoting the activities of BBAAN.
Shyllon said the idea behind the residency was to bring artists to interact with Nigerians, get to know more about the Nigerian culture, interact with the Nigerian artists, get the Nigerian artists to interact with the foreign artists, to improve the Nigerian artists, promote the bountiful creativity existence in Nigeria and to showcase our culture to the world.
Speaking about her own experience, Alexandra said the residency was an amazing experience. “The organiser has done a good job by providing the opportunity for both artists to expand our arts, genre and get on to bigger platforms, for popularity, networking,” she expressed.
Alexandra, who did three weeks of painting, experimented with materials, noting that she was not afraid to make mistakes.
“My works are contemporary and they are different from Clara’s works, which was realism. I like the way she depicts the faces of people, hands and clothes. It will be interesting for me to explore more on the realism of the faces, hands and cloths of my work. I use to do that many years ago before I ventured into my contemporary style, and it will be a good thing to revisit it,” she said.
Evaluating the exhibition, he commented: “The works displayed and the atmosphere here is unique. Alexandra used oil colour, but her approach with the shiny effect makes her work a little different from my experience. And the up-and-coming Nigerian artist has a bright future. After this exhibition, very soon, she will carve a niche for herself in the industry.”