The Rele Arts Foundation has kicked off its programme for this year with a group exhibition of six up-and-coming artists with 36 artworks in various medium at Rele Gallery, 5 Military Street Onikan, Lagos.
The artists are Stephen Tayo, Tonia Nneji, Osaze Amasadun, Fidelis Joseph, Osaru Obaseki and Abraham Ogundele. The themes of the exhibition cuts across history, heritage, trauma, and identity, and runs till March 3, 2019. The exhibition is the fourth edition of the Young Contemporaries initiative, created in 2016 to provide a critical and engaging platform for a new generation of emerging artistic talents in Nigeria.
Organisers of the exhibition hinted the programme had, since inception, provided enabling environment for young artists to be part of the evolving discourse on cutting-edge artistic practice, art and social activism, as well as critical issues that impact the immediate Nigerian/ African and global contexts.
For Young Contemporaries 2019, six promising, young artists, working in diverse mediums with varying degrees of skills and techniques, have been selected, and highlighted as the ones to watch out for in 2019.
Stephen Tayo, a photographer, captures intimate portraits that reveal the sartorial flair and quiet dignity of his sitters. Based in Lagos, he is interested in urban style and youth culture.
He adopts formal poses that were popular in the studio photography in West Africa in the 1950s and 1960s, and draws inspiration from works by Seydou Keita, MalickSidibe and Samuel Fosso. He is exhibiting a series entitled Ibeji, which explores the psychological impact of having to share kinship with and having one’s identity defined by another.
Tonia Nneji, a painter from Imo State, uses her experience as a female living with PCOS-Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome to express the trauma living with the ordeal, which is most often hidden beneath superficial layers. She was born into a line of traditional carvers and masquerade carriers. Following the family tradition of artistry, her works currently tilt towards expressionism, and is easily identified by her use of bold colors. Her works include “Six Days in Holding”, “Plain George I & II, III, IV, Abada I & II.”
Osaze Amasadun illustrates, in “Once upon a King”, works reminiscent of the ancient Benin Kingdom. He depicts and reinterprets significant events that occurred during the reign of Oba Esigie (1504 – 1550). He is an artist of creative elasticity whose artistic mediums cut across drawing, painting, illustration and graphic design.
Some of his works are “The Baptism of Ọba Esigie”, acrylic on charcoal paper, “The Revelation of Ahianmwẹn-Oro” (Bird of prophecy), “The Fall of Ahianmwẹn-Oro” (Bird of prophecy), “The Latent Ọba of Benin”, acrylic on charcoal paper. Fidelis Joseph, with his abstract paintings, introduces “The Spirit of Salkur” as a way of interrogating the metaphysical realm.
He is a visual artist from Adamawa State and once taught Cultural and Creative Arts, and Visual Arts at the Federal Girls Government College, Yola. Last year, he was commissioned to curate a mural for the “Maker Lab” at the African Artists Foundation Lagos, and currently serves as a volunteer at the National Commission for Museum and Monuments in Jos. His works include “Spirit of Salkur, The Journey 1, II, Salkur I, II, III.”
Osaru Obaseki, a mixed media artist, uses a combination of sand and acrylic to address how the environment affects the human mind and individual personalities. She started off her artistic practice, exploring the use and flow of acrylic on canvas. Her works include “Red Earth is Blooming”, “In Her Glory”, “Migration, The Absorbing Child”, “The Day before Tomorrow”, “What Meets the Eye,” etecetera.
Abraham Ogundele, a painter, uses colour composed dots to present “A Wonderful Space”, a light hearted journey, reflecting on shared experiences, pop culture and cross generational themes.
He is a self-taught artist, born into a family of creatives and thus art became a natural progression. He employs the use of acrylic paint and pastels on canvas as a medium to create works which reflect his personal experiences and pop culture.
His works include “A Wonderful Space”, “Wunderkind”, “Candy Boy”, “Candy Girl”, “Screen Time”, “Spaces Between”, etcetera. The ongoing exhibition is an indication of a younger generation contributing their artistic voice to societal issues.