Three contributors on The Sole Adventurer – Kovie Parker, Roli Afinotan and Alithnayn Abdulkareem – share their best exhibitions of 2016. Hey, it’s never too late!
Kovie Parker, Features Writer & Editor
We Are Not Welcome Here – Ngozi Schommers
In February 2016, Rele Gallery presented the mixed media artist, Ngozi Schommers, in a series, “We Are Not Welcome Here”. It was one of my favourite exhibitions in 2016 because of how well and how accurately it brought attention to current global issues of migration, abandonment, and displacement. As someone who has had to actively work towards integration and acceptance in a city that is not originally home, the series touched a nerve. My moving away from home was entirely by choice, yet, it was not an easy transition. Imagine, then, how much harder it would be for those whose move was occasioned by circumstances beyond their control – war, death, survival, poverty, bad government – and had braved a myriad of obstacles to get to spaces they are not even welcome in. They face sticking out like a sore thumb with persistent labels such as migrant, refugee, displaced person and on. Schommers’ brilliant capture of this important statement is one that has stayed with me since I saw the exhibition. My friend was fortunate enough to buy a piece from the series. Every time I’m in her home, I cannot force my eyes away from the work expressed in confetti and acrylic, and the all-important message it bears.
Prayer Room – Victor Ehikhamenor
I do not know anyone who stood in Victor Ehikhamenor’s Prayer Room at the 2016 Dakar Biennale who did not feel something. If art, in whatever medium, is meant to move the viewer, then the Prayer Room which has been described with words like spell-binding, enchanting, and captivating, did everything it was meant to. The installation, an enclosed room with abstract inscriptions covering all the walls; floor to ceiling, was created as a space for people to spend quiet and calm reflection as they physically feel art. An experience that is sure to stay with the viewer for a long time to come, and without a doubt, one of the highlights of 2016 Nigeria contemporary art.
Alithnayn Abdulkareem, Contributor
Preludes, Pretexts, Presumptions – Peju Alatise
Peju Alatise’s sculptures are visible labors of love. In the smooth finishes and her affinity for hiding things in plain sight, one can see the technical proficiency and intensity she brings to her creations. Even her subjects are filled with tensions. I could not ignore the hanging stone figures and women wrapped in beautiful but oppressive shells. Alatise keeps exploring a less popular path in the local scene by doing extraordinary works. She will remain a strong force in the future of fine art in Nigeria.
17th Auction of Modern and Contemporary Art Preview – Arthouse Contemporary Ltd
For a rookie at auctions, I had a chance to preview one of the most distinguished collections of contemporary African art for free. It reminded me of the multifunctional purpose art serves to society. Walking around, in close range to El Anatsui’s mixed media masterpiece and old sketches of Ben Enwonwu, I am reminded of how much we owe to pioneers and the freedom, integrity and long overdue praise the masters deserved. They are a gift to the new school luminaries like Uthman Wahab, Ndidi Emefiele and others. I enjoyed the freedom of expression in some of the works and noted that they fulfil aesthetic, social, political and environmental purposes.
Roli Afinotan, Contributor
Save The Data – David Palacios
David Palacios, an Abuja based Cuban artist, had his first solo exhibition in Lagos last year. The exhibition titled Save The Data was organized by the African Artists’ Foundation and Ford Foundation. Save the Data was a compilation of ideas which had been in continuous evolution since 2012. Palacios presented important data on the global economy and socio-cultural issues in the form of news and graphical reports.
At first, I thought, where is the art in this? But I found my answer in the systemic process of the works. Palacios uses real-time statistics and the size of the news report gathered to determine the paint ratio he works with and represents this news in the most compelling way I ever came across then. Each material in the paintings and installations were deliberate and well-thought out. It was obvious he is obsessed with office materials. My observation was right, as he later revealed this to me in an interview with him.
Adorned Series – Ade Asiko Okelarin
If you visited Rele Gallery between October and November last year, you would agree with me when I say that Ade Asiko is an amazing photographer. In the “Adorned” series exhibition, the self-taught artist showed the relationship between beauty, perception, and self-confidence through photographed female models and some statement neckpieces. The women in the photographs have beautiful features and attitudes that showed strength. Another beautiful thing was the placement of the neckpieces on some of the finished photographs as independent objects. It showed that the jewellery does not define the woman but a complementary object to her inner beauty and confidence.