The inaugural art exhibition by Lagos-based art house, Kokopelli Gallery, opened penultimate Sunday. The exhibition, aptly titled ‘A Roomful of Stories’ and featuring works by 15 Nigerian contemporary artists, is curated by Kennii Ekundayo.
The group exhibition brings together 15 closely acquainted artists with parallel professional experiences whose exhibits, some appearing in singles and others, seried, yield to the artists’ anomalous positions as storytellers of their time.
It sees a potpourri of various art forms — drawing, painting, sculpture and digital art — whose individual stylistic features and combined visual characteristics challenge the structure of regular art engagement whilst exploring at the same time, the materiality defining the methodical substance of each work.
These artists include Ademuyiwa Ladega, Akintomide Aluko, Bolaji Ogunwo, Damola Adepoju, David Joseph, Donna Duke, Dotun Makun, Funke Oladimeji, Greg Onyeka, Ibrahim Bamidele, Kelly Omodamwen, Kel Savage, Olajide Salako, Osifeso Ezekiel, Suraj Adekola.
The assembled exhibits showcase works that revolve around evocative subjects such as the lot of child brides as seen in the ‘Betrothal series’ by Aluko and Oladimeji’s portrait of the forgotten seen in ‘Ashabi’, her sole memento of a deceased ally; Omodamwen’s Ovbialeke, Salako’s ‘Dambe series’ and ‘Savage’s Hall of Masks’ chronicle the artists’ keen like-mindedness to valorise their native heritage while Adepoju in his piece,
‘For How Long?’ satirises the political gambits that have derided the education sector of the country through his reflection on the plight of the schoolgirl, Oreoluwa. It goes to show that even when the artist is not actively sharing stories steeply associated with her/his person or experiences, she/he still serves as a conduit through which the story of an other is shared.
‘A Roomful of Stories’ is the vision of the gallery’s founder/director, artist Dare Herald, who is also an artist, and whose primary goal in the establishment of the gallery is to reflect the “intangible essence of storytelling” hence the rationale behind the thematic inclination of its inaugural show. In his words, “Every artwork mounted within
The Kokopelli Gallery walls shall be imbued with narrative elements enough to encourage the creative imagination of the onlooker.”
The new Kokopelli Gallery, situated at 1, Bunmi-Olowude Street, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos, is a subsidiary of Kokopelli NG, an organisation that specialises in Arts and Aesthetics.
“Visitors to the exhibition will find themselves mostly hypnotised by the rhythmic, colourful patterns of mask-like motifs represented in various colour schemes in the ‘Faces and Phases’ series by Onyeka; or trying to decipher the third-person narrative form of Ogunwo whose works share a common identifier — thickly layered vibrant paint strokes. “
The world has not necessarily viewed the visual arts as an independent form of storytelling — as seen in the case of oral, written and digital mediums — only alluding to it within its illustrative capacity.
A Roomful of Stories strongly acknowledges and posits visual arts as an age-long and independent medium of storytelling seeing its use of elements and techniques commonly applied in the other forms,” notes Ekundayo.
The exhibition opening was preceded by a two-day exclusive private viewing for the gallery’s patrons with a canapé event hosted by the renowned Chef Fregz. Ekundayo is an independent art curator based in Lagos, Nigeria. Specific about modern and contemporary African art, she has curated exhibitions around the country and internationally.
Her professional practice began in March 2017 with a group exhibition of amateur photographers, and has grown to curating key projects involving the likes of revered legendary artist, Bruce Onobrakpeya and Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, in various media ranging from drawings and paintings, to film and photographs, to texts and installations amongst other art forms.
She is affiliated with the Committee for Relevant Art (CORA), a Nigerian not-for-profit platform for artists, art critics and aficionados, and culture advocates as the Communications Officer.
She is also a part of the organising team of the Lagos Book & Art Festival, LABAF, a yearly prime literacy and youth empowerment project that recently concluded its 22nd edition. Ekundayo is head curator at Galeri ODUMIJE, a research and curatorial outfit that operates out of Lagos, Nigeria.
The Kokopelli Gallery was established in 2020 as a subsidiary of Kokopelli NG, an art hub that specialises in Arts and Aesthetics with parts in interior design services and a craft store.
Founded by artist, Dare Herald, the gallery has been designed to focus on presenting a new approach to contemporary art and exhibitions by conveying its position as a centre for storytelling through visual arts.
The gallery is located within a multi-room storey building thus offering an expansive facility for visual arts display and other culturalthemed programs