Arts & Entertainments

All Guts as 8 Nigerian artists hold group exhibition

One of the leading art houses in Lagos, Kokopelli Nigeria, an arts and aesthetics company and a story telling hub, established to meet the need of everyone who longs to tell their stories and engage with stories told by others through artistic expressions, held group exhibition featuring new works by eight Nigerian artists; Orowole Oluwole, Mosun Mewase, Peter Adelaja, Sotonye Jumbo, Gbenga Adeku, Ajibo Ikechukwu, Gbenga Olawole and Julius Ugochukwu. The exhibition was themed; All Guts.

The artists were inspired by their participation at the Harmattan Workshop organised by Bruce Onabrakpeya Foundation (BOF) during the last summer. Speaking at the opening of the exhibition, renowned Nigerian artist, printmaker, painter and sculptor as well as scholar, Professor Bruce Onabrakpeya, commended the art gallery for the exhibition, and called on young artists to unite and hold group exhibitions as it helps them to grow together. “If you can continue this way to exhibit together, do things together and carry one philosophy or the other, you will find that you are going to grow together,” he said.

Citing an example of the Zaria Rebels, Onabrakepaya, who was a founding member of the group, noted that they are a group of seven artists that sprung up in the late 1950s, adding that when the name of one artist is mentioned, the names of the other members are also mentioned. “If you keep working together, you will find that you will be elevating one another and with time, you will become a household in the industry,’’ he admonished, adding that; ‘‘The leadership role is put in your hands and the sky is the limit. Please go on this way, and we are proud that you are privy to the Harmattan Workshop and we want more groups to spring up.

Keep it up, don’t let it end this way. Have other exhibitions, other themes to talk about it and you will grow to become very important.’’ Also speaking at the event, Chief Wanda Ibru, said it is interesting to see young artists participate at the Harmattan Workshop organised by Bruce Onabrakpeya Foundation (BOF) during the last summer, noting that, “it is always interesting to see the type of artists that come together and this year it was amazing to see the synergy that the artists displayed. They met in August and here they are together to hold this group exhibition.

Look at the short period of time and it is amazing that the artists with different styles came together to find a common theme. “When I heard about the title, All Guts, with these young artists, I find their guts in their stomach. They have given everything that is coming from their guts such as their sincerity, truthfulness and it is a great title for the exhibition.

They have made some political statements on the social side through their arts and it is very meaningful. ‘‘I love the way that the artists are using different types of medium to express their works. Some of them have used recycled products to do their artworks. They have taken something that is known as waste and they have recycled it and upscaled it to give it a different feeling and meaning and they have made it beautiful.” She noted that the eight artists met at the Harmattan Workshop and they bonded very well.

“That is part of it and for the artists to be able to support each other, if more artists can work together, it will be very beneficial to them and to the art world. The artists have done a fantastic job and I’m proud of them.” She commend Onabrakpeya for bringing these artistes together, noting that he (Onabrakpeya) has brought so many groups together for more than 23 years. The curator of the exhibition, Sabo Kpade, explained that All Guts is a meditation on ideas around figuration and abstraction, rendered in distinct modalities of art making.

“The varied works range from paintings to metal foil relief printing, from sculptural work and collage to assemblage art. “The featured artists in All Guts through their individual practices define new maps of meaning by responding to the complex geographic, cultural and intellectual specificities of Nigeria, the most populous Black nation on earth.”

Kpade noted that there is a strong correspondence between the works, and chief of which is artistic integrity. The two dramatic aspects of All Guts are a survey that focuses on divergent interpretations of contemporary art and an opportunity to engender a conversation between a generation of early career artists who may define Nigerian art for decades to come. “The varied works range from paintings to metal foil relief printing, from sculptural work and collage to assemblage art. The featured artists in All Guts are alumni of August Artist Retreat (2022), the flagship institution run by Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation (BOF).

Speaking to journalist, one of the artists, Jumbo Sotonye, said they are there to celebrate ourselves as artists, adding that; “the journey has not been easy but we found time to practice. We are eight artists that participated at the Harmattan Workshop in Delta State. My works for this exhibition takes all the guts for me to tell my story.” The artworks exhibited include: ‘Sisters’, ‘Obsession’, ‘The Bull’, and ‘The Trumpeter’ by Julius Ugochukwu; ‘New jean Michel’, ‘Surrounded by Warhols’, ‘Broken Frame’, and ‘Sleeping Monolisa’ by Jumbo Sotonye; ‘Sister’s Keeper’, ‘New Balance I & II’, and ‘The Unveiling’ by Mosun Mewase; ‘Dark Times’, ‘The Undying’, ‘The Idealist’ and ‘Lagbaja’ by Gbenga Olawale; and ‘A Static Flow’, ‘Recycling’, ‘A Fighter’s Anatomy’ and ‘Rhythm of Chaos’ by Peter Adelaja. Kokopelli Gallery is a modern and contemporary art gallery dedicated to showcasing ingenious artists who have mastered the art of storytelling. Established in 2021, the gallery also hosts a number of events like art exhibitions, tales and cocktails (an evening of storytelling) where storytellers and story lovers gather to enjoy folktales, music, poetry, comedy, cocktails and book launch, art conferences, sip and paint events and other related engagements.

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