Sunday, 16 October 2016

For Ehikhamenor, Mode, A New Face In Managing Art Beckons

By Tajudeen Sowole

Art galleries' representation of artists in major outlets such as exhibitions and other art market spaces as well as in general management of creative professionals is not exactly new in Nigeria, particularly Lagos, which is a major art hub city in Africa. But when a non-art gallery group ventures into artist representation, it raises curiousity.

Enhanced World by
Victor Ehikhamenor

For those who have been following gallery representation of artists in Nigeria, the complexity of relationship with artists is well known. For the new face of managing creative professionals, artist/designer Victor Ehikhamenor and artist/jeweler, Mode Aderinokun are currently being represented by a Lagos based non-art gallery group. Interestingly, the two artists are among the fresh faces of contemporary space in the fledging Nigerian art.

 Indeed, managing creative professionals of other areas of The Arts such as in music, film as well as performing art, generally, by non-core practitioners in these fields are not strange. Importing such practice into visual arts, particularly when some artists involved may already have galleries representing them could be complex. "There is nothing to worry about," Rayo Falade of Temple Management Company (TMC) says to her guest during a chat. "Our focus is wider than gallery representation; goes beyond selling art as it include legal advisory and merchandising." Also, managing an artist's financing and  preparing  them for future, Falade adds, are among TMC's focus.

 Trajectory of artist representation in Nigeria has been troubled with quite a lot of unpleasant experience on both sides of the supposedly agreement. While artists, in most cases complain of lack of adequate financial commitment, the gallery always put up defence of suspicious and lack of trust. Every artist, Falade argues, should be able to identify which gallery best suits the kind of art he or she does. "Helping artists to identify the gallery that can properly represent their kind of work is exactly what we do."

Beyond regular and traditional spaces of art appreciation such as gallery, art fair exhibition and others, TMC, according to Falade "expands artists' scope to collaborate with fashion designers, musicians and others in the entertainment field." 

In a very dynamic setting of established and emerging artists such as Nigeria's, what informed TMC's choice of who to manage? The blend of traditional and contemporary contents in Ehikhamenor,  she says, "is the attraction for us because we believe in our culture and heritage." Mode, a relatively new and young artist, Rayo explains, represents the wide scope of TMC by looking beyond the established artists.

Described as a 360 management company, TMC also has among its list of creative professionals being managed across disciplines of The Arts. The company, according to a statement, has signed "management deals with some of Nigeria’s biggest talents, including Nigeria’s biggest record label Mavin Records, renowned disc jockey DJ Jimmy Jatt, media personalities Bunmi Davies and Funmi Iyanda."

Formally opened for business in March 2016, TMC, the promoters assures, set out with a mission “to continually improve on content, bridge the gulf between local talents and their foreign counterparts in line with international best practices." 

Tapping from his base as a designer, Ehikhamenor has brought a blend of nativity with contemporary contents into Nigerian art space. This much he exports across the world. In 2014, for example, he showed Chronicles Of The Enchanted World, a solo exhibition, at The Gallery of African Art (GAFRA) London, U.K.

  Trained in the art of animation and motion picture special effect (SFX) at the Academy of Art University, San Francisco, US, Mode made her debut solo art exhibition in 2012  at Tarino Tower, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Wazobia, a painting by Mode Aderinokun

 Stared operations in March 2016, TMC, according to its management in the business of entertainment, sports, media and art to “bring Nigerian talents to the same table with their international counterparts.” Founded by investor and art aficionado, Idris Olorunnimbe, the company “has set out with a mission ‘to continually improve on content, bridge the gulf between local talents and their foreign counterparts in line with international best practices’. “

Mr. Olorunnimbe explained TMC vision:  “With the constant expansion of the entertainment industry and growth of sporting activities, our vision is to remain the leading African talent and event management outfit, representing the biggest talents in entertainment, sports, media, the arts and other relevant areas.”

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Bank strengthens arts market on virtual space

By Tajudeen Sowole

THE impact of the Internet on how art is communicated across various outlets takes corporate texture as one of Africa's leading financial groups, Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), connects artists with art enthusiasts and collectors, virtually. It’s not exactly a new medium; artists have always been on digital space, either as individual efforts or represented by virtual outlets. But the GTB initiative, known as Art635, appears like the largest gathering of artists in recent times in one pool for Nigerians and other participants of African descent.
Artist and Gallery owner, Mr. Biodun Omolayo, speaking at the unveiling of Art635… in Lagos

Inside a packed hall, the unveiling of Art635 was witnessed by a large turn out of artists. "It's a digital platform to find new markets, new ground for artists," General Manager, GTB e-Business, Mr. Bolaji Lawal, told guests as the opening of Art635's website. "This is just the starting point, and we expect feedback from the stakeholders."
Lawal assured that the platform would be "a win-win one," for participants. He, however, said, "It's not all about GTB, but the artists."

Modalities for participation, it was explained, include username login by each participating artist, leading to uploading of one work per artist in a week, onto the site. While artists have the freedom to create contents of choice, there is, however, a gatekeeper for Art635. Photo artist, Mr. Uche Okpa Iroha, who is the curator of the platform, advised intending participants to be "provocative" in concepts and contribute to the Nigerian leadership issue via visual narratives.
On the recurring issue of artists and business attitude to their career, a gallery owner and artist, Mr. Biodun Omolayo, shared his experiences as a guest speaker at the unveiling event. "Every artist is a businessman, potentially; maybe most of us do not know this," Omolayo noted. He advised that despite the "emperor" status of collectors, "artists must not come cheap" in getting the best from their creativity.
In a press statement that accompanied the unveiling, GTB described Art635 as a foremost online repository of African art with a mission to serve as a leading platform for the promotion of indigenous artists across the continent. While noting that art is one of the four pillars of GTBank’s corporate social responsibility policy, the bank recalled that its support for arts over the years ranges from collecting Nigerian artists to partnering with foreign outlets like Tate Gallery, London, and other arts institutions.
"With Art635, the bank aims to further its support for African arts by helping African artworks become not just seen and appreciated, but also to turn them into a much more profitable and commercially viable venture for indigenous artists, who currently earn very little from their works,” the statement stated. "This is in line with the bank’s initiative to go beyond the tradition of understanding corporate social responsibility as corporate philanthropy by intervening in the economic sector to strengthen small businesses through capacity building initiatives to boast their expertise, exposure and business growth."

The bank’s Managing Director, Mr. Segun Agbaje, was quoted as saying: "At GTBank we see arts as an avenue for unlocking people’s creative potential and by creating Art635, we aim to expand the opportunities for art education as well as broaden the reach and viewership of the works of indigenous artists.
  He noted that despite Africa’s centuries-old art, the continent's art "is still young and largely untapped and we hope with Art635, we can drive its evolution into a lucrative and vibrant economic sector.

Ogundipe returns in Mythopoeia

U.S-based artist, Prof Moyo Ogundipe opens his solo art exhibition titled Mythopoeia, from today, ending October 22, 2016, at Omenka Gallery, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Cotyledon of Songs, 2016, mixed media, 97 x 123cm
The gallery notes that each work of Ogundipe evokes a distinct response. Excerpts from gallery statement: “For example, Rhapsody is likely to arouse excitement with its bold, predominantly warm palette and sharp, diagonal thrusts, while Cotyledon of Songs, from the following year, is more likely to instill calmness, with its comparatively subtle, cool palette and intricate layers of patterning.

“Nonetheless, it is up to viewers to determine their own course through the paintings, and in this process, they may find meaningful parallels with life’s journey. In the end, the works, like the best myths, open up thought, providing forums for contemplation of the world in which we live.”

Prof Ogundipe, a prominent Denver painter, was born in Nigeria and fled its military dictatorship in the 1980s. Before leaving Nigeria, he was an art teacher, a graphic illustrator, an award-winning television producer/director and an independent filmmaker. In spite of all his creative pursuits, he has always considered himself first and foremost a visual artist.

Ogundipe has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Art from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife, Nigeria and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Painting from The Hoffberger School of Painting, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore.

He has exhibited extensively in Nigeria, Europe and the United States, including The Orlando Museum of Art, the Maryland Museum of African Art, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, and recently, in African Renaissance: Old Forms, New Images at the Denver Art Museum.

Ogundipe’s paintings have been described as hypnotic, colorful and densely patterned. He paints in the rich tradition of the Yoruba culture of Nigeria and attempts in his paintings to evolve a style that is a fusion or synthesis between his traditional heritage and his Western education.

In 1996, Ogundipe was awarded the Pollock-Krasner Fellowship, and in 2005, he was invited to become a member of Africobra, an organization founded in the 1960s whose membership is comprised of distinguished African American artists.

How Bob Dylan picked Nobel Prize in Literature 2016

In announcing Bob Dylan as the winner of Nobel Prize in Literature 2016, the Swedish Academy, stated that the singer deserved the prize "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."

Bob Dylan
Professor Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, who made the announcement was later quoted saying Dylan “can be read and should be read, and is a great poet in the English tradition."

 Dylan was born on May 24, 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota. He grew up in a Jewish middle-class family in the city of Hibbing. As a teenager he played in various bands and with time his interest in music deepened, with a particular passion for American folk music and blues. One of his idols was the folk singer Woody Guthrie. He was also influenced by the early authors of the Beat Generation, as well as by modernist poets.

Dylan moved to New York City in 1961 and began to perform in clubs and cafés in Greenwich Village. He met the record producer John Hammond with whom he signed a contract for his debut album, Bob Dylan (1962). In the following years he recorded a number of albums which have had a tremendous impact on popular music: Bringing It All Back Home and Highway 61 Revisited in 1965, Blonde On Blonde in 1966 and Blood On The Tracks in 1975. His productivity continued in the following decades, resulting in masterpieces like Oh Mercy (1989), Time Out Of Mind (1997) and Modern Times (2006).

Dylan’s tours in 1965 and 1966 attracted a lot of attention. For a period he was accompanied by film maker D. A. Pennebaker, who documented life around the stage in what would come to be the movie Dont Look Back (1967). Dylan has recorded a large number of albums revolving around topics such as: the social conditions of man, religion, politics and love. The lyrics have continuously been published in new editions, under the title Lyrics. As an artist, he is strikingly versatile; he has been active as painter, actor and scriptwriter.

Besides his large production of albums, Dylan has published experimental work like Tarantula (1971) and the collection Writings and Drawings (1973). He has written an autobiography, Chronicles (2004), which depicts memories from the early years in New York and which provides glimpses of his life at the center of popular culture. Since the late 1980s, Bob Dylan has toured persistently, an undertaking called the “Never-Ending Tour”. Dylan has the status of an icon. His influence on contemporary music is profound, and he is the object of a steady stream of secondary literature.

Bibliography – a selection 

Works in English 

Bob Dylan Song Book. – New York : M. Witmark, 1965

Bob Dylan Himself : His Words, His Music. – London : Duchess, 1965
Bob Dylan : A Collection. – New York : M. Witmark, 1966
Bob Dylan : The Original. – Warner Bros.- Seven Arts Music, 1968
Tarantula. – New York : Macmillan, 1971
Poem to Joanie / with an introduction by A. J. Weberman. – London : Aloes Seola, 1971
Writings and Drawings. – New York : Knopf, 1973
The Songs of Bob Dylan : From 1966 through 1975. – New York : Knopf, 1976
Lyrics, 1962-1985. – New York : Knopf, 1985
Bob Dylan Anthology. – New York : Amsco, 1990
Drawn Blank. – New York : Random House, 1994
Lyrics, 1962-1996. – New York : Villard, 1997
Lyrics, 1962-1999. – New York : Knopf, 1999
Man Gave Names to All the Animals / illustrated by Scott Menchin. – San Diego, Calif. : Harcourt Brace, 1999
The Definitive Bob Dylan Songbook. – New York : Amsco, 2001
Lyrics : 1962-2001. – New York : Simon & Schuster, 2004
Chronicles : Volume One. – New York : Simon & Schuster, 2004
Bob Dylan : The Drawn Blank Series / edited by Ingrid Mössinger and Kerstin Drechsel. – New York : Prestel, 2007
Hollywood Foto-Rhetoric : The Lost Manuscript / photographs by Barry Feinstein. – New York : Simon & Schuster, 2008
Lyrics / edited by Heinrich Detering. – Stuttgart : Reclam, 2008
Forever Young / illustrated by Paul Rogers. – New York : Atheneum, 2008
Bob Dylan : The Brazil Series. – New York : Prestel, 2010
Man Gave Names to All the Animals / illustrated by Jim Arnosky. – New York : Sterling, 2010
Blowin’ in The Wind / illustrated by Jon J. Muth. – New York : Sterling, 2011
Bob Dylan : The Asia Series. – New York : Gagosian Gallery, 2011
Revisionist Art. – New York : Gagosian Gallery, 2012
Bob Dylan : Face Value / text by John Elderfield. – London : National Portrait Gallery, 2013
If Dogs Run Free / illustrated by Scott Campbell. – New York : Atheneum, 2013
The Lyrics : Since 1962 / edited by Christopher Ricks, Lisa Nemrow and Julie Nemrow. – New York : Simon & Schuster, 2014
If Not for You / illustrated by David Walker . – New York : Atheneum, 2016.

Journalist, Ibrahim, is winner of $100,000 Nigeria Literature Prize 2016

Chairman, Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Advisory Board Prof. Ayo Banjo, announced Abubakar Ibrahim’s book Season of Crimson Blossoms, as the best work in 2016.
Ibrahim beat two other finalists Elnathan John ('Born On A Tuesday') and Chika Unigwe ('Night Dancer').

Ibrahim, a journalist and editor of Arts and Ideas page at Daily Trust on Sunday, stated: "What I wanted to do was to, in a way, drag this part of the country that has been absent in the body of Nigerian literature into the mainstream. That was my major goal. Because there's no way you can tell the Nigerian story if it is not balanced and hasn't been for decades. We have had stories from the south about the south and nothing about the north, so the narrative isn't balanced. So something has to be done instead of sitting down and complaining.”

Before the shortlist, 173 authors participated in the competition, said the Prize’s Advisory Board.
The Nigeria Prize for Literature has since 2005 rewarded eminent writers such as Gabriel Okara (co-winner, 2005, poetry), Professor Ezenwa Ohaeto (co-winner, 2005, poetry); Ahmed Yerima (2006, drama) for his classic, Hard Ground;  Mabel Segun (co-winner, 2007, children’s literature) for her collection of short plays Reader’s Theatre; Professor Akachi Adimora-Ezeigbo (co-winner, 2007, children’s literature) with her book, My Cousin Sammy; Kaine Agary (2008, prose); Esiaba Irobi (2010, drama) who clinched the prize posthumously with his book Cemetery Road; Adeleke Adeyemi (2011, children’s literature) with his book The Missing Clock; Chika Unigwe (2012 – prose), with her novel, On Black Sister’s Street; Tade Ipadeola (2013; Poetry) with his collection of poems, Sahara Testaments and Sam Ukala (2014;Drama) with Iredi War.

The Nigeria Prize for Literature rotates yearly amongst four literary genres: prose fiction, poetry, drama and children’s literature. 

Sunday, 9 October 2016

In Lagos, A Kenyan Experience Of African Art Appropriation

By Tajudeen Sowole
Loss of value, either as a result of of misplaced or missing provenance, has been widely responsible for improper appropriation of African art, particularly in foreign spaces.
Such distortion is even more visible when art of African traditional origin has to contend with contemporary space. 

Visiting Kenyan Scholar, Lydia Gatundu Galavu speaking during a Lagos interactive event.
Curatorial challenge, in this context, was the focus of a visiting Kenyan scholar, Lydia Gatundu Galavu who shared her thoughts with Lagos audience under the theme Displaying Traditional Art in Contemporary African Time, at Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Foundation (OYASAF), Maryland, Lagos. Galavu, a Ph.d Scholar on History of Art in Kenya was in Nigeria as the 2016 OYASAF Fellow.   

 Few days ahead of concluding her visit, Galavu told participants at the OYASAF Fellowship Interactive Session that choosing Nigeria as a resource to further her research was unavoidable. "Nigeria is in the forefront of creativity in Africa," she stated and noted that "OYASAF has the largest collection of African art."
However, appropriation of art of African origin is as crucial as the energy and other resources invested in collecting the works, either traditional, modern or contemporary. More importantly, as some of the continent's best collections – of traditional art - are on display in foreign museums, with quite a number of the of them being ancient also adds to the complexity of appropriation as well as getting proper provenance. For Galavu, the take-off point should be the reality of the period, which such collection is being handled. "Being in contemporary times, we need to fuse our art into the current understanding."
Sharing her experience, for examples, from spaces such as Berlin Museum, Germany; British Museum, London, U.K; and Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, U.S,. Galavu recalled that in quite a number of situations, the presentations were distorted. In fact, sometimes, non-African art, she alleged, were wrongly placed in African museum spaces. And where African contents existed, the texts, particularly on provenance, she said "do not represent the ideology behind the art and period."
Galavu's findings would not be seen as exactly new to the complexity of African art history space, particularly the academia of which she belongs. Nigeria, in indeed, is a case study, where lamentations over the dearth of adequate documentation of traditional art has been voiced at different fora.

 However, there appeared to have emerged new dawn in the last few years with quite a number if books on traditional African art. Among such books are a collaboration between Femi Akinsanya African Art Collection (FAAAC) and Sylvester Ogbechi titled Making History: African Collectors and the Canon of African Art; in 2013, Conversations With Lamidi Fakeye, authored by Yemisi Shyllon and Dr. Ohioma Pogoson, published by Revilo Company Limited; and last year, Art and Risk in Ancient Yoruba: Ife History, Power and Identity, c. 1300, a Cambridge University Press publication, written by an American scholar, Suzanne Preston Blier.
 At the OYASAF interactive event, quite a number of contributors from the audience agreed with Galavu on the danger of misappropriation. But again, the issue remains largely about the richness of documentation available to art managers, home and in the Diaspora. Also, the issue of not placing premium on anything of African origin was also highlighted.
In his contribution, the convener, Shyllon argued that "art is the only venture where Africa has competitive advantage in the world." He stressed how such advantage could help "to project our identity."

 Galavu is from Institute of Anthropology, Gender and African Studies, Nairobi University, Kenya.
Her Thesis is titled Traditional Art and the Individual: An ethnographic investigation of Turkana kitchen art. Galavu’s curatorial highlights included: AAM- Getty International Program: museum art professionals (2016), Washington DC, US;
Sanaa ya Makaratasi; exhibition of works on paper titled 'African Paper Art: Process, Substance, Environment  from 12 African countries, Nairobi, 2012;A for Africa Project, exhibition in Benin, Kenya and Burkina Faso (2009/2010)
International Symposium for Ceramic Education and Exchange, University College of Creative Arts, Farnham UK (2007/2008)
Exhibition Design, at the British Museum for development of the exchange exhibition Hazina (2005).  

Saturday, 8 October 2016

In Lagos, GTB Unveils Virtual Art Gallery

L-R: Chichi Ikonta, Communications and External Affairs Officer; Tolu Onipede, Corporate Social Responsibility Officer, Oyinade Adegite, Senior Manager, Communication and External Affairs and Uche Okpa-Iroha, Curator, GTB635 Art Gallery at the inauguration of the bank's Art gallery in Lagos.