Monday, 25 May 2009

Savouring a new sail

Chief (Mrs) Funmilayo Shyllon and Omoba Yemisi Shyllon at the event


WHEN a group of artists in the visual art sector came up with Guild of Professional Fine Artists of Nigeria (GFA) early last year, many observers of the industry had said it was just a fad that would soon evaorate.
But one year on, the group has not only continued to wax strong, it has also won the hearts of stakeholders in the art industry. The calibre of guests that graced the group’s maiden induction held at the Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos, recently is a pointer.
The inductees include Edosa Ogiugo (President); Abiodun Olaku (Vice President); Alex Nwokolo (Director of Finance); Sam Ovraiti (Social Director). Also listed are Segun, Bunmi Babatunde, Ndidi Dike, Ben Osaghae, Olu Ajayi, Abraham Uyovbisere, Lekan Onabanjo, Duke Asidere, Tola Wewe and Fidelis Odogwu. Others are Kehinde Sanwo, Tayo Quaye, Reuben Ugbine, Sam Ebohon, Hamid Ibraham, Nsikak Essien, Zinno Orara, Gbenga Offo and Ekpeyong Koko Ayi.
Ogiugo noted that artists’ partnership and collaboration with the corporate sector has been problematic making it difficult to appreciate the role of art in social and economic re-engineering of the nation.
And on the mission of the guild to make all the difference, he said: “In spite of the huge possibilities and potentials of this emerging giant sub-sector of the Nigerian economy, the most apparent and vivid threat to its crystallization is the psychological and economic well being of the professional artist, who is the foundation of this structure. Notwithstanding, the visionary spirit and enduring faith to principles of studio practice and commitment to nation building, the Nigerian Visual Art industry would have been grappling with the realities of extinction by now.”
On the drop in quality of art education in the country, Oguigo traced this development to “selection mode of potential art students to our higher institutions.” He, however, assured that the guild would do something about this soonest.
Of the 30 members in the group as at the last quarter of 2008, 23 had their works featured in its maiden exhibition, Threshold, held at the art gallery of Terra Kulture.
From Offo’s acrylic on canvas piece, It’s Time, a work, which thrusts its bold outline on the viewer’s face, to the metal sculptural wonder of Odogwu in Transition, a depiction of fish processing at the smoking stage; and Dike’s multi media, Urban Debris, that event was what the art community needed to be convinced that GFA has all it takes to take visual art to a greater height.

STILL on mixed media, Essien rendered a fantasy: Papa Oyoyo! (Dad’s in, toys Out!), just as Wewe’s Ibeji offered a rich combination of colours with painstaking details in the two figural representation of twins.
On the softer side of this genre came Nwokolo’s acrylic, oil and chalk pastel on canvas titled This is Lagos (II), his thoughts on those human, as well as the notorious spots that make the city a centre of attraction.
In Olaku’s Quietude (Okobaba Series), came a misty dawn realism-finish of the popular riverside settlement in Lagos Mainland. There’s, however, a sharp contrast in Isichei’s impressionistic piece, Scape.
Taking a mid-way position in between the two extreme works of Olaku and Isichei is Orara’s Let’s Talk About Our Differences... another riverside capture.
And whatever Ovraiti’s Fantasies of My Secret Garden meant to explain in the impressions of heads and other images might just be less important as the composite provided some puzzle to agitate one’s thought.
Fast becoming a group not necessarily for every artist, yet exclusive in class, the group stressed, “membership shall be by application and restricted to any fine artist of proven practice with good educational background and must have at least five years postgraduate studio experience alongside a functional studio.”
GFA first came to public glare, officially in January 2008 after the group’s first election of officers.

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