Saturday, 28 November 2009

Dilemma of an artist

BY TAJUDEEN SOWOLE
AT some periods in the career of an artist, it becomes very challenging to impart more on the profession and explore new grounds. The painter, Edosa Ogiugo is in such dilemma: To take a break from his outside work to face the challenges of taking his art, and indeed the nation’s visual art scene beyond the present state.
“I am worried,” he declares.
Ogiugo is sure one of the busiest and most sought-after visual artists in the country. He may not be as prominent on shows, the challenges of meeting demand of collections as confirmed by his work schedule and volumes of canvases in his studio, are enough to testify of his proficiency.
The irony of it, is that these supposedly indices of buoyancy, he explains, “are my main source of worry.” So, much time and intellectual imput are invested in a particular work, only for it to end up in one person’s collection, he notes, adding that “this shortchanges the artist and the society at large.”
A piece of work, he argues, is expected to be in circulation to as many art enthusiasts as people, not just the privileged few. He expresses worries that in this part of the world many people do not embrace art piece.

BUT despite his almost 25 years of post-school practice, Ogiugo still lay emphasis on high volume production instead of masterpieces.
Naturally, as the print becomes more popular, it shoots up the prize of the original, hence the stronger the artist as a brand. His strong belief in print as the pedestal for stronger and wider appreciation of art led him to be part of an innovation to promote the outlet when Peter Madiebo of Hue Concepts organised the exhibition, Giclee last year.
The show, which featured his works and that of Alex Nwokolo, Abiodun Olaku, Segun Adejumo, Ebenezer Akinola and Kelechi Amadi-Obi, had each print tagged at 15 per cent of the original price.
And it must have been an agitation he embarked on before that show; in 2007 he was signed on by a U.S. based art promotion group, Grand Image, as one of its African artists, whose works would be reproduced in prints and marketed by the organisation.

IN the art business, where artists hardly engage art managers and promoters, coupled with the lack of corporate support, the onus rests on the artists to share his studio time with other engagements. In addition to his agitation for print, his dream is to run a studio “as a business concern that will outlive him”. More importantly to Ogiugo, is to harness what he described as “seemingly ignored aspects of the art business such as manufacturing and sales of quality art products, branding and advertising.”
When he joined the United Kingdom-based Fine Art Trade Guild in 2003, the world of art he probably never started opening up. So, it is time to bring all that to bear at home. He discloses his plans to establish an art academy; with the aim of sharpening talents and teaching art business – which students hardly get at the tertiary institutions.
With such vision coming from Ogiugo, who is the President of a group of professional body, Guild of Professional Fine Artists of Nigeria (GFA), add up to the distinct gathering of such groups, when he led GFA to the group’s maiden induction last year, a fresh breath of air appears on the nation’s art landscape.
However, Ogiugo’s dream for the culture sector is similar to the group’s vision. “Maybe there is a similarity, but GFA has so much on the table to offer, and there can never be a clash of interest. The collective effort of the group remains paramount,” he assures.

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