When Osogbo artists dazzled in Abuja

When Osogbo artists dazzled in Abuja When Osogbo artists dazzled in Abuja

February 12, 2017 Akintayo Abodunrin Arts and Culture One of the displayed art work

The '50 Years of Osogbo Art' exhibition, held at Thought Pyramid Art Centre, was a successful show that further reinforced the talents of the artists

IT was an assemblage of master artists with refreshing unique styles at the Abuja leg of the 50th anniversary of the Osogbo Artists Movement, held from January 24 to 29.

Having begun in the ancient cultural city on January 17 with an exhibition and launch of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding's (CBCIU) journal and a DVD of Orisa Dances, the celebration train moved to the FCT and stopped at Thought Pyramid Art Centre, where hundreds of art aficionados and heads of parastatals, under the Federal Ministry of Culture, converged to view the artworks on display.

Titled 50 Years of Osogbo Ar', the show, which ran for a week, featured works by the living and late foundation members of the Osogbo Artists Movement, including Jimoh Buraimoh, Muraina Oyelami, Adebisi Fabunmi, Taiwo Olaniyi Osuntoki (Twins Seven-Seven), Rufus Ogundele and Jacob Afolabi.

The first four were all products of the 1964 training organised by German teacher and anthropologist, Ulli Beier and his wife, Georgina, while the last two were products of the earlier 1963 workshop. They are collectively regarded as the founding members of the Osogbo Art School and their works, which were highly commended at the show, draws heavily from Yoruba traditions and beliefs, as well as contemporary issues.

Fabunmi, for instance, showcased three untitled linocut prints of natural and supernatural elements, while Buraimoh kept things simple and attractive with brightly coloured bead paintings. Some of the artist's interesting works were Peacock showing the giant bird in its resplendent glory, Animals in the Zoo which had hints of the metaphysical and Jolly Friends.

Oyelami, on his part, stuck to his oil paintings and had works including Pensive Mood, Single Parent, Princess' and Village Girl'on show.

A phenomenon in his lifetime, the late Twins Seven-Seven wasn't short of admirers at the show as most viewers found his woodcuts and paintings inspired by Yoruba mythology attractive. Some of his old works exhibited included The Blessed Voyager (pen/ink on woodcut), Village Life under Cocoa Tree (pen/ink on woodcut) and The Entertainers (pen/ink on fabric).

Ogundele's works displayed were Ladies Congress, Masks' and Anthill in the Desert while Afolabi had The Jungle Spirit and Dancing Masquerades, reflecting Yoruba mythology.

Speaking on the significance of the show, ex-Osun State governor and Chair, Governing Board of the CBCIU, the promoter of the celebration, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, said given its innocuous roots, no one could have imagined that Osogbo art would become a global phenomenon.

"Without any doubt, the celebration of 50 years of Osogbo School of Art is significant, as what started as an innocuous experiment on the elasticity of the creative mind and its innate ability to adapt to the vicissitudes of the environment has become a global phenomenon," began the Okuku prince who was represented by the CBCIU Board's Secretary, Prince Femi Adelegan.

Oyinlola further noted that the exhibition was also a celebration of the fertile imagination of Beier, Susanne Wenger and Georgina Beier because, "It is very interesting that their experiment in informal education metamorphosed into an art movement that has survived for more than half a century. From early to middle 60s, just after Nigeria's independence in what we can truly call an age of innocence, Osogbo art began to have a trademark that uniquely distinguishes it from other art forms. The Osogbo artistic movement, as an informal art offering, coincided with the advent of the formal art school referred to as the Zaria Rebels. However, this did not in any way diminish its independent accomplishment."

He added that most importantly, "Osogbo Art has boosted the corpus of knowledge in the field of creative arts and validated the richness and vitality of Yoruba culture as part of the common heritage of mankind, so much so that Osogbo art has become a trademark comparable to any other art form anywhere in the world. This is why we celebrate the 50 years of such a unique brand."

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, commended the beautiful artworks on display while also praising the resourcefulness of the artists. He reiterated that the Federal Government was looking to the creative sector as an alternative source of income and prayed for long life and good health for the artists. Mohammed was represented at the occasion by the Director General of the National Gallery of Arts, Abdullahi Muku.

Acting Director General of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, Mariel Rae-Omoh, highlighted the importance of art, noting that "it is life." She added that, "real art is what we have in Africa; in fact, Africa has a great future with the arts."

Though it was a working day, the quality attendance at the exhibition opening and the involvement of school children attests to the public's enduring fascination with Osogbo arts and the artist's continued relevance in Nigeria's arts landscape. Attachments area

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