The Insanity Exhibition, an exhibition of hypperealistic art in Nigeria, featuring 10 young talented artist finally drew its curtains to a close on friday the 9th of December 2016. The exhibition which opened on the 29th of November saw amazing artistry from a variety of ten exhibiting artists;
Seyi Alabi, Raji Abdul-Gaffar Bamidele, Ifeyinwa Joy Chiamonwu, Adefemi David, Ayo Filade, Kenechukwu Nwadiogbu, Alex Peter, Arinze Stanley, Isimi Taiwo and Oscar Ukonu all brought in their A game. Each exhibiting piece of theirs being manifest to months of hard work and insightful learning.
Kuma Nation in attendance, and having had a brief chat with seven of the artists, bring you their works, and answers to questions that informs their art. They all spoke on a general concern of the unavailability of art supplies in these parts and the hike in prices of the few available; a major challenge they face with their art as they have to resort to ordering these materials outside the country and wait weeks, months even, for their arrival.
In all, they each termed the exhibition a huge success with all of them having most of their exhibited pieces Sold Out. They are excited at the reception their works, Hyperealistic art in general, is getting and share a common hope of its survival in the Nigerian art scene.
Kuma Nation also met with Mr Oliver Enwonwu, owner of the Omenka Gallery/host to Insanity Exhibition who expressed to us his excitement at the success of the exhibition, and his assured hope in the new generation of Nigerian artists.
- Raji Bamidele aka Radelert
On arrival, the first exhibiting artist we came in contact with was Raji Bamidele and although this hadn’t been our first encounter with him, we were particularly thrilled as we had followed the teasers he had dropped on his page leading to the time of the exhibition.
For Raji, it is all about getting creativity out of his imagination. There is the continuous quest to create, to outdo the previously existing comfortability and challenge himself, his imagination and his art.
PUZZLED REALISM- This terms Raji’s exhibited pieces. The beauty which is most prominent in the form they take. His works, a fixture of six to eighteen panels, each carrying parts of his subjects but whole together like a solved puzzle game. A style that tackles the theme of resilience in the human spirit.
With his largest piece titled AKABALAYE, Life in Ladders, Raji captures the progression of the human existence from a place of adolescence to adulthood and then old age. He captures the ups and downs that characterizes this progression.
Raji believes one cannot place a value on art, “Art never depreciates, it only appreciates”.
“The experimental phase in an artist’s life should not be missed as it is in this period the artist finds his core” Isimi Taiwo
Next, we met up with Isimi Taiwo who had began his art journey as a kid, sketching cartoon characters on paper as most of us were wont to do. He started to take his art professionally at the University, a period during which he made a change of course from Engineering to Creative Arts, a very bold move to find satisfaction.
Isimi describes his art as a journey, a journey to experiment and to always without restrictions find newness. Hence, his openness to learning even beyond his already known craft.
Hyperrealism he says is a build-up on photorealism, on realism- heightened. It always starts with photorealism and the only thing that stands one hyperrealistic artist from the other is the concept behind their art, the story they tell, and at other times the techniques applied.
Before leaving us, Isimi advices artists to focus on their primary materials; Patience, thoroughness,a keen sense of observation and an attitude of not accepting that ‘it is okay’. He adviced artists to strive for perfection at all times. .
3. Kenneth Nwadiogbu aka Kenart
We also caught up with Kenneth who stated that the major challenge he faces with practicing his art is finding that balance between it and his studies. This he admits can be very tasking as both require a whole lot of time.
Speaking on his journey as an artist, Kenneth first began drawing portraits of people some four years ago during his one year wait before gaining admission into the University. Looking at how far he has come within that time frame and with a practice he started out of sheer boredom, it would be right to say consistency and dedication really do pay off.
Speaking further on his exhibited pieces, Kenneth tells us how his works were birthed out of pressure; the pressure to do something outstanding and mind-blowing. The pressure he says, made him do better. Each piece he exhibited is inspired by his lifestyle and the perception of those around him.
He believes that there are loads of amazing talents but all lacking a strong support system. In the nearest future, Kenneth wishes to experiment with contemporary videos, sculpting, and installations.
4. Joy Chiamonwu
“At first sight, some spectators often underrate my ability as an artist. They make doubting comments on my works trying to confirm if indeed ‘a female’ created them. It is a thing they do unconsciously you see, they find it difficult to reconcile my talent with my gender. And while they mean no harm, I find it offensive sometimes.” Joy
Joy, in our discussion and through the persistence of her craft in the art scene makes a case against the gender bias the society has long conditioned the minds of many to, consciously or unconsciously.
In a scene mostly dominated by men, Joy is relevant. She holds to the belief that drive is core to every artist, that what drives one artist to create is different from that which drives the next, and so, to create efficiently, one has to find that drive and hold on to it.
Joy calls for more recognition of contemporary art in these parts and hopes for a break-away from the prejudice most Nigerian parents have towards art being taken up as a profession by their wards. This, she says, is still very much an issue.
In all, Joy is very much appreciative of the support she has and is receiving from her family; her mother, a strong pillar, often helping with her financial needs for art supplies and safekeeping her tools when she looses them.
5. Oscar Ukonu
Oscar is a visual artist. He tells us a profound story; an experience he had with a friend and their visit to one of the most prominent auction houses in Lagos to auction a hyperrealistic piece created by the said friend. The response they got was dampening to say the least, something about hyperrealism not having a market in the Nigerian art scene.
The success of the Insanity Exhibition makes Oscar regurgitates this story to us. He see progress.
Oscar began his journey as a visual artist three years ago. He works with ballpoint pen on paper. For his exhibited pieces, both from a series he titles DIALOGUE, Oscar addresses the theme of self awareness, of personal identity and how they both evolve with social facets; the internet, social media.
In creating, Oscar first finds his concept, personally takes the photograph of his reference source and then studies it for a couple of days before getting to work with his pen .
As a student of Architecture it had taken him a while to communicate his course of studies with his art. Oscar believes that there is a movement of Non-traditional art in the Nigerian art scene and it is a movement of value. Hence, non-traditional artists should not hold off till the market gets big because there are people who make it happen regardless.
6. Seyi Alabi
Seyi is a storyteller who loves to tell stories through his art. Seyi started to explore hyperrealism a year ago. He holds on to the belief that attention to the most minuit of detail is what makes a great hyperrealistic art.
With one of his piece being exhibited, Seyi broaches the theme of value and its appreciation as it transcends generations. His aim? To rejuvenate the spirit of appreciation to the things that once mattered, things that had great value back then and once played important roles to the development of this generation. The image of a lantern in his piece, an open book and kids sleeping off by the side highlights this narrative.
Staring at Seyi’s piece brought to us a feeling of nostalgia as it captures a moment experienced by many growing up. Starring at his piece right there in the exhibition room, we began to reminisce on these old memories and show appreciation for the first time in a long while the value these ‘outdated’ things possessed.
Seyi holds on to believe; believe in himself and in his craft.
7. Alex Peter
With Alex, we went on a spiritual journey of some sort. Alex who is an abstract artist started his experimentation with hyperrealism in 2013.
For the exhibition, Alex dared a most different approach to hyperrealism, he explored a technique that was itself new to him. PYROGRAPHY- with this art form Alex uses a razor blade to draw on burnt wood; etching the burnt surface out peice by peice, highlighting the subject of interest.
The process for him begins first with sketching his subject on the flat wood surface before burning it with a blowlamp, and then, the scrapping begins. This process we could best describe as rebirth of beauty from ashes, from ‘ruins’.
Alex titles his series Blurred Identity, an exploration of the people/energy that work tirelessly behind the scenes, the ones which are often forgotten and at other times not acknowledged. The ones that should matter most. He further explores the dynamics of humanity, of how people oftentimes see just the physicality; the fragility and challenges of others. All the while blinded to the resilient spirit within that drives them to survival.
It took us more than a while before we could finally let go of Alex, to say we were awed by his works and the depth that comes with them would be an understatement.