DECEMBER 15-23, 2012
From December 15 to 22, Omenka Gallery and Svengali Designs will present Convergence, an exhibition to showcase the best of art and design from Nigeria. Conceived as an annual event, it features furniture design by Anselm Tabansi, American artist; Gary Stephens, Ghanaian artist; Kofi Agorsor, and 9 leading contemporary Nigerian artists; Duke Asidere, Olu Ajayi, Zinno Orara, Gerry Nnubia, Onyema Offoedu-Okeke, Fidelis Odogwu, Jefferson Jonahan, Uche Edochie, Ola Balogun, and Abass Kelani.
In the artistic world, fine art and design are regularly pitted against each other. Debates on the relationship between art and design usually conflict between points that design is a category of art and is therefore not distinct from it, or else that design is essentially different from art. Though these fields seem to be at odds with one another, they are in fact basically identical and rely on related ideas. However, it is important to note that while art and design are interchangeable agents of visual communication, they are not the same. Regardless of the distinction between them, together they convey two fundamental intellectual trends which harmonize the components of human intelligence.
The works presented here encompass several themes from the economic to the socio-political and religious. Among the artists of the exhibition, Duke Asidere paints with an element of surprise, injecting irony and humour into his commentary on the everyday human drama that surrounds him. He has recently turned to car enamel paint, which he applies with a spray gun to produce emotionally charged works that retain figurative subject matter, and at the same time emphasize abstract qualities.
Nigerian interior designer, Anselm Tabansi like Demas Nwoko has achieved recognition for his role in employing modern techniques in shifting popular taste to a cleaner, bolder, modern look while retaining African elements. In the last few years, Tabansi has emerged as one of the most prolific and imaginative furniture designers in Nigeria.
Gary Stephens is known for his drawings which explore contemporary trends in the African tradition of hair braiding, remarkable for their optical illusions and meticulous craftsmanship with long vertical folds and string systems. Stephens’ paintings engage urban African style expressed on ankara fabric. He exploits the bold patterns and colours of ankara by laying rich abstract colours and patterns on the fabric before over-painting his figures. The result is a sense of dynamism, especially when his creations are viewed from different angles.
Olu Ajayi is famous for his evocative landscapes, searching portraits and socio-political commentary achieved with sensuous colours and sweeping strokes which may be viewed as the culmination of a painter’s quest for empirical truth.
Zinno Orara is proficient in a large variety of media including oils, acrylics, watercolours and pastels and has in recent times incorporated found objects in his paintings. He works in two broad representational styles; a calm realism and in a more expressive, abstract, cubist manner, oftentimes fusing the two. Recently, his works have assumed a more philosophical approach, with an investigation into the human body and nature.
Gerry Nnubia offers critical possibilities for painting, and explores the tensions between form and formlessness vital to the tenets of modernism with his “acrylic flow”. Nnubia’s technique involves the skilful manipulation of his medium to a liquid viscous flow often assimilating accidental occurrences and temperature adjustments, depending on the effect sought.
Onyema Offoedu-Okeke’s themes revolve around marketplaces, boudoirs, urban fashion in West Africa and daily life on the streets. He works in acrylics and his paintings are characterized by a unique quality of lines influenced by his background in architecture. His style of painting involves the combination of broad washes and drips of colour applied in layers, which imitates tapestry and gives his work an appearance of wetness. Principal forms are then accentuated with broad lines in blocks of complimenting and contrasting colours.
Kofi Agorsor’s paintings embrace several distinct styles. These divergent visual registers are all brought together loosely by squiggly agitated lines, which betray a background as a graphic designer. Influenced strongly by jazz music and employing satire, his works are largely commentaries on Ghanaian society.
Metal sculptor, Fidelis Odogwu incorporates the aura and essence of African symbolism and the purity of modern forms and thus represents a synthesis of the historical past and the technological advancement of man.
Jefferson Jonahan is one of Nigeria’s leading pastel artists and draws on historical and mythological references in much of his work. His technical ability is evident in his reproductions of nature with exactitude, though he often times exaggerates hands, limbs or other facets of his figures to achieve a sense of heightened drama.
Ola Balogun’s works depend on a more vigorous palette to model form and convey meaning. This approach emphasizes his links with the famous Auchi colourist school and his affinities with Fauvism.
Uche Edochie is concerned with the role of the individual in the re-invention of his reality. Recently, Edochie’s themes have ranged from confrontational political satires to social commentary. They also investigate the inevitable destiny of human relationships.
Abass Kelani engages identity and the shared history of man and machines through a combination of diverse media including disused printing machine parts, and collages of magazine cut-outs.
This collaboration between art and design seeks to emphasize the similarities between the two disciplines of expression, whilst highlighting the individuality of each. By pairing art and design, we collectively demand for local creative products, and in so doing, contribute to an industrious Nigeria.
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High-resolution images and more information on the artists are available on request.