An art exhibition showcasing recent works by contemporary artists, Tony Nsofor, and Ibe Ananaba opens at Temple Muse, Lagos, on November 2.
The exhibition, showcasing 49 paintings and mixed media works by two artists, introduces art enthusiasts to the very heart and pulse of Nigerian creativity responding to global issues such as migration and the effect of social media on inter-personal communication.
”Both artists creatively explore human relationships and pressing global issues through strikingly diverse and engaging styles that express an exciting range of honest and bold contemporary creativity,” says Sandra Mbanefo-Obiago, the exhibition’s curator and an award-winning documentary filmmaker.
“Ananaba and Nsofor are artists with a critical eye and social conscience who are using their creativity as vehicles for advocacy through artistic expression.”
Ananaba, 39, who graduated with Distinction from the Institute of Management & Technology, Enugu, in 1999, and currently is the Art Director for leading advertising company, Insight Communications Ltd., is an experienced cartoonist, fashion illustrator, graphic designer and painter.
He presents a diverse body of 28 recent works using watercolour, acrylic, oil and charcoal on paper and canvas to showcase his artistic range; his showcase includes Ananaba’s popular portrait and fashion paintings, as well as dynamic new works from his Yeah-Yeah series which capture and immortalize the spirit of Nigeria’s afrobeat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
Ananaba’s nine watercolour and two oil on canvas paintings depict Fela in his legendary performance poses as well as the mood and energy of the pulsating music complete with steam, sweat, and smoke rising through the colours.
The Fela series is presented in a pop-up space at Temple Muse in which the Yeah Yeah works are displayed alongside Fela’s famous quotations which Ananaba has written across stark white walls.
Ananaba says he draws inspiration for his works from both literature and poetry as well as spoken word and rap music.
“I appreciate word plays a lot,” he says.
“It helps in developing the power of imagination. Poetry keeps my brain alive and active as I try to mentally visualize figures of speech in use.”
‘All things bright and beautiful’
Ananaba’s creative world is counterbalanced by his contemporary, Tony Nsofor, who graduated from the University of Nigeria in Nsukka in 1997 where he was mentored by Nigeria’s famous art professors, El Anatsui and Obiora Udechukwu.
Nsofor’s bold, at times prolific, frenzied and complex, at times calm, measured, elongated abstract expressionist style has been honed over years working as a writer, photographer, poet and painter, according to Ms. Mbanefo-Obiago.
“Nsofor’s cerebral ethos is punctuated by his loose and measured, vibrant strokes which communicate multi-dimensional human pressures,” she says.
“His dense abstract works comment on a myriad of global issues including the effects of bad leadership and the anguish of the world’s displaced people.”
For instance, in Displaced With Nowhere Like Home, he paints elongated, grey and black mask like faces in which the despair and despondency of the internally displaced masses affected by the insurgency in northern Nigeria is palpable through long, downward sweeping strokes.
In Red Boats, Nsofor explains “empty red boats floating on a mysterious, bloodied sea echo the recent migration crisis that has placed a burden on the conscience of the world.”
Nsofor studied Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, majoring in Painting.
He says he is inspired by “all things bright and beautiful.”
“Going through my oeuvre, you find that I have been intrigued by human relationships and the expressions of emotions that emanate,” says Nsofor, 42.
“I also love fashion and style. I work inside of my love. It is easier. At the end of the day, if no one buys the work, I remain happy because I enjoyed the process.”
The exhibition is supported by Veuve Cliquot and runs at Temple Muse until November 25th, 2015.