Fresh on the heels of the Nigerian art community celebrating the country’s first pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale in Italy, an exhibition of sophisticated modernist paintings has opened in Lagos, presenting 34 paintings by emerging female artist, Titi Omoighe.
The exhibition, Modern Interpretations, curated by SMO Contemporary Art at Temple Muse, offers a rare perspective on traditional African forms from a little known academic whose interpretation of traditional philosophy, literature, and cultural identity, shows a refreshing maturity and nuanced artistic breadth.
Omoighe’s works are divided into two broad categories: her recent works show her exploring abstract techniques using splashes and dribbles of colour, reminiscent of Jackson Pollock’s style, and drawing on her fascination with water based pigments and the linear features on traditional textiles, pottery and wall paintings.
While her earlier, more impressionistic Hunter Series was inspired by D.O. Fagunwa’s Yoruba literary classic, ‘Forest of a Thousand Daemons’, which was eventually translated into English by Nigeria’s Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka.
Titi’s canvases illustrate the tale of a group of hunters as they journey through an enchanted forest on a quest to save humanity. She draws deeply from the fantastic world of Yoruba mythology and translates them into vibrant paintings with elongated human forms.
“Titi’s canvases reflect both the physical action of characters in search of higher meaning while engulfed in “other-worldly” adventure, as well as deftly draws us into the emotional and spiritual landscapes of memory, longing and revelation,” said Sandra Mbanefo Obiago, the exhibition’s curator.
Modern Interpretations provides a fresh perspective on traditions in which the “African essence” and way of life is presented through nuanced indigenous symbols.
Titi’s fascination with Nigeria’s ancient Benin Kingdom in Edo State, shows an insightful analysis of complex philosophy and forms. We follow Titi’s lines and recognize a gesture or scene, the mysterious pose of a transcendental masquerade, the royal gaze of a king on his subjects, the repose of a hunter after the kill, or the complex rules and rites of traditional youth groups vis-a-vis the hierarchy of elders and indigenous social systems.
“If Titilayo follows in the footsteps of the Abstract Expressionists, she takes their ideas in a new direction, imbuing them with a distinctly personal flavor and African subject matter,” comments Dr. Jean Borgatti, Consulting Curator of the Fitchburg Art Museum in the United States, and Professor at the University of Benin, where Omoighe is currently pursuing her doctoral studies.
Titi Omoighe is an academic with the soul of a dreamer. After graduating in 1989 with an HND in Fine Art from the Yaba College of Technology, she worked for over 20 years as a set designer for the National Television Authority in Lagos and Abeokuta.
In 2013, she returned to her alma matter “Yaba Tech”, considered one of Nigeria’s leading art schools, to teach drawing and painting. Omoighe admits being influenced by the College’s most famous faculty, renowned artist Professor Yusuf Grillo, a pioneer member of the legendary Zaria Art Society, and one of the most important influencers of Nigerian contemporary art.
“Titi is a hunter and she is really catching what she aims at,” commented Professor Yusuf Grillo on seeing her exhibition pieces. “Her works are very deep, interesting, beautiful, thoughtful and very mature. ”
“Titi’s works are sophisticated and have a global appeal,” said Avi Wadhwani, CEO of Temple Muse, an avant-garde design space and Lagos creative-hub.
“We are delighted to present an emerging artist with strong historical sensibility, who is able to present Nigeria’s rich culture through a finely honed, fresh creative voice, which many have never heard before.”
The exhibition is sponsored by luxury house, Moet Hennessey, and runs until August 30, 2017.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This Press Release was sent to PREMIUM TIMES by the curator of the exhibition – Sandra Mbanefo Obiago.