Friday, August 14, 2015

Issues in Contemporary Nigerian art – a Book Launch

The much awaited book - ‘Issues in Contemporary Nigerian art’ which was conceptualised and compiled by the Nigerian Artist, Juliet Ezenwa Maja-Pearce, was finally brought to birth as artists and art buffs, including the media, were invited to be part of the unveiling in a colourful public event.

Thus practitioners of the arts in various genres made up of mainly the visual artists, writers, theatre practitioners, photographers, critics, art buffs including renowned patrons and people from the academia were all there to grace the occasion of the launch of the book 'Issues in Contemporary Nigerian Art (2000-2010)' conceived and compiled by Juliet Ezenwa Maja Pearce. The event came up at the Yemaja Art Gallery under a relaxed airy atmosphere, in Lagos on Saturday, 08 August, 2015. The book launch also included a round table discussions and debate in an event that was chaired by Dr. (Mrs.) Peju Layiwola, Head of Department of Creative Arts in University of Lagos.

The book is introduced in detail by accomplished artist and scholar – Prof. Dele Jegede, and I think it is unique in its structure and content. It is a rich compilation of articles and essays dutifully and beautifully put together in a variety of forms; it comprised contributions in both artworks and intellectual discourse involving artists, writers, art patrons, academics, etc.  Prominent players in the industry - too many to mention were all there; apart from the special guests and speakers, were also Prof. Bruce Onobrakpeya – a renowned printmaker, Mr. Kolade Osinowo – foremost artist, Mr. Tam Fiofori - ace photographer, Mr. Oliver Enwonwu – notable art administrator, Bisi Silva – popular curator, Sam Ovraiti – painter of note, Ndidi Dike – celebrated sculptor, and many more. Many were at the launch which saw an impressive turn out of professionals from all walks of the creative industry in Nigeria.
With renowned artist, Prof. Bruce Onobrakpeya and two colleagues
Speakers for the day were renowned eggheads in the profession; they were Professor Freeborn Odiboh, historian and lecturer at the University of Benin, and Tobenna Okwuosa, a lecturer at the Niger Delta University in Bayelsa State. After the formal speeches, discussions and stimulating debates ensued with reactions and counter reactions from the floor of members as well as the high table. Notably, Bisi Silva almost gave a speech as she took everyone on a pensive journey – a panorama of the roles and impacts of Nigerians in this industry; she argued that Nigerian artists, writers and administrators have made immense contributions even on the global stage, stating that they are proudly holding their own, citing examples of the works and contributions of Okwui Enwezor, Yinka Shonibare et al.

On his part, Tam Fiofori minced no words in lambasting Nigerians who have gone abroad and have become self- acclaimed experts and jurors over the lot that is the practice of art and critical writings emanating from Nigeria. Fiofori thinks these breed of Nigerians have not helped matters as they stand aloof to pontificate over the Nigerian, nay African art scene, considering that they are not even very much in touch with home; he thinks rather that most of them are ‘failed artists’. The book was critically and well reviewed by Kehinde Adepegba of the Lagos State Polytechnic, Ikorodu.

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