Friday, December 28, 2007

It's Bye To 2007

I am not so glad the year is ending, because certain things refused to happen for me. That notwithstanding, I am glad it is ending, because with it goes the unpleasant sides of the year. Thinking back, I wonder, would the year have been more exciting without the unpleasanties? Maybe Yes, Maybe No.
With time, I have learnt to cherish mistakes and failures, for their abilities to teach what I never can acquire from all the books. Like Alicia Keys sang in her new album, I call them, lesson learnt.
As the year gradually raced towards these last days, there was a time I experienced serious boredom in almost everything that has anything to do with me, and toping the list was my work.
The meditations and placements of my priorities in order of importance helped me understand the reason I dragged my feet for so long, and I sought for solutions.
I am unsure if the solutions I arrived at are it, but I feel consoled and happy that once again, I can summon that boldness, I had years back, and go forward for what I want. Some of my close friends do not think I am doing the right thing, but an adventure free life is what brings boredom.
I am about to enter the world again - I vacated for a while - while I feel excited by the rush of andrenalin, I am a little scared of all the 'what ifs' that are jumping at me, trying to tame me back to being the docile one, accepting what I am given, instead of what I can give myself.
So, as I say goodbye to 2007, I remember the moments of sadness, and thank God for helping me through the dark days. I remember the broken dreams I prayed about and understood the reasons they became broken. I remember the moments of joy that helps me differentiate between my wants and my needs, and I thank God for bringing me back on track, telling me never to forget to ask his opinion again, before venturing out, and with that, I am telling 2008 to bring it on. I am ready! By His Grace!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Telling The African Story In Paintings

Already published in the National Mirror Newspaper


For centuries, visual art has been a strong tool of communication as it tends to portray the mind and thinking of the artist as well as the situation of the time.
Today, it is not so different because more artist have become more open minded about their works.
In the first week of September in Essex England, Redbridge Museum and Central Library will be exhibiting the works of Titus Agbara in a solo show with theme Scapes from Africa.
Art is life and the message it communicates in different languages and manners depending on the viewer is what makes it unique. Hearing tales about Africa can never be as enthralling to Africans resident in Africa as it will be to blacks in the Diaspora, people who have visited Africa, and those still yearning to hear about the continent that is preceded by more negative news than positive ones.
The Nigerian born artist Agbara is on a mission to deliver a message with this exhibition. “As an artist I always enjoy the fleeting essence of nature on our environment,” he said. “It gives me a glimpse of perfect happiness in this life of uncertainties, which is why my future goal is to touch the lives of people, and if through my painting, someone can be emotionally balance in the soul, mind and body, if I can bring joy into their hearts and it is cherished, then I’m happy.”
The artist who says he enjoys combining traveling with art, draws his inspiration from his environment, as is reflected in the works that he will be exhibiting in the show that begins on September 3 till 8, 2007.
“All my life had been in Africa. Moving to an entirely different geographical area in terms of climate, culture and race, definitely bring nostalgic feelings. There is this saying "home sweet home", so I always reminisce home. I have chosen the theme "Scapes from Africa" to reach out to the blacks in Europe and tourist who have visited Africa, through my paintings to see what they have left behind.”
Titus Agbara presents very colourful works that leaves little doubt in the minds of his viewers regarding his statement, as each painting has a story to tell.
Born in Lagos, Agbara is a product of the famous Auchi Art School, graduating in 1999 and honoured for his outstanding performance as the best graduating student. Since then, immediately after his National Youth Service Corporation, NYSC, he decided on being a full time studio artist.
The artist, who was part of last year’s Mydrim Gallery Annual Pastel Exhibition show, sees his coming show in London as an opportunity. “Painting is a visual language, it is what you see and appreciate,” he said. “The galleries in London are there to promote artists and their works if they meet up to their standard and requirement. Most galleries have a definite house style or policy regarding what type of art work they are interested in and it’s a good idea to research this carefully so you can present your work professionally then your success rate will be high. Moreover, there are a lot of opportunities here for artist to explore their talent.”
Just before going to London, Titus Agbara spent a couple of months in Ghana for a residency programme.
“That happened through applications and interviews. I was selected for an art residency programme to Ghana for three months under the tutelage of Prof. Ablade Glover and it was sponsored by the Ford Foundation through Terra Kulture, promoting cross cultural experience between Nigeria and Ghana.”
He described that experience as an avenue that helped to establish links with other artists, organisations and art professionals, establishing a mutual exchange of ideas, experimenting and trying new approaches.
“In the course of the art residency in Ghana, as a landscape and figurative painter, I used it as an opportunity to search for natural places that intrigues me. And to this, arose some of the paintings I have done for this coming exhibition.”
Nevertheless, Agbara isn’t in London just to exhibit for the fun of it and move on to other things or projects. He hopes that with his paintings as a medium, he can communicate effectively and give back to Africa, what is due her.
“For the period of time that I have been in the UK, I have attended workshops, talks and concerts. Some aim at tracing blacks back to their root. And I found out that many have forgotten where they come from. I personally interrogate few people about their background, and really it’s been a long way from home, believe me. Putting up this exhibition will enlighten them and portray natural places in Africa as site where you can find peace and tranquility.”
Although he has had twelve selected group exhibitions, this will be Agbara’s first solo show, after which he will be heading for South Africa, later in the year, for another solo exhibition.
“I’ve been nurturing the idea of a solo since 2004, it lingered till 2006. And when the time came, the exhibition took place but had to be a duo show because I was away in Ghana.”
According to the artist who says he has chosen palette knife painting, he describes himself as an impressionist with a tendency to realism. “People get fascinated by the unusual textural effect, different knife strokes and the variety of interesting edges I could achieve with the knife.”
Getting inspiration is usually no problem for this artist. “My heart is glued to beauty nature has bestowed on human environment. Due to the hustle and bustle in the city, seldom do people take cognizance of the fleeting essence of nature. All these get me inspired in my search for natural places to express my inward mind with colours.”

Rising To The Masters

This piece has been previously published in National Mirror, written by Uzezi Ekere

After twenty two years of being in the art industry, after lots of remarkable group exhibitions, one of the last hosted by the Embassy of Greece in Nigeria, Funsho Omojola, cannot be regarded as a road side artist.
Although he displays his works along the road and has come to be known by a lot of people through the exposure that being on the road side offers, Omojola is more than a class above those other artists who work and display by the road side, because he is the most exhibited artist you will find by a road side.
“You can’t call me a road side artist,” Funsho Omojola said. “One thing about art, since I knew art and learnt about art, I haven’t heard that you cannot display your works anywhere you want or can’t make your money anywhere. The real meaning of road side artists is those people who know absolutely nothing about art; that they are just doing whatever they like, copying and imitating other people’s work. I do my own work and I have proved myself. If I can be called to showcase my works alongside the president of Nigerian artists, to showcase with my lecturer and renowned artists, it means a lot to me. You can make your money anywhere and display your works anywhere as long as you are comfortable.”
Omojola is one of the most accessible artists in the country considering the fact that he chose to do his business of displaying works of art, along a very busy road, in Ikeja, Lagos state.
The painter, native of Ekiti state, has come a long way in the arts from his humbling beginning to stand side by side with those considered as the masters of the game, and in his own right, he too has become a master. If not, why else would he be featured in an exhibition tagged ‘Hellenic Images and Fifty Four Nigerian Masters’, and while else would other artists be tripping to his door, believing that he can help them to break through the doors into the mainstream of Nigerian art?
Omojola’s whole life has become his art which is the only thing that he does for a living, and what he is known for. In 2007 alone, he has featured in three group exhibitions, including one organized by the African Art Resources Centre, AARC, and is preparing for more that are coming up shortly.
“People come to me and I learn more through these interactions,” he said. “That is how I discovered myself. I didn’t have money to rent galleries, so I created a place in other to fend for myself. I thought of it, that if a collector can be making money in the field of arts, I’m an artist, why not make it my own business, so it worked for me. My style is different because I work through what I hear and see, then I put it in practice.”
Although in his own right a successful artist, he has no plans of abandoning displaying his works by the road, where he started from, to go take shelter in a roofed gallery. “I can’t leave this place,” he said with a smile. “This is where I discovered myself. Rather than me leave this place, I will use the place to let people know me more and use that opportunity to showcase other artists. There’s a building close by where I’ve already taken a place for my gallery that will open soon this year, but this place will continue to run because when people move around, they get attracted to what we showcase and they come. From here we can tell then about the gallery and they will come.”
As a painter, his works cut across various media. “I’m more into abstract but my style is changing now to basic designs. It’s a form where by colours are interwoven into one another.”
Omojola can be regarded as offering a huge service to the country, because not only one person has approached him on the grounds that they also do what he does, and most of the time, he shows them the way. But then, majority of then are usually after quick money in the art business. That apart, he is using the sight appeal to get people passing by, interested in art and the beauty in it.
“There are many talented people around, but because of their shyness, they just drift away somewhere and can’t work. They will be telling me that they are artists. Some of them even bring their works to me, but most of them do not believe in art as a work that can sustain them because they want fast money. Art shouldn’t be about money first, they can never get it right that way. I tell them.”