Young artists project the future from The Root

One of the paintings from The Root exhibition.

In painting, mixed media, video installation and performance art, young artists Tobi Animashaun, Dare Adenuga and Taiwo Aiyedogbon apply contemporary skill, as a navigator to consult the past and secure the future. What the artists consider as “misconception” of the past needs to be corrected, so suggests the group art exhibition titled The Root, shown at National Museum, Onikan, Lagos.

Two factors: youthfulness of the artists and form of art expressed, make the subject of the exhibition a collectively salient attraction. Added to the freshness of the gathering is a young curator, Michael Enejison’s artistic direction in articulating the artists’ projection of the future.

For Animashaun, whose mixed media – in collage and sculptural forms – depict a legendary narrative of his native Ijebu setting, Root in the context of art, he argues, “ are well nourished.”

One of his works titled ‘Ewepesiga,’ a derivative from Ijebu native folktale narrative, revisits a legendary story in Ode Remo. Built with patterned pieces of leaves from waste fabric, among several materials, Animashaun’s ‘Ewepesiga’ brings contemporary situation into appropriation of the pasr.

“The message is that we are so quick to give up and face challenges,” Aimashaun notes. “You are given life for a purpose and that mission has to be met to justify our essence on earth.”

‘Ewepesiga’ as an art that might not appeal to one as a collection piece, but the energy of the artist in erecting the complex relief sculpture is worth critical appreciation.

“The Root is about solving the problem of the past for a brilliant future,” Enejison explains the theme.

And with video installation featuring a couple whose sojourn is enmeshed on the mystical side of life, the artist further explains ‘Ewepesiga,’ saying, “It tells how the couple got the leaves after several trials, then produced the child.”

If Animashaun’s approach to the theme of the exhibition appears a bit on the complex side, Adenuga simplifies it with one of his works titled ‘Run! Run!! Run!!!’ He captures the weakness of people in managing crisis, adding, “A danger that erupts from a spot while we are running around, but as we move from it, we are constituting a danger to ourselves.”

Ever since Jelili Atiku started pushing performance art into the Nigerian art space over 10 years ago, interest in the non-populist visual culture has not been as visible as in recent years. Aiyedogbon is one of the young artists to watch in the genre. A mud bath on the floor of the gallery at National Museum articulates her thoughts on the nation’s recurring leadership question across spheres of endeavour.

“But we need to change the system not just the persons,” Aiyedogbo, perhaps, makes her input into the new political jargon of ‘restructuring’ that seems to be what some observers see as another ‘distraction.’

In art form context, what has the mud colour of water got to do with her theme? “The coloured water is derived from clay, which represents purity, as well as our roots from where everyone came,” she explained.



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