Remember the Future
Lately, the art scene in Nigeria has been buzzing with immense creativity. While art has always been a mode of expression, it can also be a medium of communication and most importantly a visual presentation which often depicts thought provoking ideas from an artist’s perspective.
Nigerian culture is filled with complex social issues and has always been recognised as a brilliant source of inspiration for artists. A few years ago, Yinka Shonibare became widely recognised for using ankara fabric to draw links between the Nigeria cultural identity and colonisation. More recently, Dennis Osadebe took a modern approach in his Remember The Future exhibition, where he explored links between technology and society.
The solo exhibition was viewed at the Red Door Gallery from the 3rd to 11th of June. The acrylic on canvas paintings explored a futuristic notion of Nigeria in space, while questioning the “reality” of the contemporary Nigerian society including themes such as power, gender, sports, family, social class and religion. The artist describes being inspired by a CNN program, which expanded on Nigeria making progress on their quest into space. Osadebe began to wonder and ask, “What would this government-funded rocket look like?”
Osadebe explained, “The thought of venturing into space exploration seemed to me to be a far-fetched idea.” Throughout his work, elements of everyday life in Nigeria are represented such as unfinished projects, fuel scarcity and mainstream African fabrics. The underlying idea depicted in his work revolves around Nigeria’s past and its potential link to the future, as though a warning or a deep-rooted question asking, could history repeat itself?
With the titles of his pieces, Osadebe highlights various aspects of Nigeria’s society. For example, in his piece titled Oil Rules The Nation, the artist depicts the idea of oil as a symbol of the Nigerian identity in the past, present and future. He explains the concept of oil being so symbolic due to the country’s dependence on it. He says, “Since it was discovered the future of Nigeria has been so strongly interlinked with the future of oil. Furthermore, are we going to keep making the mistake of being dependent on these resources and will we ever learn to create a better future for ourselves?”
Finally, as Osadebe’s work points the viewers directly towards Nigeria’s quest to venture into space, the audience is forced to reflect on the present state of the country as well as it’s problematic society. Ultimately, when the viewer comes to an understanding of the message, it is clear that Nigeria must learn from the past and de