How space enriches contents in Art Work 2018 residency show

Visitors during the exhibition at Kia Motors Showroom

A new curatorial design space with room dividers enhances what could be described as one of the boldest visual expressions so far at the art exhibition-converted Kia Motor Showroom, Victoria Island, Lagos. The Saturday evening welcomes Lagos art enthusiasts to the opening of Art Work 2018, an Arthouse Residency group art exhibition that features paintings and mixed media by Francois Beaurain, Nengi Omuku, Kadara Enyeasi, Thierry Oussou, Jimmy Nwanne, Gloria Oyarzabal Lodge and Christian Newby.

After experimenting with a solo of U.S-based artist, Victor Ekpuk, three years ago, Arthouse Foundation expanded its residency to group participation.

Last year, Tyna Adebowale, Jelili Atiku, Dipo Doherty and Olumide Onadipe were the beneficiaries of the Arthouse Foundation Residency who had a group exhibition under Art Work at the same Kia Showroom.

In a Lagos art hub city where exhibition spaces are being expanded beyond the regular and traditional commercial galleries, the Kia Showroom provides curators with more creative ventilation. But Arthouse Foundation’s past shows have been confined within the existing architectural design of the same space, with exhibits contending with obstructive columns.

This much, the current exhibition’s curator, Joseph Gergel avoids by managing the resplendent creative contents of the exhibits. In either minimalism drawing or photography, a set of monochrome figures by Enyeasi, mounted at the immediate right of the converted space, starts a visitor’s exciting tour of the loaded art pieces on display. Enyeasi’s simplicity in figural rendition makes a near perfect combination with the artist’s choice of monochrome.

Straying into view on the left of the space is a contrasting texture by Oussou. Bold and elaborate mix of painting, drawings come with criss-cross of abstraction and figures, as well as signs and symbols. With non-regular representational forms, the artist generates enough energy for the wall pieces to halt an intended walk-past viewer.

Also exciting is Omuku’s exploration with skills in crowd-effect of faces, using digital image processing. And when she goes painting, her palette attempts to blur the line between abstraction and figural representation.

Close to the other extreme end of the exhibition space, Nwanne exposes what he describes as “uneveness of life” by experimenting with lines textured carton paper as collage on his paintings. It is of note that across cultures and art periods, quite a lot of artists who claim ‘experimental’, have always been on the rampage with mixed media of odd materials on canvas. Such fad comes into one’s thoughts so often as artists increasingly get more adventurous in material application. But for Nwanne, there is a visual narrative expressed with his odd mix. “The carton changes from a container of goods to container of messages here,” Nwanne explains his thickening of a section of the canvas with paper.

“I don’t want to place charcoal on canvas directly, so the carton paper does it.”

Next to Nwanne’s display of paintings, Oyarzabal Lodge populates her wall with collection of archival photographs from Africa. The assemblage, in mostly small pieces, though appears like a section from a different exhibition, it adds heritage value to the Art Work gathering.

With just two pieces of fabrics appropriating a traditional textile, Newby brings a tapestry view through modern and contemporary windows.

Still on repetitive photography style and technique, Beaurain’s Mood Maid and Chidera explore the world of digital imagery, dramatically releasing an animation of illusory movement.

Excerpt from Arthouse’ curatorial statement provides further insight: “With a prompt to experiment with new forms and ideas that were inspired by their experiences in Lagos, these artists question how we interact and move within the urban environment and how cultural identity is framed through complex social and political forces.

“Working across painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, collage, mixed media and textiles, they adopt diverse practices including the exploration of the archive and the experimentation of tactile materials. They raise issues of the fragmented self, of the interactive community, and of our place within the global sphere.”

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