By Damiete Braide
Four young contemporary Nigerians, a Ghanaian and a Zimbabwean artist, are currently exhibiting 32 works of art in different media at the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos State. The exhibition opened on Sunday, January 9, 2022,and runs till February 5.
The Young Contemporaries 2022 exhibition is organised by The Rele Arts Foundation, and it features Jessica Soares, Ayobami Ogungbe, Neec Nonso, Kenneth Oghenemaro, Michael Jackson Blebo and Nothando Chiwanga.
Some of the artworks include Ayobami Ogungbe’s Another Style, Be Like That, Eleyin ‘Ju ege, Ewa ibeji, Wolimo. Jessica Soares’ include Esther, Her Mother’s Daughter, Make Believe, Nnene, My Mother’s Mother, and The Beret, Uncertain. Kenneth Oghenemaro’s works are Beam Me Up, Finding Air (I) and (II), The Alternate Fall (I) and (II), The Ameliorator. Michael Jackson Blebo’s works include Fully Empty, In My Dreams, Romance of Time, Solitude, and Urban Commons. Neec Nonso’s works are Abiku, Babatunde, The Last Supper, Yéwande, Babarinde and Egungun. Nothando Chiwanga’s works include Hunhu Wandinoda, Kupira gotsi, Mwenga wacho, and Yakakwana here.
Initiated in 2016, the programme identifies, mentors and promotes emerging and early career artists from Africa by equipping them with tools and resources for artistic development. Each year, the Foundation guides artists through its Bootcamp/ residency programme towards the creation of critical projects, encouraging innovative explorations of existing inquiries, as well as the birth of fresh ideas.
This year’s edition presents new works by six artists working across a diverse range of mediums; engaging issues from collective identity to reincarnation, time travel and contemporary beauty standards.
This seventh edition of the Young Contemporaries project presents the audience with a collection of distinct and exciting perspectives on contemporary issues while also drawing attention to the exciting and critical work being done by a younger, emerging generation of contemporary African artists.
Adeoluwa Oluwajoba, the Curator, Rele Gallery, said the two artists participating in the exhibition were non Nigerians, which made it pan African in nature. The boot camp is usually opened around August, and the artists are camped there and given materials to work with for the exhibition.
In Spaces of Scent, Michael Jackson Blebo draws from ant nests in investigating naturally occurring geological formations and their occupation of public space. Exploring the biomorphic, his works examine organic architecture, as well as imagining life behind these structures.
Rooted in her experiences, as well as her mother’s in dealing with Alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss — Chronicles of Esther is Jessica Soares’s reflection on shared trauma, vulnerability and social standards of beauty. Her paintings illustrate a journey across generations, from self-stigma to solace and acceptance.
And Co. is a series of intricately fabricated works by Ayobami Ogungbe that looks into the notion of shared identity and communality, particularly within Nigerian societies. Combining photography, weaving and collage, he chronicles a practice that underlines familial, religious and socio-political affiliations. It highlights codes of belonging and social solidarity, as well as emphasising fashion as self-expression.
Presenting photography, film and performance, Nothando Chiwanga’s work challenges the domestication of wives within the patrilineage of the Maungwe in Rusape, Zimbabwe. Her exhibited series, Muroora Weguta (Shona for ‘Bride of the City’) considers the relationship between patriarchal enforcement and the roles of women in African society.
Neec Nonso’s series, What Was Dead Was Never Dead’! is an ongoing project that treats the belief in reincarnation and posthumous existence of dead relatives. Showcasing still images and augmented reality, the works here juxtaposes life with the afterlife, mining intimate family stories and histories in a bid to exhume memories, popular myths and taboos surrounding death, reincarnation and the popular belief of life after death.
Kenneth Oghenemaro’s presented series Fast Traveller employs elements of science fiction and the futuristic in dialoguing with past events.
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