A group of artists met recently in a group exhibition,tagged dear Nigeria, dear friends at Omenka Art Gallery, Lagos. The exhibition which showcased over twenty works by six artists was a charity show for the less-privileged during. The show which was organized by Life Foundation was supported by Alliance Francaise in Nigeria.
The exhibition, according to Elvira Salleras of Life Foundation was to raise funds for the promotion of literacy projects in Makoko, Lagos. There are many economically disadvantaged people living on the fringes in Makoko, and this is the time to show some love to them.
Salleras in humanitarian statement said that, “this is a disadvantaged community on the Lagoon beside Yaba, Lagos. In the last two years with the support of sponsors and volunteers, we have executed various projects in that community including rebuilding a primary school, facilitating two medical missions, organizing seasonal parties and equipping a school library”. The group had also distributed books to some schools in addition to engaging teachers to instruct them. Over time too, sandals have been provided to the children in the schools.
It was in consideration of the urgent need to do more that the six artists in the persons of Abraham Uyovbisere, George Edozie, Alex Nwokolo, Gerry Nnubia, Francis Uduh and Fidelis Odogwu volunteered their artworks to help in the situation. This was why the money realized from the sale of the works was immediately channeled to the Makoko project.
Salleras noted further that the needs of the school aged children of Makoko are enormous and therefore the efforts of the artists in coming at the right time have to be met. “I am confident that hope will be restored. We have made significant progress so far”, she stated. This was why Life Foundation was founded 2006 essentially to help orphans and vulnerable children through formal education and social integration. This was also why the exhibition lasted for about two weeks in order to encourage more art collectors to buy the works. By the time the period was over, it was clear that a lot of people were able to show true love towards the project.
In his own remark, Charles Courdent of Alliance Francaise, Lagos, stated that Lagos is full of arts and musical vibes and if all these are properly utilized, the money in them can be used to better lots of lives. He said: “In Lagos, it is like a strange feeling of being surrounded by energy and creativity. A kind of poetry of life, picturesque scenes, fabulous people. And Arts! Arts everywhere, as a means to escape a difficult daily life. Arts in the garments and dresses, hats and hairstyle, arts in boards of shops and painted walls, a profound aspiration to colour life as much as possible”.
Uyovbisere, one of the exhibiting artists, “the time to show love and give back to the society is now. These children truly and sincerely need our love. And we thank Elvira Salleras of Life Foundation for her care. We also extend our hands of fellowship to the French Cultural Centre for always being there for the less-privileged. The works we have here are among the best by any of us”, he said.
A first class graduate from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, Kaduna State, Uyovbisere’s works have been known to adorn a couple of galleries world-over. A former president of Guild of Professional Fine Artists of Nigeria (GFA), Uyovbisere is deep-rooted in colours. He is known for his deep experiments on female form. He uses the figures of surrealism to depict life; giving total love and form to artworks.
Nnubia, a graduate of the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) Enugu, shows his acrylic flow in which he exhibits a near-total disregard for generally accepted conventions and techniques of practice. In wet dreams, acrylic on canvas, Nnubia draws attention to an ugly settlement where the poor are mostly seen. It is a work that focuses on the need to see these set of people as the dredge of the society. But how long will it take the people to fit into a more civilized society? This is their life; this is the environment they know better. It is in this sort of painting that an artist like Nnubia showcases his preferences “for skillful manipulation of my medium to a liquid viscous flow often assimilating accidental occurrences and temperature adjustments, depending on the effect sought”.
Uduh is a sculptor in a class of his own. Figures of definable forms appeal to him exclusively. He adorns some with stylistic poise, exclusive to him. He uses his Niger Delta background to distinguish his figures, often detailing them with slim figures of style and classical aplomb.
Others with their own classes of works were Odogwu, Edozie and Nwoloko. Each came with works that gave hope to the hopeless and total meaning to the issue of dear Nigeria, dear friends. It is indeed time to say ‘oh dear Nigeria, oh dear friends’.