The Opening, an exhibition showcasing the gallery’s existing collection, brings together over twenty artists from the Modern art movement and the Contemporary art, beginning from the periods of the late 20th century to this present day.
This exhibition will feature works from Sam Ovraiti, Rufus Ogundele, Tony Enebeli, Jimoh Buraimoh, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Muraina Oyelami, Tola Wewe, Yomi Momoh, Ben Osawe, Bisi Fakeye, Amos Odion, Akachukwu Emeka, Segun Aiyesan, Toni Oshiame, Ebong Ekwere, Tega Akpokona, Emmanuel Ekefrey, Chike Obeagu, Tony Nsofor, Sokenu Abayomi, and Olaoluwa Qozeem Abdulrahman.
Art in post-independent Nigeria is characterised by a fusion of European and vernacular techniques, then a later movement to break away from traditional European trends to embrace purely traditional styles. This movement beginning the modern era reveals a marriage of the old tradition with the new artistic expression, in terms of ideology, techniques, and tools, by college-trained artists like Bruce Onabrakpeya and Rufus Ogundele. These artists are referred to as modern/master artists.
Contemporary artists occupy the ground floor of the gallery. These are artists of note in the Nigerian art scene of today. From the entrance of the gallery, we see Akachukwu Emeka’s Forms from my sky, two works from the series showing winged creatures and other figures using his signature vat dyeing technique on canvas to create a metaphorical landscape. In Aiyesan Segun’s Victim to Villain from his Dymensiona series, the artist makes use of heavy bas-relief type layering, giving the female figure represented in this work a third dimension. On the opposite movable wall is Tony Oshiame’s Let there be light, we also see sculptures by Ebong Ekwere with the subjects embracing rhythm and movement. Tega Akpokona’s Modern style paintings hang beside Emmanuel Ekefrey’s Molue bus a direct representation of the popular Lagos commercial bus. His works are inspired by the everyday experiences of Nigerians. Tony Nsofor, with his gestural brushstrokes and intense use of colours, occupies one of the larger walls on the contemporary floor. His work is firmly driven by the subconscious and often the story of the work becomes clear to him when he steps back to observe where his thoughts has led him. You will also encounter works by mixed media artists like Chike Obeagu, Sokenu Abayomi, Olaoluwa Qozeem Abdulrahman
Two large works by Sam Ovraiti Victory song and Songs of Gratitude lead the way to the Modern floor. On the Modern floor, we see the works of Rufus Ogundele whose canvases dominated by vibrant colours showcase subjects representing the artists’ strong Yoruba heritage. Hanging beside Ogundele’s work is a protégé of Bruce Onobrakpeya and one of the best-known printmakers in Nigeria, Tony Enebeli. His etchings employ the use of plastocast and metal foil materials to explore the disappearing traditions of his Anioma people. In his works, he captures the rudimentary life of his subjects. Jimoh Buraimoh’s Yoruba style motifs employing the use of beads and oil on board are featured in this exhibition. A piece titled Ascension depicts the ascension of Jesus Christ upon leaving his disciples as narrated in the bible.
Occupying a large wall is Bruce Onobrakpeya, a leading artist of the modern era. Onobrakpeya pioneered bronzed lino-relief and metal foil deep etching in bold patterns and colours to explore Nigerian folklore and contemporary life, his three works on display are of the same medium: copper and metal foil relief on board. Muraina Oyelami’s pigmented oil on board paintings are simple looking but greatly textured and detailed upon close inspection. His two portrait pieces of women hang side by side each other. On another wall on the modern floor are the works of Tola Wewe and Yomi Momoh. Both artists are known to be fluid, working primarily in painting, they have a distinct signature look to their figures, engaging in daily activities surrounded by rural settings. Ben Osawe’s bronze head sculpture sits below one of his drawings. On this floor we also see a towering wood sculpture, the Sunflower by the artist Amos Odion, occupying a full wall area.
The connections and principles that produce a collection, contain premises and associations, making art collection a method of producing new knowledge. It is on this belief that the Affinity Art Gallery collection was found. Revealing the inspiration and ever-present underpinnings of our common history. The gallery’s activities and collection will continue to grow with an emphasis on artists and the artworks created within the African community.