A marriage of watercolour masters, luxury and royalty at The Content

Conducting the Ooni of Ife and other guests round The Content exhibition… in Lagos


Art masters, royalty, art dealers and enthusiasts from across the country recently gathered at Adam and Eve, a one-stop home and office luxury store, at Ikeja GRA, Lagos, for the third edition of The Content. It was an art exhibition of Watercolour Masters for 2018 Spring. The exhibition comes with an assortment of items from household products such as furniture, kitchen and cooking utensils, bedroom pieces, wallpapers, mirrors and other decorative materials that come in alluring designs. It will end on April 30.

Executive Officer, Adam and Eve, Modupe Ogunlesi, explained that art encompasses the unending depth of creativity and abstraction, colours and perspectives, shades and emotions apart from offering solace. According to her, one of the aims of the exhibition is to connect the audience to the artistry innate in them while not forgetting that “at a time in life, we were all once great artists.” She quoted the late Chinese painter, Li Shan, who said: “Art that has depth makes a strong impact on the spirit, emotion, mood and thoughts of human beings.”

Ogunlesi noted that art connects the spirit, emotion, mood and thoughts of man as it offers invaluable opportunities to refresh the mind, adding that the Water Colour Master exhibition of The Content would invoke the unusual presentation of colour skills and beyond. She said it would bring to the fore a pedestal where ‘masters of the art of art’ meet with great works from different experts in different forms – decorations, home, office ware and more.

The highpoint of the opening was the unveiling of the exhibition by Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi, Ojaja II. The royal father, aside appreciating the facility, blessed the organiser and proprietress of the outfit.

While going through the works on display, the Ooni showed he was not only a custodian of Yoruba culture, but also an enthusiast of arts and culture. In each of the masters’ stands, the Ooni displayed a deep knowledge of the works, be they abstract or realism, giving insight to some of their origins, uses and import in the traditional setting.

He was also quick to criticise some of the works that dwell on personalities, landscapes, women, lifestyle, children and the emerging new cities. He called on the painters to put them in the correct perspective for people to learn from them and for generation yet unborn.

While commending the assemblage of works, despite knocking some, the Ooni called on the masters to document their works, saying it would not only boost their general acceptance across the globe, but also help preserve them from pirates and raise their prices. He noted that irrespective of Nigeria’s diversity, there are some elements of cultural uniformity and homogeneity, adding that art has shown some of this sameness and as such could serve as a bridge to unifying the country.

The Ooni stated that Yoruba people love art, as could be seen in the way they live and the things they do. He said he was working hard to preserve Yoruba art and culture for posterity.

According to him, “The Yoruba started art in all its forms, but the west took it from us and blew it up and now treat it as if they started it.”He advised the masters to position their works to boost income and visibility.

ON why they chose watercolour medium to express themselves, the masters – Tayo Adenaike, Sam Ovraiti, Lekan Onabanjo, Olu Ajayi, Victor Obassuyi, Kehinde Sanwo and Tunde Soyinka – said the medium gives strength to their works. Speaking further, Ovariti noted that watercolour helps him to experience and convey to his audience the emotional upsides of colours, thus enjoying transient moments in simple and fast ways. He noted that colour, which is the primary intent for painting, takes precedence in the elements he uses to express himself, adding that he simplifies his experiences and colours as important elements to view his world.

Ajayi, who majorly paints women to pass on his ideas, stated that he highlights these women in ‘Lucky Go Jumoke,’ ‘Behind the Mask’ and ‘The Couple on Sunday’ in black and white to bring out the strength with which women, both in the rural and urban areas, embrace dignity of labour, while providing for their families.

According to him, watercolour on a 300gm paper is the ideal rendition for the works. Working on watercolour, Ajayi noted, has its own challenges, especially in creating white spaces for focal effects, while handling contrast that is hypnotic.

On his preference for form, Brown, with over 20 solo and 18 group exhibitions within and outside the country, said watercolour has unusual dramatic effect on subjects like seascapes, adding that the transparency of the medium is fantastic, but that unlike oil painting, where weak areas may be over-painted, it does not happen with the medium.

He said, “Watercolour flows, when the paper is wet. If one colour touches another, they intermix on the paper in somewhat unpredictable way. This creates fantastic non-linear patterns, but also problems for me since I may need to control value transitions around the features. When you add this to the fact that wet paper is constantly in dynamic state of becoming drier, another level of difficulty arises: timing.”

DELIGHTED that the Ooni unveiled the 2018 Spring Edition of The Content, Ajayi, who spoke on behalf of other masters, noted that the presence of his Oba Enitan Adeyeye Ogunwusi further “amplified the importance of art to our very existence,” saying it is a good pointer in the development of the sector and the importance of art in society. On his Royal Majesty’s call for the proper documentation of the Nigerian and African art for posterity, Ajayi said it was a call in the right direction, adding that it was better late than never.

He stressed that documentation was key if arts were to develop and attract necessary attention the sector deserves. He opined that the Ooni himself must be a good arts lover for him to identify some of the challenges facing the sector as well as proffer solutions. Ajayi said with the royal father adding his voice to some of the challenges facing the sector, good things would soon begin to happen.

Ajayi, however, said some artists were already documenting their works and that with time everyone would understand its import. “We have started as artists to catalogue our works and take records of how our works leave our studios,” he said. “We do this in collaboration with gallery owners, who market them. We have also begun to enlighten upcoming artists to do so as well.”

Ajayi commended the Ooni for criticising some of the works on display, saying it was a good thing, as it was unbiased and would contribute to the development of Nigerian art. He said if the Ooni had gone through the works without making any comment, it would then mean that the works did not have any impact or impression on him, saying, “with his criticisms we then know that he has interacted with the works and the works also have engaged him, which is good for us and the sector.”

Ajayi called on fellow artists to be more dedicated to their career, put in their best and produce works that would further project the country to the outside world.

“Keep painting,” he said. “Keep working with new ideas and be yourself. Let your works help to sustain our tradition and culture and also project us in good light to the outside world.”

Ogunlesi, who was elated that the Ooni honoured her invitation, said it was gratifying that she could have such a personality to The Content Series. She said the quality of artists exhibiting and the impression the Ooni were encouraging and that she could now go ahead with her plans.

“I am satisfied with the artists whose works are on display,” she said. “I am very happy that I have been able to compliment Adam and Eve, a luxury store, with Nigerian art, which is my contribution to ‘Made-in-Nigeria products.”

On art masters on the show, Ogunlesi said, “When you pick a young artist, you do not know if he or she will at some point leave his or her career as a painter for other things. In the business of painting, the longer one stays in it the more he or she would be known internationally. When an artist does a piece of work and leaves it for other business without continuity, he or she might end up having a piece that would go nowhere.

“The artists invited have been in the business for at least 30 years; they are stable and one can easily get their works. I am pleased with them because they are dedicated to art business.”



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