By Chris Onuoha
The National Gallery of Arts, Nigeria in its con-tinued effort to document prominent artists in print, and to revitalise the fine art sector, has documented the life and works of a renowned artist and accomplished educationist, Timothy Adebanjo Fasuyi in a book presentation.
Presentation of the book to the public held at Tafa Gallery, Ikeja, Lagos on Saturday, April 22 attracted notable names in the art community. They are the Chairman, Governing Board, National Gallery of Arts, Ambassador Umaru Azores Sulaiman, Dr. Paul Chike Dike, former Director- General, National Gallery of Arts as book presenter, Abdullahi Muku, D-G, National Gallery of Arts as chief host, Professor Bruce Onobrakpeya, while Prince Yemisi Shyllon, foremost Art collector in Nigeria as the chairman of the launch.
Others include Prof. Jerry Buhari, representing Prof. Adamu Baikie, former Vice-Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Jerome Elaiho, Chief Mrs Aina Oni-Okpaku, owner, Quintessence Gallery Lagos, Oliver Enwonwu, President, Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA) and a host of others.
In his brief remark, Ambassador Umaru Suleiman extolled the enigmatic and dogged spirit of Fasuyi. “Pa Timothy Adebanjo Fasuyi is an Art educator par excellence. He is dynamic, creative and above all passionate. We are enthralled by his dogged spirit. At 83, he is still very active energetic and restless- traits normally reserved for the very young. We salute you and wish you many years of services to the arts and God. I am therefore glad that the National Gallery of Art has been able to document this enigma for today and generations unborn. It is a collector’s item which I recommend to all artist art collectors and the public at large.”
Meanwhile, Ambassador Sulaiman disclosed that the NGA board in its inaugural sitting resolved that the board will do all it can to ensure that the organization is fully empowered to actualize its mandate. He also stated that the board will work towards actualising the building of befitting gallery and ensure that the present effort of the National Assembly to review the Act setting up the NGA is realised to revitalise the art sector.
Professor Bruce Onobrakpeya while saluting his contemporary said: “The celebrant today, Chief Banjo is fortunate. He fought and won respect for Nigerian artists. I thank the National Gallery of Arts for giving us another great document that will move Nigerian art forward.”
Still not satisfied with the art sector in Nigeria, Prof. Onobrakpeya stated: “I will like to use this medium to ask the Federal Government to ratify the art policy of Nigeria so that art can bring benefits to the country. About insurance for the artists, cultural policy and endowment will take care of that if implemented. When Nigeria celebrated FESTAC in 1977 here in Lagos, some of us the young artists were very naïve and never asked for anything. Now we are asking the Federal Government to build for the Society of Nigerian Artist a befitting secretariat where they can practise. Art is not only for the money but has a spiritual side to give us identity, prosperity and so on. It is rather shameful for a country like Nigeria to be without a proper gallery. Many years ago, they showed us a drawing of National Gallery and years after, they are still carrying the plan about,” Onobrakpeya said.
Others praised a man considered as ‘Principal of Principals’ in the educational sector, and a foremost pacesetter in the Nigerian contemporary art. Consequently, lack of documentation of him prompted the National Gallery of Arts to research on him since 2015. The book focuses on his birth and parental background, early life, formal education and training, career, his art studio practice, and his gallery (Tafas Legacy Art Gallery) with contributions from art scholars such as Emeritus Professor Ola Oloidi, Prof. Jerry Buhari, Mike Omoighe and others. The idea is to put him in the limelight in relation to his contributions to art and art education in Nigeria and the global scene.