By Chinasa Afigbo
Books, plays and musicals have been written for Queen Moremi Ajasoro, the historical Ife heroin who sacrificed all she had to save her people. Now, Alexis Galleries and the House of Oduduwa have partnered 28 Masters to capture the same story in visual arts.
Yesterday, Alexis Galleries, Victoria Island, Lagos opened an exhibition of the products of that creative endeavor titled ‘A View from the Masters’ which will run till June 14. The exhibition is also expected to be a traveling show, which means it will move from Lagos to London, New York, Dubai, Lebanon, and other cities.
The masters who were chosen based on their years of expertise and experience for this ionic exhibition include Bruce Onobrakpeya, Kolade Oshinowo, Tola Wewe, Edosa Ogiugo, Bunmi Babatunde, Abiodun Olaku, Gbenga Offo, Reuben Ugbine, Chinwe Uwatshe, Sam Ovraiti, Duke Asidere, Dominique Zinkpe, Fidelis Odogwu. Others are Sam Ebohon, Tony Nsofor, Alex Nwokolo, Diseye Tantua, Mavua Lessor, Segun Aiyesan, Ato Arinze, Zinno Orara, Joshua Nmesirionye, Gerry Nnubia, John Oyedemi, Joe Essien, Abraham Uyoubisere, Gab Awusa, and Gerald Chukwuma. Each artist created one work in his medium and from any perspective of Moremi that suited him or her.
The founder and director of Alexis Galleries, Mrs. Patty Chidiac-Mastrogiannis at the press conference held in preparation and commencement of the Moremi exhibition said none of the works will be made public until the Ooni first sees them. “It will be his right to see the works first. That is why none of the works is here for this press preview. He deserves that respect and honor. And this show will be the biggest visual art show in the history of contemporary art in Nigeria where twenty-eight of the masters would be on call with their individual artistic works on one person. It is a big one.”
The Global Ambassador, Queen Moremi Ajasoro Initiative, Princess Ronke Ademiluyi, said “Moremi’s story was worth telling in different mediums. The show is to keep the legacies of Moremi embedded in our memories. It is a story of leadership and how she took a bold step to save her people.”
Ato Arinze, a porter, and ceramist said “I’m happy to be a part of this exhibition. Moremi was a mother to her people, protecting and leading them. I have heard different versions of what Moremi did. But today I have got the true picture.”
Abraham Uyovbisere, a painter, who was also glad to be involved in this remarkable exhibition, said it is good really to be part of this. “She left legacies no one can ever surpass in our clime. We need to learn from her example in good conduct and purposeful leadership. This is why I chose to do justice to what she represents. It did not take me much time to conceptualize and contemplate what angle to take.”
Gerry Nnubia described Queen Moremi as a beautiful woman who had to use her beauty to save humanity. “She was a custodian of her culture. And she did what she had to do for her people as queen mother.”
In giving back to the society, Alexis Galleries will donate part of the show’s proceeds to a non-governmental organization in Ile-Ife to be chosen by the Ooni, including the Fine Art Department, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife. The Moremi arts exhibition is being sponsored by Pepsi, Amstel Malt, The Homestores, and Art Café amongst others.