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Bob-Nosa: Rejected in Nigeria, accepted in Europe, Art X Lagos

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Bob-Nosa (left) with one of his curators, Sorella Acosta, Director & Curator, OUT OF AFRICA Contemporary Art, Barcelona, Spain, during the 2019 Art X Lagos fair.

By Osa Amadi, Arts Editor

Sorella Acosta, Director & Curator, OUT OF AFRICA Contemporary Art, Barcelona, Spain, in an exclusive interview with Vanguard at the 2019 Art X Lagos, said:

“We have two curators for Bob-Nosa’s works: I and Malgorzata Paszylka-Glaza. Malgorzata Paszylka-Glaza has decided to organize a solo exhibition for Bob-Nosa in the National Museum in Poland, and that is very important for an emerging artist like Bob-Nosa.

How did she come across Nosa? “Last year, we participated in Art X for the first time. But we went to a gallery that was preparing an exhibition for Bob-Nosa, and I saw the paintings on the ground, and directly, I said, this is a very big and powerful artist. I want to speak with him.

“And then we started to talk through the internet and I proposed to organize an exhibition for him in Barcelona. It took place in June and it was his first exhibition in Europe. He was so, so glad that we have done it and we recorded a lot and a lot of success. It was just great. It was an exhibition against domestic violence, and it was so important because domestic violence is a universal topic. It is not only here. It is also in Europe. It was so successful that we sold 8 out of 12 Nosa’s paintings in that exhibition.”

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What does Sorella Acosta like about Bob-Nosa’s work? “I like his power. I like him because he is real. I like his work because he wants to change the world through his art. I like him because he is convinced that with art, we can change something in our world. Nosa wants to help people in the street. He is against violence. He wants us to help people with problems, people who are in hospitals, and that’s very important because he has a vision. I believe he can help in changing the world for the better through his works.”

Did Nosa have to explain the meaning of his works to her or did she notice it by herself? “I saw it directly. For forty years I organized art fairs in Brussels and I have seen a lot artists and artworks. When something gives me a sentiment; when I feel something about an artwork; there is something between me and artworks; whenever I see and feel that that familiar connection with an artwork, I will say ‘we have to present this work.’ And I have been right up to 90 percent. So I know what I am talking about. I so much appreciate Bob-Nosa’s works and I believe he will go very, very far.”

Speaking generally about Contemporary African Art, Acosta said: “I like Africa. West African art is so fresh and different from what we can find in Europe and USA. And I think we have here, a lot of power. And now that we have internet; now that the artists can move; now that we have art fairs, no longer only in New York or Paris but also here; now I think we will see that the African Contemporary Art and artists will go very far.”

Sorella Acosta said she has already sold three of Bob-Nosa’s works even before the Art X Lagos exhibition has barely started.

How does he feel being one of the exhibiting artists in the 2019 Art X Lagos? “I am really excited. I am not just exited because I am here, it’s because I have a working relationship with OUT OF AFRICA Contemporary Art. And when the Director and curator, Sorella Acosta, told me they would like to feature me in this 2019 Art X Lagos, I said that was good and brilliant because I really wanted to be part of this big art event. It is the biggest art event in West Africa.

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“This is my first participation in Art X Lagos since its inception. You know that here in Nigeria, my work is not so much appreciated. The galleries here feel that my works are not commercial enough. But surprisingly Sorella Acosta has already sold 3 of my works in this very exhibition which started only a few hours ago. She also featured my works in an art exhibition recently in Beirut, Lebanon.

“Around that same period I also met another curator, Malgorzata Paszylka-Glaza from Poland and she equally proposed to me that she wants to show my works in the Poland Museum, and it’s a very big museum. I haven’t done a show before in a museum. She said my works are good for museum; that they are beyond gallery arts. I said, well, I am in for it. So Sorella Acosta and Malgorzata Paszylka-Glaza teamed up to push my works; they have a very good working relationship. So, this is very, very big for me.”

Bob-Nosa (left) with another of his curator, Malgorzata Paszylka-Glaza, Curator of the Modern Art Department, The National Museum in Gdansk, Poland, during the 2019 Art X Lagos fair.

Art X is an indigenous concept and platform, why did it have to take foreigners to get you to participate in it? “You know, my kind of work is not appreciated here by galleries because what they are doing here is purely decorative art. It’s not art that speaks for the people, for the masses. When they see my work they are scared because they have this notion that my works are not sellable. They believe it’s vulgar, that it’s rubbish, etc. they believe my works are against all principles of art.

“While creating my work, I break all principles. I just create from my inside. So they don’t want that; they want something they can relate with, like: “Oh, this is a market scene. I know the place. It is Oshodi.” That’s the kind of thing they want. But I said, ‘No’, we must change the standard, the narrative. Art is about freedom. So that is my voice. That is why I am sidelined here in Nigeria.

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Now, for Bob-Nosa, the very stone the builders rejected has now become the head cornerstone.

Vanguard

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