By Osa Mbonu-Amadi

At the heart of environmental art is, put simply, the turning of wastes to wealth.  Experts call it recycling, reusing or repurposing of organic and inorganic wastes. Besides creating wealth out of those discarded materials, the aim is also to reduce the wastes littering our surroundings and therefore curb pollution.

As usual, Alexis Galleries is responding to this global environmental need by presenting a group exhibition of exploratory artworks titled “Recycled Matter”, featuring four talented visual artists – Samuel Nnorom, Yusuf Durodola, Konboye Eugene and Chukwuemeka Osisiego. The exhibition, which began June 11, 2022, runs till June 25, 2022.

“By taking a vivid look at materiality and the environment,” says Curator Mathew Oyedele, “the exhibition examines issues that originate from the local but are connected with vital global conversation.” 

Nnorom is exhibiting 3 works titled “Venus of colour”, “Venus of space” and “Around my heart” which he says is dear to his heart because he produced it immediately after his wedding. It was an expression of the love he found which he needed to translate into art. “The piece is mainly a colour distribution of purple and yellow. I used the yellow to guide the heart.” Nnorom sources his materials from tailors’ wastes. “My fabrics have conceptual meanings. I look at them as a structure in a social context – as in the social structure, the fabric of the society, etc.,” he says.

According to Oyedele, “the history and social significance of Ankara fabric takes centre stage in Nnorom’s works as he dialogues with the concept of space, distribution and distance.” 

Konboye Eugene is also featuring 3 works – “Do I” (1 & 2) and “Immaculate”. His major theme is children. “I look at children’s simplicity, purity and their flexibility. I work primarily with flip-flops, that is sleepers, any form of rubber shoes. Those are things you can find in our environments, in every home, because they are affordable and simple.” Konboye explores the theme of children as the future. Getting it right with children, he says, is the basis of a better environment.    

Osisiego, on his own part, continues his inquiry into the Aristotelian concept of “Maintaining the Golden Mean” where he advocates for courage and equilibrium in place of excesses and recklessness,” says Oyedele. “In these pieces, he intensifies his exploratory journey by incorporating aluminum cans into his wooden materials.”

Yusuf Durodola comes to the show with “Pensive” (3 & 4) and “Self-Appraisal”. “My work is a blend of painting, performance and recycling. But for this exhibition, I am showing my recycling work. We are in the era where recycling is actually what matter most, because it is something that is affecting our existence. There is no way we can survive as humans without a space, and when that space is being tampered with, we can no longer live a normal life.

“There is a synergy between the space and the people living in that space. If the space is having an issue, it is our responsibility to tackle what is affecting the space, and that is the essence of having this exhibition titled “Recycling Matter,” says Yusuf.   

“Alexis Galleries,” according to the founder, Patty Chidiac Mastrogiannis,  “know the importance of growth and relevance. This is why we are presenting “Recycled Matter” as a window into the relevance and significance of artists to respond to issues in their immediate environment, and by extension, issues around the world.

“In this exhibition, we have presented you with the artists’ commitment, labour and dedication to reduce environmental degradation and save the earth. We hope you see the pieces and get inspired.”

The exhibition is sponsored by Pepsi, Tiger, Indomie, Mikano, The Guardian, AMG Logistics, Haier Thermocool, U.P.S, Aina Blankson, Lost in a City, Cobranet, Art Cafe, WazobiaTV, Lipton, Nigeria Info FM, and Rentokil Boecker.

Artists’ Profiles

Samuel Nnorom

Samuel Nnorom hails from Isiukwuato LGA, Abia and was born in the city of Jos North Plateau State, Nigeria on the 24th October 1990. He discovered his talent at the age of 9 while assisting his father in his shoe workshop, where he started making life drawings of customers that visited the shop. He was also influenced by his mother’s tailoring workshop, as a kid who played with colourful fabrics with sewing needles and thread. He went further to develop this talent through apprenticeship, training, workshops, exhibitions, art school and practice.

Samuel holds a B.A ed (sculpture major) from the University of Jos and is currently completing an MFA in sculpture from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Samuel has won the National Art Competition organized by the National Gallery of Art in 2010 and 2012. He also won prizes in 2016, 2017 and 2019 editions of the Life in My City Art Festival. He was the first prize recipient (leatherwork category) of the Icreate Africa 2019. Nnorom has received invitations to important workshops and group exhibitions, including the international art workshop by IICD at the United States Embassy, Abuja (2019), Young Contemporary 2021, published in an international magazine the UK (zine, issue 11, artist responding to issues) 2021, Cassirer Welz Award, Bag factory and Strauss & co South Africa 2021 and recipient of 2022 Royal Oversea League and Art House Residency London, and several others. He belongs to the New Nsukka School of Art and he is currently exploring Okirika clothes and Ankara fabric using bubbles techniques as sculptural media while interrogating human experiences that relate to socio political and economic issues. Samuel was a fellow at Guest Artist Space fellowship and residency by Yinka Shonibare Foundation in 2022.

Chukwuemeka M. Osisiego

Born in Kaduna, Nigeria, Chukwuemeka Michaels Osisiego started out as a painter before delving into wooden exploration which has given him a voice and an identity. He studied Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka with a specialisation in painting and works primarily with acrylic on wood panels.

He spends his time communicating with the locals and tracing the arrival of packing case woods at the Apapa port in Lagos and thereafter moving them to his studio for artistic exploration.

Chukwuemeka is inspired by nature, culture and his environment and has participated in a number of exhibitions and auctions. He lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria.

Konboye Eugene

Konboye Eugene works primarily with decorated flip flops obtained from drainages and dumping grounds. His choice of material and colourful palette is deeply rooted and built upon his training at the Auchi Polytechnic in Edo State where he graduated with a distinction in painting.

As a student of Auchi Polytechnic, Konboye was greatly influenced by the teachings of Kent Onah who encouraged exploration of unconventional materials and recycling of solid wastes to manage environmental degradation. In 2016, he trained at the Universal Studios of Art under the guidance of Abiodun Olaku and Wallace Ejoh. Konboye was a resident artist with Omooba Yemisi Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF) in 2019, and was selected among other mosaic artists around the world for the international mosaic symposium, Patagonia.

Yusuf Durodola

Yusuf Durodola is a Guinness World Record Achiever (Largest Painting by Number) for Ecole de dessin, Lagos, Nigeria. He is the founder and artistic director of Artegun Foundation, a platform vision to nurture the creativity of young artists and offer a difference in curative experience strategically to promote art.

He is a change-provoking recycled artist, deeply thoughtful conversational painter, inspired performance artist, distinguished curator, and impeccable creative director. He is one of the most prominent and influential multimedia visual artists in the Nigerian Art Industry.

He was born in Ibadan, Oyo State in 1979 and attended Federal College of Education (Technical) Akoka where he received a Nigerian Certificate of Education and majored in Painting and Graphics. He proceeded to the University of Lagos where he obtained his degree in Visual Arts and attained his Master’s degree from the University of Ife, Osun State, Nigeria.

His absorbing paintings were included in the 2022 Netflix Limited Series: Blood Sisters. They are also widely collected by the Nike Art Gallery in Lagos, Nigeria, Madlozi Art Gallery, South Africa, and private individual collections around the world. His paintings are everlasting archives dedicated to protecting African traditions and mores; Nigerian heritage and culture with particular emphasis on his indigenous background as a Yoruba offspring.

His stimulating recycled works have been exhibited locally and internationally. He collaborated with the United States Classical Pianist Pauline Yang in a performance in 2022. Photographs from Yusuf Durodola’s performance art have been used as publication covers including Stephanie Newell’s Histories of Dirt; Media and Urban Life in Colonial and Postcolonial Lagos. He performed at a special remembrance show of image collage he spearheaded to pay homage to the late master artist Yusuf Grillo. As a revered performance artist, he has shared the stage with other renowned performance artists like Jelili Atiku. His performances have been featured in both historical, physical and virtual art shows including the Obafemi Awolowo University of Ile-Ife 60th Anniversary, Lagos Book Art and Craft Festival, Iwaya Community Art Biennial, UMNY AMA 2020, India.

His recycled works headlined the first found objects art festival in Nigeria: ARTMIABO INTERNATIONAL ART FESTIVAL 2022. He was featured in the first upcycled recycled group art exhibition in Nigeria, Fact File 2021, by Thought Pyramid Art Centre.

Yusuf has served as co-organizer, facilitator, curator/co-curator, resource person, and creative director to several art events such as SPOTLIGHTS Arts and Artists Review (2022), Nike Art Gallery in partnership with Artegun Foundation; Ajorin Metal Exhibition (2020), Thought Pyramid, Lagos; Chronicle of Confinement: Africa (2020), New York; UMNY AMA 2020, India; Trash to Wealth (2020), Jelosimi, Lagos; Striding Bodies (2020), New York; Lock Unlock (2020), India; Grandeur Of Epeland (2016), Yaba School of Art; 2017 October Rain Exhibition, SNA Lagos.

Yusuf is a prolific and versatile artist whose genre of work blurs the boundaries of painting, recycling and up-cycling, and performance/video/photography art. His recycling practice focuses on the materials that threaten environmental sustainability and channels it to address the issue of infrastructural decline, waste management, environmental pollution, echo systems, and sensitization.

He employs African symbols and draw inspiration from Yoruba cosmology (language, philosophy, adages, oral tradition, and moral expression). These include the culture of his immediate environment, oftentimes projected through different art forms. Based on his belief that art has a strong connection to our sustainability, he uses his body as a mobile object in public spaces to bring the healing power of art to the consciousness of the populace.

His penchant for pattern construction and drawing plays a prominent role in the creative process of his performances, often generated from both secular and sacred objects. His work serves as a requisite to stimulating discourses on our political and social challenges that jeopardize our collective reality. It also serves as the voice of the voiceless within the community.

His works communicate the numerous perspectives, perceptions, behaviours, and mindset of individuals who exist in his immediate environment. His practice seeks to stir, engage, stimulate, refresh, and spur human minds towards a state of consciousness beneficial to humanity and the world as a whole. Thereby provoking favorable change to occur and disrupt the mentality of “business as usual” which is reflected in selfish leadership, disregard for inherited customs, and improper waste management.

He has participated in over 40 group art exhibitions, 3 solo exhibitions, residency programs, workshops, seminars, and performances and won several awards to his credit which include 1st prize at National Award, Federal Ministry of Education Arts Competition, 1st prize at Logo Design Competition – CONADEV, 1st International Convention on Art and Development, Society of Nigerian Artists. Stamp Design Competition- South Africa World Cup 2010 and Nigeria at 50 – NIPOST.

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