By Osa Mbonu-Amadi, Arts Editor

Grow up, a group exhibition of 10 artists showing 20 works at the Art Hotel, kicks off Saturday, December 10, and runs till December 17, 2022. The artists are Chidube Emmanuel, Iyasele Ebilehita, Amaefule Austen, Sophia Chioma, Popoola Nurudeen, Diana Offor, Somtochukwu Obi, Amos Osemwengie, Akinbobola Oluwatosin and Adepoju Samuel.

Chidube Emmanuel, a Plant Biology and Biotechnology graduate of University of Benin says, “my style of art has roots in realism but with a touch of impressionism/expressionism. I also enjoy and spend a lot of time on plain air painting as it informs my understanding of color.”

For Iyasele Ebilehita, a self-taught contemporary figurative artist, his works as an African artist is to portray his subjective African experience using themes exploring religion, sexuality and self-realization. “These themes are homogenous within contemporary human society which allows for an elaborate connection between me and the viewer.”

With a mastery of realism and a yearning to create art that captivates the mind, Amaefule Austen “seeks to create artworks that speak on my struggles as an artist and most especially on my place in a changing society.”

“My current work,” says Sophia Chioma, a multidisciplinary artist, “portrays different expressions of body language that could vary in meaning and translation. This is more fascinating to me because the variation in meaning is entirely dependent on cultural background, experience, and feelings communicated as words are spoken.”

Popoola Nurudeen, a Fine Arts graduate of Yaba College of Technology Lagos, creates artworks that communicate the modernity of Africanism. “I intend to stimulate the beholder’s reasoning of the possible reality of combining African culture with assimilated foreign traditions without losing touch of who we are,” he says.

Diana Offor’s source of inspiration is not man, according to her. “When I paint, it’s like I’m told what to do on my canvas by the Holy Spirit. I see lines, I see forms and I see shapes that come together to send a message. My context of imagery varies but it is the most unique technique and the most expressive form of art,” says the abstract expressionist painter and textile artist.   

“With my black ink, acrylic colours, newspapers and in some cases, inspirational printed pictures, I use my art as a medium to express my emotions about my country and to document my experiences so far,” says Somtochukwu Obi.

Amos Osemwengie, a self-taught multidisciplinary artist, uses a very traditional approach that involves the use of multiple layers of paint on canvas. “My paintings serve as means through which I learn and explore the essence of being human while fulfilling my intrinsic desire to create. I see my work as a force for humanity, beauty and love,” he says.

For Akinbobola Oluwatosin, a hyperrealism pastel artist, photographer and graduate of Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, “every piece of art I make are part of daily encounters with life, people and my surroundings. My style, hyperrealism, to me isn’t just all about details but rather, the evolution of man from birth to death,” he says.

Adepoju Samuel’s body of works consist of fabrics, fiberglass, metal frame and wood products that can pronounce, beautify and enhance norms and values of an environment.”

Grow up is curated by Ike Sandra, who says “the exhibition revolves round what it takes to be your true self, how long it takes to get there and a reflection on the journey. It aims to portray the challenges and successes accompanying the human journey of growth through the display of art.

“Grow up” is both a personal and collective journey because this is a platform where young and growing artists who are willing to move, to accept the challenge ahead, hit the storm and grow up – artists who are willing to make decisions and also create. We all are going through the journey of growth, both old and young. It’s either we are just starting the journey, already in the journey or processing the whole journey towards growth.

“People are like trees, their growth being apparent only after a significant period of time, and after weathering storms and the many unfavorable conditions of life. It also takes courage to grow up and become who you really want to be.

“Through its carefully curated pieces, the exhibition intends to portray the central value of waithood – a perceptual period of stagnation faced by youths while growing up in developing countries.

“The idea of waithood ties together what it takes to become one’s true self, how long it takes to get there and a reflection on the journey to that point. Through the works, we intend to highlight how we have all interacted with waithood.” 


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