The Arts

July 24, 2023

Nomadic Art Gallery represents Afrobeat of art – Obidairo

Nomadic Art Gallery represents Afrobeat of art – Obidairo

By Osa Mbonu-Amadi, Arts Editor

The newly renovated Nomadic Art Gallery, NAG, Victoria Island, Lagos took off last weekend with a group exhibition titled Transtemporal Travel. The exhibition which runs from July 15 to August 12, 2023, is featuring works of paintings, sculptures and an installation by six contemporary African artists; Emmanuel Adeyemi, Fiyin Koko, Janet Adebayo, Joe Abdallah, Oluwaferanmi Okeowo, and Valerie Etitinwo.

Speaking with Vanguard at the opening of the exhibition, the founder and CEO of the gallery, Mrs. Charlotte Obidairo, explained how the idea of the gallery came:

“When we first came to Nigeria nearly 10 years ago with the concept of Scandinavian furniture design, one of the things many of our customers said was they have difficulty in seeing how these very sleek Scandinavian designs fit into their homes that have a lot of African arts and artifacts. So, after I’ve heard that a number of times, I decided to say, okay, let me put the African art on the wall and then the furniture with it, so that they see how it works together.

“And the moment you start visualizing African art with Scandinavian furniture, it was a hit, because people can now say, oh, this is how it is going to work. The Scandinavian exclusive designs, if you will, are very sleek (not too colourful) go very well with very colourful African art. That is one of the reasons we started doing it.

“So, ten years ago we launched exhibition called “Art meet design” …At one point we now said, okay, there is a lot of demand for African artists. What I had was many of the young African artists didn’t have wall space…galleries don’t want to take them unless they are established artists. And we have a lot of wall space. So, we said, okay, why don’t we designate walls for art in our showrooms and have a more designated space upstairs where we can have exhibitions that tie multiple artists together…. The idea behind Nomadic is really to try to bring artists together in one space but help it travel; to make it become known outside of Nigeria.

“So, we have exhibitions in Johannesburg, Cape town, Nairobi and Kenya. We are just about to open in Ivory Coast. We want African artists to travel, and that is the name, Nomadic Art Gallery. Nigerians are everywhere, Nigerian artists are everywhere… So, the idea is we want the art to travel. It’s part of our DNA as Nigerians and I see myself as a Nigerian. I have been married to a Nigerian for about 25 years.”

Disclosing what may be regarded as the vision of NAG, Obidairo said: “We represent the Afrobeat of art. Everybody knows Afrobeat. We see how it is everywhere. Afrobeat is on stage. Davido (and other Afrobeat exponents, for instance) are everywhere for different reasons. Who says African art can’t be the same?  We think that is what African artists need to get more visibility outside.       

Vanguard also spoke with some of the exhibiting artists about their works and styles. For Joe Abdallah, “it’s just being able to share my imaginative positions; not necessarily having a signatory design, but being able to bring out the imagination I have here (in my mind) out for people to see. Rather than create some sort of signature, I create an experience.”

Valerie Etitinwo said there is always a playfulness and lightheartedness to her work. “I like bold colours. I like experimenting with the way I portray the human body. Anatomy is something I play with in my work.”

Although Fiyin Koko came to the exhibition with installations, she said “I am multidisciplinary. What I am more consistent with is the tint of blue; that is blue colours.” She said she is inspired by womanism and her dreams, that is creating what she sees in her dreams.

Janet Adebayo, whose two of her paintings are on scrolls and contains some religious images said “I chose headship as a theme, in relation to people’s beliefs from the original standpoints to what I experienced. And then you can see the flow.” She differentiates the old times from the present time with a scroll.

Mercy Imiegha, curator of the Transtemporal Travel exhibition also spoke with Vanguard. Mercy said she is happy with the way the artists have expressed themselves relating to the theme because, “obviously I didn’t know what to expect, but I am excited. I am able to see and delve into the mind of the artists seeing the works and reading their different statements regarding the works. It is exciting to actually be able to coin something and actually see it expressed in real life.” She said the artists captured the theme of the exhibition in ways she did not expect.

According to Nomadic Art Gallery, the exhibition seeks to explore human behaviour and habits in different periods in time. In addition to exploring the technical aspects of time travel, the artists have also used the concept as a means to explore the metaphorical road maps of life, themes of redemption, lucid dreams, healing and love, the nature of free will, the consequences of our actions, and the fragility of existence.

“The body of works in this exhibition,” the gallery said, “offer a unique perspective on time travel, allowing the artists to explore the concept through a variety of mediums and techniques on surrealistic paintings, installations, and sculptures.”

The show is aimed to challenge our perceptions of time and space and encourage us to consider the possibilities of transtemporal travel.