The Arts

June 24, 2024

AREWA? art exhibition telling story of Northern Nigeria 

AREWA? art exhibition telling story of Northern Nigeria 

From left: Manager, Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art (YSMA) Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos; Michael Osaghale; Exhibition curator, Aisha Aliyu-Bima; YSMA Director, Dr Jees Castellote; and the Communication Advancement Officer, YSMA, Madonna lloba, at the Gothe institute, Lagos, during a press conference announcing the art exhibition titled AREWA?

By Osa Mbonu-Amadi, Arts Editor 

All is set for an exhibition on northern Nigerian arts titled AREWA? The exhibition, scheduled to open on July 8, 2024, at the Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art, Pan-Atlantic University, Lekki-Epe Expressway, Lagos, is organised by the Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art (YMSA) of Pan-Atlantic University. AREWA? is curated by Aisha Aliyu-Bima.

Speaking at a press conference last week at the Gothe Institut to announce the exhibition, Director of Yemisi Syllon Museum of Art, Dr. Jess Castellote, said AREWA? “is an exhibition trying to tell a story and give visibility to artists, objects and practices in northern Nigeria that are not all that visible.”

Speaking further during a 3-member panel discussion moderated by Madonna Iloba, YSMA’s Communications and Advancement Officer, Dr. Castellote said part of the aim of the exhibition is to help people, to sell people, not just to promote art. “There is an exhibition; there is a program for everyone – the press, journalists, teachers, etc.”  

About 80 works of 40 artists, including Jerry Buhari, Jimoh Akolo, Fati Abubakar, Williams Chechet, Aisha Augie, Blaise Gundu Gbaden, Imran Tilde, Dhlimi Munza, Tonie Okpe, Kaltume Gana, etc., will feature at the exhibition which the organisers say will showcase the artistic and cultural diversity of Northern Nigeria, and at the same time celebrate and highlight the invaluable contributions the region’s artists have made to the wider Nigerian arts scene.

Aisha Aliyu-Bima, in a statement announcing the exhibition, described the show as an “exhibition that explores the stories and practice of contemporary artistic practitioners from the North.” She said the exhibition “invites viewers to look deeply into the works,” believing “they will find many points of commonality and wonderful stories.” 

“While this exhibit focuses on Northern Nigeria,” the curator continued, “it also seeks to create more pipelines between the art practitioners in the North and the mainstream art space in Nigeria, Africa and beyond; and to bring important issues like cultural preservation in an ever-evolving world to the fore.”

Aisha Aliyu-Bima, during the panel discussion, spoke about the gap in the north, saying there is not enough representation of northern artists. She said the highlights of the exhibition include bringing people together, identity and projecting the voices of women artists from the north.     

Michael Oseghale, Manager of the Shyllon Museum, said: “With the support of Africa No Filter, we are glad to show AREWA? to our audiences, especially in our nation’s current socio-cultural climate. 

“The YSMA,” Osaghale said, “seeks to advance knowledge about a diverse range of topics through art, and with AREWA?, we are not only able to contribute to learning, but also to nation-building. These opportunities to positively impact the society we are situated in are what justify our mission as a museum.”

Osaghale, in his contribution to the panel discussion, said the exhibition which is intended to amplify voices of northern artists, help artists to learn and be more productive, is also tailored for curators and gallerists.

Other themes such as dismantling of stereotypes in the north, involvement of teacher who are expected to return to the class to shape young minds, reaching those who are not usually given to attending art exhibitions, etc., featured prominently during the panel discussion.   

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