The Arts

July 10, 2024

Moses Oghagbon’s Fieldnotes from a Master show @ O’Da Art Gallery

Moses Oghagbon’s Fieldnotes from a Master show @ O’Da Art Gallery

“CONVERSATION 1″ (DOGARAI) ACRYLIC ON CANVAS. 32″ by 24” INCHES. 2024.

By Chukwvuma Ajakah

Arts enthusiasts and collectors in Lagos now have a chance to view the fascinating work of a phenomenal Nigerian artist, Moses Oghagbon at the prestigious O’Da Art Gallery, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The exhibition tagged, “Fieldnotes from a Master: Argungu Series 10 began on June 15, 2024 and runs through Saturday, July 13, 2024 at the O’Da Art Gallery, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Argungu Series is a documentation project which the artist delved into in 2003 when he became a professional painter. Through his art, Oghagbon celebrates the rich cultural heritage of the Argungu Emirate of Kebbi State, Nigeria.

Oghagbon said that he was inspired to present Argungu to the global stage through his art after he had spent two weeks observing, photographing, and documenting historical and environmental landscapes at Kamba, a border town of the Argungu Emirate which lies between Kebbi and Niger Republic.

Moses Oghagbon, a full time studio artist and  tourism photographer explores fascinating subject matters such as cultural festivals,  the environment, travels and adventure, representing present and future generations.

Prior to the commencement of the event, HRM, Alhaji Sama’ila Muhammad Mera CON, the Emir of Argungu from his base in Kebbi had in a unique collaboration with Oghagbon extended  invitation to the public, saying: “It is my pleasure to invite everyone to savour the beauty inherent in our culture and land as colourfully presented from Oghagbon’s artistic perspective.” From a historical perspective, the Emir gives further insight into what the Argungu phenomenon embodies, saying: “The evolution of Argungu International Fishing and Cultural Festival began over five hundred years ago, with the declaration of independence from Songhai Empire, by the founder of Kebbi Kingdom, Muhammad Kotal Kanta in 1515AD.

In 1934, Sultan Hassan Dan Mu’azu of Sokoto, historically visited Argungu, after over hundred years of hostilities between the Sokoto Caliphate and the Kebbi Kingdom, paving the way for the birth of the festival as it is known today. Following that visit, the Argungu International Fishing and Cultural Festival evolved to become the largest riverine festival in Nigeria. In 2016, it was inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.”

Oghagbon holds a  degree in Painting from the School of Art, Design, and Printing Technology, Yaba College of Technology,

Yaba where he had majored in Painting and Fine Arts.

His work which has been exhibited locally and internationally can be found in many private and public collections.

Oghagbon has participated in over  thirteen solo and forty group exhibitions. Besides, his works have been reviewed in notable national newspapers, and magazines.

The passionate visual artist, has won several awards and grants, including the Ford Foundation/Terra Kulture Grant, which he won in 2006.

Arts enthusiasts and other visitors can view the  ongoing series of the Argungu project between 10:00 am and 11:00 am from Tuesday to Saturday when the gallery opens to the public.

Argungu Series and Colours of Uhola essentially portrays the lifestyle and cultural heritage of Argungu and Zuru Emirates of Kebbi State, Nigeria.

While unveiling his reasons for embarking on the Argungu arts project, the iconic artist said: “

The hallmark of mission is vision, perseverance, and focus. My passion for argungu conscientious documentation/representation covers the vast landscape, lifestyle, culture, fashion, history, religion and everyday life. It is not about the festival alone but the entire people of the Argungu Emirate.”

“I have placed upon my shoulder the the crusade to make the vast cultural heritage of the Argungu Emirate of global showpiece with my colours, lens, hues, techniques and images of the very essence of Argungu people.”

Despite the diverse spheres the artist navigates, Oghagbon’s paintings significantly reflect a harmonious blending of thematic perspectives. According to the curator, Asibi Danjuma, “There is a dramatic range to Oghagbon’s work…his oeuvre are large-scale and horizontal paintings, characterised by broken

lines to delineate the forms of fishermen, heading towards the phantom-like Sokoto river with brooding intensity. Clouds of dust imbue the universality of the numinous, we all come from dust and all return to dust.”  Danjuma stresses that “The embodiment of the majesty of nature’s grandeur, serves as an aesthetic reference to the philosophical school of The Sublime. While the crew of fishermen present an optical delight with their unbalanced snapshot like compositions.”

Oghagbon has held several solo exhibitions and his work presented in many institutions. The works exhibited so far  include, Argungu Series 9, National Museum, Lagos (2023), Argungu Series 8, Thought Pyramid Art Centre, Abuja (2019), Colours of Uhola I, Moorehouse Hotel, Lagos (2018), Argungu Series 7, Terra Kulture (2019), Argungu Series 6, Alliance Française, Kano ( 2017), Argungu Series 5, Argungu Polo Tournament, Kebbi (2017), Argungu Series 4, Kanta Museum, Kebbi (2017), Argungu Series 3, Alliance Française, Lagos (2016), Argungu Series 2, Moorhouse Hotel, Lagos (2016), Argungu Series 1, Terra Kulture, Lagos (2013), and Scapes from Nigeria, Nike Art Gallery, Lagos (2011).

His work has also featured in groups exhibitions in other countries. He has participated in Global Peace Through Synergy, Artfully Spaced Gallery, which held in California, USA (2023), 360 Degrees of Healing III, Artfully Spaced Gallery, California, USA (2022), and 360 Degrees of Healing II, California, USA.

Oghagbon’s artistically employs documentary and photography in his exploration of social, anthropological, cultural, and environmental issues. He engages painting, in projecting his messages on environmental conservation, culture, and historic events in which he depicts man’s

relationship with the metaphysical and physical nuances of the natural world through the Argungu and U’hola projects.

In his appraisal of the artist’s consistency at promoting Argungu for over three decades, the curator remarked: “Historically, depictions of Argungu rarely veered further than the singular lens of its renowned fishing festival, paying little regard to its visual ethnography. With his sharpened sense of colour and atmosphere, Oghagbon has countered convention, by bringing to the fore, the customs of this civilization, in relation to its landscape.”

Reminiscent of prominent English painter John Constable (1776-1837), who earned respect by revisiting Dedham Vale, the landscape he knew best throughout his lifetime, Oghagbon developed an affinity for Argungu.”

Giving insightful tips into what viewers would find exciting about the body of work on display at the exhibition, Danjuma revealed that Oghagbon’s most alluring trick is in conjuring within the viewer the moral feelings of nature at sunset as he employs acrylic and oil to achieve a depth of colour that enhances the mood of his paintings as in pictures of donkeys, journeying towards the town of Kamba.