BY ADA DIKE
On Thursday, November 26, 2015, the winners of 8th National Art Competition at a historic event held at the Freedom Park, Lagos after first of its kind tedious competition that lasted for three months.
Themed “Future Histories”, this year’s competition, organised by African Artists' Foundation (AAF) and sponsored by Nigerian Breweries Plc, opened on Tuesday, June 9, 2015while deadline for submission of work was July 3, 2015.
Following the deliberation by an artistic selection committee led by Prof El Anatsui, the following finalists were chosen: they are: Adetunwase Adenle, Funmi Akindejoye, Michael Enejison, Chinenye Emelogu, Maryam Kazzem, May Okafor and Stacey Okparavero.
Others are: Komi Olafimihan, Ngozi Omeje, Babatunde Oyeyemi, Folami Razaq and Sabastine Ugwuoke.
Sabastine Ugwuoke, whose work is titled: “No Rest No Comfort, Confusion Everywhere”, defeated other finalists emerged as the winner and walked away with the sum of N2 million cash. Two other contestants -May Okafor and Ngozi Omeje won Outstanding Production and Outstanding Concept respectively and went home the sum of N1 million cash each.
The National Art Competition was sponsored by the Nigerian Breweries, coordinated by the African Artists’ Foundation (AAF) and supported by Lagos State Inland Revenue Service (LIRS) and Samsung Electronics West Africa.
Before the announcement of the winners, the Head Judge of the competition, painter and lecturer, Kolade Oshinowo, noted that judging this year’s competition was a challenging exercise, but “We were able to overcome it”. He suggested that the display of the artwork should not be a one-day thing, adding that it should be made available to the public.Other participants in this year’s judging process alongside Oshinowo are: Theo Lawson, Olu Amoda, Omoligho Udenta, Amaka Osakwe, Akeem Lasisi, Fauzi Fahm and Bob Aiwerioba.
The winner, Ugwuoke, was happy, surprised and excited for the end of the year gift of N2 million he got from participating in the competition. The sculptor who hails from Enugu State is presently rounding off his Master’s in Fine Art (MFA) from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He had Higher National Diploma (HND) from IMT, Enugu. After his youth service exercise, he went to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, through Direct Entry for his Bachelor of Arts (BA).
According to him, his work, “No Rest No Comfort, Confusion Everywhere”, is about the global restiveness/the insecurity in the world.
He explains the title of the work: “the restiveness North-East in Nigeria comes to mind when issues bordering on insecurity are discussed. The scenario is such that fear, uncertainties homelessness, hunger and epidemic have the order of the day in once peaceful Northern part of Nigeria. This art piece hopes to use foam and other soft and stuffed materials with dangerous pins on them to represent a visual image of inaccessibility and lack in the midst of plenty. The work predicts that if the menace of Boko Haram and other related security issues are not critically addressed, the whole country will one day be thrown into anarchy when the challenge is spread all over the country. The work process will follow a routine process of stuffing different colours and sizes of foam as bed, which ordinarily should be a place of rest with sharp objects ranging from nails, toothpicks and other dangerous materials to depict ‘no rest’, ‘no comfort’, ‘confusion everywhere’. The work warns and gives a prediction that in the near future the effect of insecurity would have spread all over the country in the form of unnecessary apprehension and non-conducive environment for business and social activities to take place.”
He used toothpicks, nails, foam to form the pillow and mattress, printing plate to form the bedcover, bamboo and so on. “During the work process, first of all, I painted the panel with mat black, after that, I did my sketches with marker. I used drilling machine to bring out the sketches, then I used toothpicks. I used angle grinder to cut the bamboos.”
|No Rest No Comfort, Confusion Everywhere|
He said he spent two months and two weeks to make the work. “What I had in mind was the bed but, during our retreat, the facilitators sent to us widened our ideas, then I came up with the walls. I left a portion of the wall intentionally because I believe there is hope if Nigeria curtails the problem, but if nothing is being done, it traps people inside. The feet in the work are people trying to escape.”
Ugwuoke gave the estimation of the quantity of toothpicks he used by saying he used up to seven cartons of toothpicks – each carton contains 40 dozens.
Winner of Outstanding Production, May Okafor, titled her work ‘Dear Content’. In her words which was published in National Art Competition’s website, “For me, I understand that the crisis, wars, bombings and other turmoil faced across the globe today were, before their manifestations, mere ideas in the imagination. Boko haram, as it affects the Nigerian society today, could not just have been birthed originally in the brain but spear-headed by a fellow who passes his ideas and acclaimed grievances to many who become extensions of his hands and mind carrying out dreadful tasks at various degrees. Tracing the origins of such brains on a singular note, conceptions come to mind. Such individuals, like every other, were conceived in the womb of a woman, nourished, nurtured and catered for duly. Arguably, it is true; life may have started at the spermatozoa level, but well above six million others could have come instead of that one. A fellow is singled out of the millions at the click of zygote formation.
“Consequently, the womb becomes the focal point of this project. If great minds like Albert Einsten was harbored in the womb, world's inventors and proponents of great laws and theories were nourished in the womb, presidents of nations passed through the womb, and leaders of various degrees of world insurgencies were all someday, guarded in the womb, then the womb is more or less the embodiment of world's future histories. The questions are: How does the womb in reality lend itself as a dependable documenter? Again, to what degree can one peer into the contents of the womb as regards fertilization, implantation and harbor age with an aim to comprehend future histories? These are the concerns of this project as it shall employ the womb as a visual metaphor with creatively charged foresights into the imaginary and the inevitable.”
In the same vein, Ngozi Omeje’s work, ‘Against All Odds’ won Outstanding Concept. According to her statement on National Art Competition website, “In the past, histories have shown how human beings in attempt to determine and know the time, created the Hourglass. The hands will continue to manipulate, search, research and experiment to reshape our belief, culture and future. This therefore has shown why Nigerian citizens have been able to survive amidst the political imbalance, insurgence, financial and infrastructural quagmire as they toil day and night to meet their daily needs. The majority of the populace have been subjected to applying the upheaval road in a compulsory swing low-swing high motion as they move to and fro or as they journey from one destination to another.
|Against All Odds|
“Against All Odds is be a ceramic installation of dots in space to narrate the story of busy mind, busy brain and busy hands. The installation will be of two segments which are Hourglass configured with suspended clay dots and surgical gloves shaped with resin to form human hands. The hands were assembled under the Hourglass while some flow outwardly from the Hourglass. The assemblage of hands under the Hourglass is conceptualized metaphorically to describe how the mind, brain and hands will get busier within 24 hours, 7 days a week in the future against all odds. The installation was achieved using nylon thread, bisque clay dots, metal stopper, Plexiglas and metal frame on which the weight of the installations rest on.”
Funmi Akindejoye produced a beautiful masterpiece titled ‘Green Prophecy’ which “projects into the architecture and environment of the mid 21st century by creating a model for green buildings project. The entire installation in the sketch is a proposed green African settlement encased in glass. Features such as wind mill, solar panels, green roofs, green trees and vegetation amongst others would be portrayed to represent the green technology. The glass case in the installation symbolizes a clean and protected environment free from harmful green house gasses. The entire project is aimed at promoting healthy living, enhancing environmental aesthetics and boosting global economy by discouraging the use of harmful green house gas emitting fossil fuel through waste recycling and use of alternative energy sources such as wind, biogas and solar energy.”
Komi Olafimihan’s aesthetic work is called ‘AfroMobile’ a sculptural art installation inspired by the 13th century Benin bronzes from the Edo peoples of Nigeria. It signifies the hope and expectations for Nigeria while reflecting on our nation's religious and cultural past.
‘The Generators’ byFolami Razaq, Newswatch Times gathered is “an attempt to create an artistic monument out of broken down power generating sets, in anticipation of a cleaner eco system, as well as a visual documentation of a stage in Nigeria’s history”.
Creator of ‘Back-to-Back’, Stacey Okparavero, said: “Drawing from my experience, social media has permeated the core of our society with the assortment of smart phones and gadgets on the rise, and consumer culture (consumerism) is here to stay. At social gatherings, some people replace actual names with ‘handles’ and socialize on a superficial platform. In response to these issues, the painting/performance piece was created drawing from current trends.”