Àsìkò: Evoking Personal Narratives and Collective History
26 October–21 December 2013
The Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos is pleased to present the third solo exhibition by Kelani Abass,Àsìkò: Evoking Personal Narratives and Collective History. In this body of new works he explores the possibilities inherent in painting, photography and printing, strategies already suggested in his 2009 solo exhibition Man and Machine. In Àsìkò, he highlights personal stories against the background of social and political events built around three interrelated bodies of work which also engage time and memory. The first and most symbolic is the “Family Portrait” series. Instead of portraits of people, an object—the first typewriter purchased by his mother to start the family printing business—is used to signify the beginning of the story of the family’s trajectory. In the three paintings that constitute this series, the painted image of the printing press is positioned full frontal and centrally reinforcing the importance of the object and the way in which time is inextricably implicated through technological developments and its symbolic entanglement with the family history.
￼ Olori Nlado (Calendar Series), Corrugated cardboard, laminated print, and acrylics on Canvas, 92x122x6cm
In the second body of paintings, the “Calendar” series, Kelani appropriates the template of the ‘Bomode Oku,’ an engaging way of telling stories and remembering events that have happened in a community. As a child, Kelani recalls clients coming to the family printing press with images of a loved one (usually deceased) and asking for a ‘Bomode Oku’ calendar that highlights the story of their town and community. Kelani pays homage to this form of archiving and remembering and uses it for his own purposes in the “Calendar” series by superimposing within the painting images of his late father, maternal grandfather, and grandmother to create his own family ‘Bomode Oku.’ In addition he acknowledges the history of the family’s origin in Abeokuta by creating calendars of two important Yoruba Kings, Oba Gbadebo I and Oba Ademola II, whose reign in the late 19th and early 20th century had an impact on the southwest region of Nigeria.
The last series, “Family Album,” are large paintings embedded with photographs that place the nuclear family within the group at social gatherings and important events. By making a private narrative part of the social collective, he comments on the universal reality of his experience. In these paintings the images of the past and present, analogue and digital, painting and photograph coalesce seamlessly, conflating space, time, and medium. Àsìkò, meaning time in Yoruba, is a nostalgic as well as a cathartic tribute to a father whose, despite the passage of time, memory remains embedded in the fabric of the present. This is most visible with the inclusion of a book of “knowledge,” a material witness to the thoughts, ideas, encounters of the artist’s late father, Alhaji Sumola Ajani Kelani.
The arrival of Kelani Abass at this personal and professional juncture can be better understood through the local context and environment in which the works are created. Àsìkò is a critical and artistic milestone that has accumulated over the past four years through a search for a personal visual language borne out of lived experiences. He looked for and took advantage of opportunities that involved exploring, experimenting, collaboration, research and critical thinking. As with many painters, Kelani uses photography as a preparatory tool for their work but very few artists in Nigeria have placed it on the same level as painting reinforced hierarchical barriers between the “art” of painting and mechanical procedure of photography. Could the breaking down of these barriers, which is evidenced in this body of work, signal a new departure in the relationship between painting and photography in Nigeria? On this occasion painting is presented with photography, printing and even the performative not as a support but as part of the expanded field of contemporary art practice. Kelani is dissolving the boundaries and constraints of his educational background and artistic environment, allowing himself to weave a complex narrative of fact, fiction, mediums and materials that comment on the family, technology, time history and politics.
Kelani Abass (1979) studied at the Yaba College of Art and Technology, graduating in painting with distinction. Since then he has had two solo exhibitions, Paradigm Shift (2009) and Man and Machine(2011). He has taken part in several group exhibitions in Nigeria and South Africa. Kelani has won several awards and prizes including 1st prize in painting of the Caterina de Medici/3rd Black Heritage Prize (2010), the Yusuf Grillo Award for best painting student at Yabatech (2007). He has taken part in several residencies and workshops and is a member of the Society of Nigerian Artists.
Kelani Abass, Àsìkò: Evoking Personal Narratives and Collective History is curated by Bisi Silva and co-curated by Jude Anogwih. The exhibition is accompanied by a full-colour illustrated catalogue with text by Bisi Silva, Jerry Buhari, Kunle Filani and an interview with Jude Anogwih.
Please join us on Saturday 2 November for Artist Talk featuring exhibiting artist Kelani Abass.
Kelani Abass will be in conversation with curators Bisi Silva and Jude Anogwih talking about his artistic journey over the past 5 years and especially in the past 2 years leading up to this current solo exhibition. He will talk about his interest in the intermingling of printing, painting and photograph and the role they play in his artistic production. We will also talk about the contextual underpinning of the exhibition exploring themes such as time, technology, memory, as well as autobiography and history and the way in which they manifest in their work.
Time: 2pm – 3pm prompt
No One Belongs Here More Than You
June 15- September 14 2013Image: Wura-Natasha Ogunji. Title Adapted from origin book by Miranda July.
Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos is pleased to present in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art, New York, No One Belongs Here More Than You, the culmination of an extended stay by three artists of Nigerian descent resident in the United States. As recipients of the prestigious Fulbright Scholar and Guggenheim Fellowship Awards, the temporary relocation has afforded artists Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze, Wura-Natasha Ogunji and Nnenna Okore the opportunity to engage with their country of origin in a critical moment of their artistic practice as well as their professional development. Working in diverse media – drawing, sculptural installation, performance art, video and photography, they present work that engages with their ideas and notions of belonging, of space and time, of notions of the individual and the collective, highlighting their own responses to this context in a unique and individual manner.
By marking, drawing, snapping, twisting, shredding, tying, dyeing, sewing, by the layering of actions, violent, poetic, by the conversations, loud, public, intimate and above all by the movements and encounters in their current space, the totality of these divergent and converging processes and experiences encapsulate the diverse ways in which they situate themselves and their practice beyond any fixed notion of place or identity allowing them the freedom of artistic, contextual as well as aesthetic possibilities. As artists of Nigerian descent who have spent most of their lives living, migrating and journeying across continents, their individual and collective movements, histories, memories and perspectives integrate to highlight points of intersection and overlapping. No One Belongs Here More Than You embodies both a metaphysical crossing of time and space, as well as the relationship of each artist to materiality. This experience marks the onset of a journey of reintroduction, rediscovery and reconnection to their ancestral place of origin. Inevitably, as the artists navigate the unique nuances of their longitude and latitude, their current artistic explorations are intricately woven into the here and now.
Ruby Onyinyechi Amanze creates large-scale drawings influenced by textile processes, print-making, collage, and architecture which explore themes of authenticity, hybridity and mobility. She is the recipient of several awards and residencies including the Fulbright Scholar Award at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka,2012/13, Artist-in-Residence at Gallery Aferro, Newark, NJ 2012 and the 2011 Artist-in-Residence at Cooper Union School of Art; New York, NY. She has participated in several solo and group exhibitions across the United States and Nigeria. Amanze received her BFA (Summa cum Laude) in photography and fiber/material studies from the Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia and an inter-disciplinary MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
A performance and visual artist who works in a variety of mediums, Wura-Natasha Ogunji is best known for her videos, in which she uses her body to explore movement and mark-making across water, land and air. Her recent performance series explores the presence of women in public space in Lagos, Nigeria. Ogunji has received a number of awards, including a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2012) and grants from the Idea Fund, Houston (2010), and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation (2005). She has performed at Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos, The Menil Collection (Houston) and the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts (St. Louis). Ogunji received a BA in Anthropology from Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, in 1992 and a MFA in Photography from San Jose State University, CA, in 1998. She lives in Austin and Lagos.
Nnenna Okore is an Associate Professor of Art at North Park University, Chicago. Her works, comprising mainly sculptures and installations have been exhibited internationally in museums and galleries across Chicago, New York City, London, Paris, Cancun, Sao Paulo and Copenhagen. She is a recipient of the 2012 Fulbright Scholar Award; and has also been recognized by the Chicago Tribune, BBC and New York Times, among dozens of media outlets, for the innovative use of materials, textures and colors in her works. Okore received a BA in Painting (First Class Honours) from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and an MA and MFA in Sculpture from the University of Iowa in 2004 and 2005.
No one belongs here more than you is generously supported in part by funds from the U.S. Consulate General, Lagos, Lambent Foundation and Arts Collaboratory. For more information on the program please follow CCA,Lagos on facebook and twitter or send an email to email@example.com.
Adolphus Opara, Emissaries of an Iconic Religion
11 March – 30 May 2013
Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos is pleased to present Emissaries of an Iconic Religion, the first major solo exhibition in Nigeria of Adolphus Opara. This photographic series of portraits of diviners from the regions of South-Western Nigeria invoke the symbols and narratives of indigenous religious belief, as well as its relevance and function within the society. The composition of the images by Opara align closely with the formal photographic portraits of prominent Yoruba people in Nigeria as well as with the conventions of European portrait painting. These large-format, painterly images, imbued with luxuriant colours attempts to re-assert the importance and vitality of local belief systems, in spite of external pressures.
Adolphus Opara’s work is principally inspired by encounters with people and his commitment to expressing the exigencies and the challenges that characterise their daily realities. He uses visual story telling to show his empathy towards the issues with which he is confronted.
Born 1981, Opara has exhibited widely locally and internationally. Recent exhibitions include – Contested Terrains, 2011, Tate Modern, London; African Lace, 2010, Museum fur Vulkerkunde, Vienna, Austria; African Photography Encounters, 2011, Bamako, Mali; The Tie That Binds Us, 2012, Tiwani Contemporary, London among others. He has undertaken assignments for notable organisations and his works have been published in magazines, books and websites including the BBC, World Press Photo ENTER, New African Magazine and Nigerians Behind the Lens, the first Fine Art Photobook showcasing contemporary photography from Nigeria.
Emissaries of an Iconic Religion is curated by Jude Anogwih and organised by CCA, Lagos. The exhibition is financially supported by the British Council, London.
CITIES IN TRANSITION – Marker 2013, ART DUBAI
20 – 23 March 2013
Art Dubai’s Marker programme explores the nature of evolving cities in West Africa through the work of upcoming and established artists, exhibiting in the Middle East for the first time.
Marker is a curated section of concept stands, located within the gallery halls at Madinat Jumeirah, which focuses each year on a particular theme or geography. For 2013, Art Dubai has invited Lagos-based curator Bisi Silva to select and work with galleries and art spaces located in West Africa. Silva’s programme is curated around the theme of ‘cities in transition’, with a particular focus on the work of dynamic, independent organisations and artists dealing with specific identities and localities. Her concept focuses on the rapidly evolving nature of cities in West Africa and the way in which this change impacts society.
She has selected five spaces to work collaboratively with their artists to produce exhibitions for Art Dubai: Centre for Contemporary Art (Lagos, Nigeria); Espace doual’art (Douala, Cameroon); Maison Carpe Diem (Segou, Mali); Nubuke Foundation (Accra, Ghana); and Raw Material Company (Dakar, Senegal). Working together with the curator and the fair, each artspace will present recent works by artists such as Soly Cisse (Senegal) Ablade Glover (Ghana), Abdoulaye Konate (Mali) Boris Nzebo (Cameroun) and Taiye Idahor (Nigeria).
The Centre For Contemporary Art Lagos is proud to be represented by the works of 6 artists, Ndidi Dike, Ade Adekola, Charles Okereke, Taiye Idahor, Emeka Ogboh and Karo Akpokiere.