A Chief Lecturer in the Fine Art Department, School of Art, Design and Printing, Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, Dr. Adeola M. Balogun and curator, art consultant, sociologist and anthropologist, Mr. Moses Ohiomokhare gave their assessment of the performance of the leadership of Sculptors Association of Nigeria (ScAN) for holding the second exhibition of the association at the National Museum, Lagos after successfully having the first one, and how impactful African sculptor is to the world.
According to Balogun, “ It is gladdening to roll out the drums in the celebration of the second outing of the Sculptors Association of Nigeria (ScAN). This is a pointer to the fact that the maiden edition was neither a fluke nor a flash in the pan. The profound efforts of the executive towards sustaining, not only the tempo but raising the bar with respect to the quality of work is remarkable. It is an attestation to the notion that ScAN is not about the ‘movement’ alone, but particular about making impactful progression and the quest to promote sculpture as a veritable genre of art to relate with, nationally and globally. The executive is aware of the enormity of the task entrusted to them and truly alive to it, thus it remains resolute and undaunted in the face of obvious challenges.”
Balogun then took his audience through the rubrics of material aesthetics and how the art of sculptor is helping to shape the narratives for the better:
“The artist as a social critic and reformer employs a plethora of materials in expressing his or her ideas, innate and inner deliberations. In the past, the options of materials for creative expression and crystallization of ideas were extremely few and limited. Though, despite these constrictions in the realm of available media of aesthetic expression, the forerunners in the creative field never allowed their vision to be cowed, thus; they were able to produce great works. However, the advent of industrialization in the mid-eighteenth century changed the dynamics. Modernity bestowed unprecedented material options at the disposal of modern sculptors. With this empowerment, artists became re-invigorated and creatively inspired. Therefore, sculptors could aesthetically twirl and transform the multiplicity of materials in situ or otherwise towards the execution of their studio practice.
“In contemporary art practice, anything and everything, regardless of their material components are adopted and adapted as a medium of artistic expression. Modern art is about projecting one’s uniqueness through the employed materials, technique and style. Participating artists in this exhibition exuberantly projected their peculiar individuality and high aesthetic standard captured with myriads of materials. Traditional sculpture materials such as stone, wood, terracotta, bronze, and non-traditional ones which include off-cuts of textile materials, household utensils, discarded objects, leather and so on, are employed and appropriated as a medium of aesthetic expression in the body of works presented in this show.
“However, despite the apparent individualism, one could see a common trend running through most of the creative exertions, especially in the exploration of materials by the younger generation. Each artist contextualizes and articulates their work in relation to the material(s) of their choice. This common streak pervades the works of both the established as well as the upcoming artists that are exhibiting in the show. While the masters are clear and vociferous in their mastery of materials and rendering, the younger ones are also resolute and daring in their respective exploration of materials.
“Since the fruit will not fall far from the tree; it is on this premise that appropriation found its footing with modern artists. In the modern era, multifarious items that have outlived their usefulness, instead of being discarded are now finding their way into the artists’ studios. They are now being given a second life through recycling, appropriation or assemblage. The result of this is the evolution of awe-inspiring poetic and evocative artworks being presented in this second evolutionary exhibition, Elixir 2.
“The oeuvre traverse different formal and contextual discourses, including the sociocultural and socioeconomic as well as the political space in connection with our current realities as a people. These notions are perceptible in the works, literally or metaphorically. The studio trajectory of contemporary art practice will continue to evolve, akin to the position of the spectators of the dance moves of the big masquerade: they cannot afford to be sedentary. In this wise, contemporary artists will continue to swirl and twirl in material possibilities.
“Without mincing words, hard-works, commitment and selflessness have been invested in gathering the calibres of artists featured in Elixir 2.”
On his part, the curator of the show, Mr. Ohiomokhare, weighted in on the importance of sculptor and how the latest exhibition is impacting the world at large. According to him, “Sculptural art is an aspect of visual art form Africa has offered the world. It is said that sculpting is a more powerful art than painting and literature. It can be touched and felt. Nigeria is regarded as the “Greece of Africa” and has contributed a great deal to this aspect of visual art. Mankind has benefitted greatly from the richly varied sculpture from Nigeria. There are remarkable outdoor sculptures that are on permanent exhibition in different parts of the country.
“Last year, a bold step was taken by great sculptors to form an association in Nigeria, to enable them showcase their talent and remarkable skills to the public. To also let their works speak to the joy, challenges, frustration and social stimuli of society. It also affords the artists the opportunity to showcase the masters of this generation. Every generation is endowed with masters. This gave rise to the first edition titled ‘Elixir: Sculpture as Aesthetic Palliative to a Nation at Crossroads.’ It was well received by art lovers, critics and collectors.
“’Elixir 2 – The New Awakening’ is a follow up of the first exhibition of Sculptors Association of Nigeria, and this spectacular showing is composed of varied works with a lot of depth and sophistication. Art lovers will be able to witness three-dimensional works of sculpture in wood, metal, plastic, fiberglass, bronze, stone and installation art. There are also relief works with new ideas and solutions. Some of the works in this exhibition will make you laugh, some will make you cry and others will excite as well as heal you. This exhibition which ran for one week at the National Museum Lagos and showcased well selected masterpieces for your pleasure and consumption. Indeed, it is an awe-inspiring exhibition.”