Six artists graduate from Alexis Galleries

Simeon Mpamugoh

With the support of The Homestores Ltd & Alexis Galleries, an art and craft centre, curator, Patty Chidiac Mastrogiannis recently exposed six local and international artists to new materials, lines and strokes in a four-week residency. The programme took place at the gallery, Akin Olugbade Street, off Idowu Martins Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

The artistes drawn from Ghana, Ibadan, Abuja and Lagos, were taken through new materials, lines and stroke, as well as colours in order to put them in a greater pedestal in terms of diversity in content, perspective and style.

The one-month programme, which was the first in the eight years life of the gallery, began on May 14 and ended June 14, 2018. It was aimed at promoting artists from across Africa and African Arts in general. The curator Patty Chidiac Mastrogiannis added that it was her desire to push the change in Artists residency in Nigeria so as to drive art higher.

She said, “The gallery has in eight years of existence supported artists in the promotion of their works and organization of exhibitions. We want to see how we can put the artists on a greater pedestal with our residency programmes, workshop and lectures. We hope to have minimum of two-art residency a year.”

On why all the artists are men, she replied, “It is my first edition. All the five artists and a master are lodged within the gallery. The residency include lodging them and I don’t think it is wise putting women in their midst, more so it is only one month.

“The artists have cross experiences, helped and inspired each other. It is of considerable importance to the up-and-coming, master and younger artists, and that is what we do at the gallery: lift the younger artists horning their creativity in the art world. It has also shown direction to one, definition in others and originality to others like Samuel Tete Ketcharn who was into a kind of painting and carving. Dr. John Oyedemi introduced new lines into his paintings,” she said.

Speaking on how the artists made the list, she said, “We chose three young artists, two up-and-coming artists and a master. We tried to do 2-2-2, but since this is the first one, and we want to get it done, we had to settle for 2-3-1. It is going to be in stages. In the next edi- tion, we hope to invite four artists from abroad and two local ones. They would be two established, two upcoming and two young artists. The issue of gender balance would have to wait to avoid catfight sometimes found among women. This is not trying to be sexist.”

On the ties the programme achieve among the artists, Dr. John Oyedemi, who has been practicing art for over two decades, said, “Initially, when we started, we didn’t know we could be so connected to a point where we relate as brothers. So, the bond of friendship was created, though we were all from different places. It was pleasant and fun.”

The artists also spoke on what they took away from the residency. An Abuja-based painter and self-taught artist, Olorunyemi Kolapo, who studied Pure and Applied Physics from Kogi State University, said, “This is my third residency programme. It is so amazing to have a master as instructor like Dr. Oyedemi. What differentiated this programme from others I have attended is the number of artists that participated.

“The first week was a bit rough, because we were still battling to connect with one another. After one week, we discovered there was one artistic spirit running in our veins. We settled down to our principal project because at the core of every residency is the development of a project. Initially, there was no project at hand, but in the course of interactions; we were able to raise a project called Change, which reflected in our works in different ways.

Togolese-born Ghanaian painter and sculptor, Samuel Tete-Kancharn, described the programme as a great experience. He commended the curator for the all-expense paid programme and the sound atmosphere that defied distractions, “What we need is to build on the bodies of works. It is a good initiative and the curator deserves more appreciations for her efforts.

“For me, it is not just a residency but a good classroom teaching of art. Most of us would love to hide and paint in a studio, so that people don’t know what we are doing, but through the programme, we’ve learnt from each other.”