Abele is an art collective formed with the intention of creating immersive works that invite the experience of art with all the senses: from vision to earing, from olfaction to taste and even touch. Comprised of six individuals – Uthman Wahab (visual artist), Adey Omotade (sound artist), Nyancho Nwanri (video artist), Renee & Seun (culinary artist duo) & Emalohi Iruobe (storyteller) – each iteration of the project will present an unusual creative energy that each artist will respond to in their own way, creating a holistic art experience.
In Proportion presents a unique body of miniature works by each artist, where advanced creative styles & techniques are explored and beautifully executed. The viewer is invited to experience all five artists simultaneously, from Isaac Emokpae’s solid bronze sculptures, to Alimi’s exploratory mixed media technique combining photography, illusion, painting and craft while applying acrylic paint directly onto glass; Uthman Wahaab’s single work installation of 17 miniature pieces; Lakin Ogunbawo’s poetic and alluring lens of the ‘real’ female body; and Taiye Idahor’s other worldly collages that allow us to observe a new dimension of everyday life. In short, this exhibition sheds light on the realties of our social, environmental and economic issues nationally and globally.
Wahaab is known for his masterful rendering of voluptuous and triumphant female bodies that challenge the cultural stereotype of female physique popularized by media and advertisement in West Africa and elsewhere. He has been working on the series Phenomenal Woman and Languishing for the better part of the last decade. During the last twelve months of 2020 and 2021 when any physical contact was deemed dangerous and possibly fatal, Wahaab threw himself into drawings that portrayed the overwhelming and unbound physical presence of the human body. In these drawings, voluptuous bodies, tightly cropped on into the frame, embrace and intertwine; it is not clear where one body begins and another ends. Wahaab comments on how he hopes that these works will invite the viewer “to feel alive after months-long global compulsory isolation.” He speaks of his depiction of the untamed human body, Wahaab references “confrontation”, breaking the boundaries, challenging the norm of what is acceptable.
In the last decades of the twentieth century, it was possible to visit art Biennales or Documentas where, in the throes of the mania for all things conceptual, painting, especially figurative, had all but disappeared. Painting in general was considered an antiquated means of expression and no longer of any relevance. As the art world began to look at areas of the world which had been overlooked by the western canon, such as Chinese and now African painting, painting the figure started re-gaining importance so much so that today figurative painting is the prominent form of artistic expression.
The history of western art revolves around the drama of the human condition. Portraying the figure in a variety of guises has been a continuum throughout the centuries and artists have continually found new ways of looking at the figure and thereby talking about the human drama. All of the nine painters included in the exhibition have found a particular way to paint the figure without falling back on typically ‘realistic’ tropes.
The name Floor One 9 has two meanings. The first is a play on the infamous “Nigerian Scam” which has been coined regionally as “419”. If you have been “419’d, you have been scammed by someone, somewhere in Nigeria. Although it carries a negative connotation, this three digit slang term can also be used playfully during daily interactions. “You are a 419 my friend!”, “This is the real deal, it is not a 419”.
Caline Chagoury – using this every day life term – has decided to Floor One 9 the art space known as Art Twenty One, transforming it into something new and unexpected while continue to celebrate Lagos and contemporary art and design by talents based in Africa.
By taking this term and playing into the general idea that is linked to many negative misconceptions of things in Nigeria or more generally Africa – we are looking to show all the good that this continent has to celebrate. A continent filled with talent, colour, and beauty. This is what Floor One 9 will showcase.
The second meaning is in the number “19” – it has been in the making for a long while now and is coming to life in 2019… and all we need is a floor we can transform. In this case, Art Twenty One’s. And so – through this project – we plan to Floor One 9 more spaces as we go along.
Uthman Wahaab is a fine art graduate of the School of Art, Design and Printing, Yaba College of Technology, Lagos. His work covers a spectrum of concerns that include questions of identity, beauty and sexuality, studies of cultural influences that inform technological change and social shifts in Africa and examinations of the manner in which globalism and post-colonialism complicate the continent’s social landscape. Wahaab considers it his duty as an artist to provide a critical lens on the complex dynamics of these interrelated issues. His practice encompasses painting, film, photography, sculpture and installation, and each series begins life as a new sociological study requiring its own medium.
Past exhibitions of his work include TAFETA Presents, Art Tafeta, London (2019); Verticality, Rosenfeld Porcini Gallery, London (2018); Thinking Through Drawing, Sapar Contemporary Gallery, New York (2018); TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, Washington, D.C. (2018); and Phenomenal Woman, Sapar Contemporary, New York (solo, 2017).
The Akete Art Foundation is delighted to announce selected artists to participate in the main exhibition for the 2nd Edition of the Lagos Biennial. The curatorial team for the biennial consisting of: Antawan Byrd, Tosin Oshinowo, and Oyindamola Fakeye have made a selection of 38 Artists from a total of 350 applications. Selected artists have responded critically to the theme of the Biennial ‘’How to Build a Lagoon with Just a Bottle of Wine’’ through their proposals.
The Lagos Biennial will be open to the public from 26th of October – 30th November. More details on www.lagos-biennial.org
Uthman Wahaab is a Nigerian artist who possesses an overarching interest in social phenomenon with the consistent use of medium or singular aesthetic styles. As a feature in our “Vivencias” interview series Wahaab shares his perspective as a multidisciplinary artist, the process of his work, general background and practice.
(VC) Outside of being a internationally exhibited artist who is Uthman Wahaab and what does self awareness mean to him?
(Uthman) Am always very reluctant answering to the question “Who is Uthman Wahaab” Its like giving a self-appraiser. But, if you insist I will say Uthman is a self reliant, at the same time a good listener to others. An extrovert who is quick to mingle with like minds of any background. Could be very aggressive and arrogant when it comes to his integrity and career as an artist.
Self awareness allows me to understand other people, how they perceive me and my attitude. It is very important for creatives to be self-aware because when we have a better understanding of oneself, we are able to experience ourselves as unique and separate individuals. We are then empowered to make changes and take a queue from our areas of strength as well as identify areas where we would like to make improvements. I will continue to know more about my abilities as I further open my mind to the journey of self discovery.
(VC) A perfect world does not exist, but if one does what core values would you make a staple in the creative community?
(Uthman) I won’t claim to be leftist, but I strive as much as I can to open the minds of emerging creatives of any background, to see the need for change on how they would want to be perceived. In the end resilience and growth by improving or focus on one’s creative abilities is very important in this art community.