This exhibition is designed as a way of examining the evolution of form and material in three-dimensional art forms since its inception in the 13th century to the remarkable and innovative processes that have expanded the definition of contemporary sculptural practice in Nigeria.
Compared to the other forms of sculpture, the use of metals or found objects ,repurposed to give form to an idea is a welcomed approach that has given a new dimension to the evolution of sculpture in art history. With the advent of the modernist revolution in the 20th century, a rebel movement against the use of traditional materials in art and the subsequent desire to prove that art can be made out of anything, artists created sculpture, assemblage, combined paintings/sculptures and installations from a continuous widening range of unusual objects and materials.
Antidote (2018) by Olu AmodaRele Arts Foundation
Amoda is best recognised for his metal sculptural works gathered from industrial waste.
He is also the founder of Riverside Art and Design Studios in Lagos, and since 1987 continues to teach Sculpture and Drawing at the School of Art, Design and Printing at Yaba College of Technology in Lagos.
Amoda’s work can be found in many local and international collections including the New Ark Museum in New Jersey, USA, and he has exhibited
over the world: The Museum of Art & Design, USA, the Didi Museum, Nigeria, the Victoria & Albert Museum, UK and the 6th Biennale de L’Art
African Contemporain, Senegal. His work is currently featured in “Lend Me Your Dream", a pan-African exhibition organized by Foundation for the Development of Contemporary African Culture (FDCCA).
Cruel Crown (2016) by Raqib BashorunRele Arts Foundation
Raqib Abolore Bashorun (b. 1955) studied at Yaba College of Technology before going to the University of Missouri, Columbia for his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Art Education and Master’s in Fine Arts (1984). He also holds a MFA in Sculpture with a minor in Drawing (2002).
Bashorun reconstructs pre-existing materials, reinterprets and ultimately repurposes them as recycled art. He is interested in issues of waste, recycling and environmental sustainability.
His career as an artist and teacher is marked by significant exhibitions around the world. He has participated in 13 solo exhibitions and has been featured in over 26 group shows at home and abroad.
Soft Spot (2019) by Collins AbinoroRele Arts Foundation
Abinoro Akporode Collins (b. 1984), attended the School of Art and Design, Auchi Polytechnic in Edo State where obtained his National Diploma (ND) in painting and general art (2009) and graduated with higher diploma (HND) in sculpture (2012) as the overall best graduating student.
Abinoro draws inspiration from his environment, depicting these experiences with his sculptures rendered in stainless steel cutlery, fire glass and bronze. He has exhibited widely within and outside Nigeria. In 2013, he made it to the grand finale of the Life In My City competition, Nigeria. In 2014 he participated in the African Art month residency and exhibition and also at the Historical Festival by Art Hub both in Abu Dhabi, UAE. He was recently acknowledged and featured on BBC News for his impressive art pieces created with spoons.
Hand Of God (2018) by Dotun PopoolaRele Arts Foundation
Dotun Popoola, a painter and sculptor holds a National Diploma in painting and general arts from Auchi Polytechnic, Edo State, and a BA in sculpture and MA in painting from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.
Popoola is currently engaged in an ongoing series of hybrid artworks that fuse sculpture and painting, and involve the welding together of scrap metal of all kinds — car parts, kitchen utensils, etc. — to create imposing pieces in varying degrees of anatomical precision, that allude to a variety of upheavals in African society.
Popoola has participated in over thirty group shows in Nigeria and the United States, and his work has been the subject of three solo exhibitions, the most recent of which, Irin Ajo, was held at the Signature Gallery, Lagos, Nigeria (2018).
Wood sculpture is the most prevalent form of sculpture because of the ease of access to the medium and its malleability and like most indigenous African art practices was typically used for religious or spiritual purposes. As such, apprenticeship was the only way to pass down skills and techniques of wood casting. The earliest form of wood sculpture was traced back to the 20th century. It is hard to find carvings done in the 19th century because if not preserved properly, the material deteriorates either from rot or termite attacks. Some of Nigeria’s oldest and famous modern and contemporary wood sculptors are Ben Osawe, who depicted natural subjects, abstract forms and figurative work, Lamidi Olonade Fakeye, who executed commissioned work for both sacred and secular buildings in Nigeria, Olabisi Onawale Fakeye, whose works were inclined towards self-actualization through art using the Igbomina/Ekiti traditional style, and Erhabor Ogieva Emokpae, noted for his work on the four entrances of the National Theatre in Lagos. New interpretations and renditions are currently being produced by a newer generation of artists such as Ruben Ugbine and Abdulrasaq Awofeso.
Awaitng 2.0 (2016) by Abdulrazaq AwofesoRele Arts Foundation
Abdulrazaq Awofeso born 1978 studied at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos. His methodology is based on the notion of constructivism; adding to the structural form rather than deducting. His compositions, often figural in form, portray notions of bureaucracy and the constraints within the political, social and economic urban sphere. Awofeso's figural sculptures aim to challenge the manner in sculptures should be represented.
Awofeso has participated in residencies and expositions all over the world. In 2003, he attended the Johannesburg Art Gallery residency programme and had his first solo exhibition Fragments of the City at the Goethe Institute Johannesburg.
In October 2017, Awofeso was part of the Ex Africa exhibition of 20 contemporary artists of African descent in Brazil which went on a tour of 4 cities till October 2018 and was curated by Alfons Hug. In April 2019, he participated in A Doll's House at Kapellhouse Azerbaijan and was also part of a show titled Volere Volare from May - June 2019 in Italy.
Untitled 2 by Reuben UgbineRele Arts Foundation
Born in 1956, Reuben Ugbine attended Auchi Polytechnic in 1976, where he received an Ordinary National Diploma, and the Principal’s prize for the overall best student. He later received a HND in sculpture from Yaba College of Technology in 1979 and became an instructor and lecturer at Auchi Polytechnic.
Ugbine’s forte lies in woodcarvings. He manipulates the concave and convex within his figurative or mask forms to achieve intriguing 3-dimensional pieces.
Ugbine has designed and executed several carvings, terracottas, sculptural figures, metal railings and other art works for private commissions. He has also exhibited (solo and group) all over Africa and internationally in Lebanon, Spain, Germany, The Netherlands and South Africa.
Ceramic sculpture, which began as pottery has its earliest shards found in ancient sites as early as 7,000 BC. Initially conceived for utilitarian purposes as pots, and then relied on for documentation and cultural interchange; they overtime came to represent both conceptual and practical usage in traditional settings, before making its way to galleries where people may appreciate it as art. Ladi Kwali was one of Nigeria’s most foremost ceramic artists to receive international recognition, mostly for the aesthetic feature on her works. Ceramic art in Nigeria is a dying practice in traditional settings and quite rare to encounter in African art compared to other mediums. But with artists like Nathalie Djakou Kassi, Ngozi Omeje and Ato Arinze exploring the form,more people now appreciate the malleability of clay and the various possibilities of its final form
Girl Time (2019) by Nathalie Djakou KassiRele Arts Foundation
Nathalie Djakou Kassi
Nathalie Djakou Kassi is a Cameroonian visual artist and instructor currently living and working in Nigeria. She is known for her creativity and dexterity in the application of the various mediums she uses in creating her works such as cement, copper, plaster, wood, iron and clay.
For Djakou Kassi, the real essence of her works is to re-awaken the artistic consciousness on the African continent. She has exhibited widely across Nigeria and also on the continent. From 2006 - 2013 she was appointed and worked as the manager of the ceramic workshop at the Art Centre, Mbalmyo.
In 2012 she won first prize for creativity at the International Exhibition of Handicrafts of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso.
Placenta (2015) by Ngozi OmejeRele Arts Foundation
Born in 1979, Ngozi Omeje graduated with a Bachelor’s degree along with an award for ‘Most Creative Potter’ in 2005 and a master’s degree in 2009 from the University of Nigeria Nsukka. She remained as a lecturer in her alma mater to teach ceramics, which she has been doing since May 2009.
Omeje’s work is constructed using clay balls, clay rings, strings, destroyed sandals, nylon threads, plastic and wood particles taken from her immediate environment.
Omeje has taken part in numerous international and local exhibitions including a solo show Connecting Deep at the 10th anniversary of Center for Contemporary Arts, Lagos (2018), the Dakar Biennale in Senegal, the First Central China Ceramics Biennale in China, and at the inaugural ArtX Lagos Art Fair in 2016
Tree Form (2018) by Ato ArinzeRele Arts Foundation
Born in 1966, Ato Arinze began his professional training in Federal Polytechnic Oko in 1986 where he obtained the Ordinary National Diploma under the tutelage of Chike Ebebe, the ceramist of the Aka Circle of Exhibiting Artists. He went on to complete his higher education at Yaba College of Technology Lagos, Nigeria, majoring in sculpture.
Arinze has been an independent studio artist since 1991, creating works composed of vital elements of traditional and contemporary influences. He has participated in many group exhibitions within and outside the country. In 2000, he was commissioned alongside Chika Eke to create the bust of the first president of Nigeria - Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe. He was a recipient of the Solidra Award for Sculpture and Pottery in 2002 and was awarded the Society of Nigerian Artists (Lagos State Chapter) Distinguished Artist Award in 2008.
Taxi Driver (2019) by Alimi AdewaleRele Arts Foundation
Bronze casting, originally created for religious, cultural and socio-economic functions has been a sophisticated means of expression in African history.Dating back to the 12th century among the Yoruba people, refined bronze works from Ife were seen in their shrines. The figures were mostly heads (considered the crown of the body and the seat of the soul) which depicted kings and queens,court attendants, sacrificial victims and other religious deities. Ife bronze casting is known and respected for its naturalistic and stylistic representation. By the 15th century, bronze works were encountered among the Benin people and characteristically, called ‘Benin Bronzes’. They were used to document events, or pay tribute to cultural and political figureheads; a large number of sculptures were commissions from royal families or people with political influence. The birth place of Benin bronzes, Igun Street, (now a UNESCO world heritage site), is still functioning today and production techniques continue to be passed down from generation to generation at this same location. The widespread rapid cultural adoption of certain mediums by both artists and collectors set the stage for the outpouring of artistic innovation that followed in the mid-20th century where artists such as Ben Enwonwu, Ben Osawe and Abayomi Barber created some of Nigeria’s most famous bronze sculptures.
Born in 1974, Alimi Adewale is a painter and sculptor despite studying mechanical engineering
in Ilorin, Nigeria.
His sculptures are an articulation of traditional African sculpture and experiment contemporary art. Incorporating elements of minimalism, expressionism and abstraction, Alimi’s work challenges affected belief systems in and about Nigeria.
As a self taught artist, Alimi has participated in several residencies such as Konstepidemin, Gotenburg (2017), MILIKI, Lagos (2017) and as held numerous exhibitions in Nigeria and throughout Europe.
Ihilosen (2018) by Victor EhikhamenorRele Arts Foundation
Born in 1970, Victor Ehikhamenor is a multi faceted artist whose practice encompasses painting, drawing, photography, sculpture and installations.
He draws inspiration from the dual aesthetic and spiritual traditions which infused his upbringing, using imagery and symbolism from both Edo traditional religion and Catholicism. His signature patterning is a frenetic mélange of gestural abstraction and stylised forms, revealing faces, objects and writing systems.
A 2016 Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Fellow, Ehikhamenor has held several solo exhibitions and his work has been included in numerous group exhibitions and biennales, including the 57th Venice Biennale as part of the Nigerian Pavilion (2017), 5th Mediations Biennale in Poznan, Poland (2016), the 12th Dak’art Biennale in Dakar, Senegal (2016), Biennale Jogja XIII, Indonesia (2015), and the 56th Venice Biennale as part of the German Pavilion (2015).
Nathalie Djakou Kassi
Rele Arts Foundation | Rele Gallery
Onikan, Lagos, Nigeria
For more information visit www.rele.co
Exhibit created by
Rele Gallery | Rele Arts Foundation