Gele ati Asọ́-Oke Exhibition: Aiming for the Footsteps of Success

The Gele ati Asọ́-Oke exhibition is aiming to follow in the footsteps of the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) Lagos’s 2014 crowdfunded publication of a monograph on Nigerian Photographer J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere. J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere along with Benedy and Sons, Dr Okubanjo and others were the legendary photographers, affiliated with the Universality of Ibadan, who were documenting the city of Ibadan at its height as the seat of government for the then Western Region of Nigeria of the 1950s and 60s.

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J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere monograph, 2014

161 backers worldwide helped launch the publication of the J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere monograph, contributing an average of about £100 each to raise £15,500 exceeding the crowd funding campaign’s target of £13,500. The Gele ati Asọ́-Oke exhibition crowdfunding campaign is hoping to emulate this success.

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The origins of the label “Yoruba photography”

Yoruba photography is not a new term. It is at least five decades old. The anthropologist Stephen Sprague as far back as 1979 used the label Yoruba photography in his seminal academic article on the Yoruba people and the unique ways they incorporated and used photography in their culture. Some 40 years before Sprague, the German Afrophile Diedrich Westerman singled out the adoption of photography by the Obas (Yoruba kings), in the late nineteenth century, as an example of a culturally specific use of the technology, stopping short of using the label Yoruba photography.

Gallery invite

Yoruba woman with baby. Photograph: © Olu Alabi c.1970s

Post 1979 all has remained relatively quiet on Yoruba photography. Many have danced around it, for example, looking at how Yoruba photographers have helped spread the technology and skill throughout West Africa. A lot needs to be done on locating Yoruba photography in the Yoruba land itself. This is for the simple reason of showing how cultures are able to adopt technologies, put their stamp on it and become part of a global network and economy.

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Look Van Gogh, it’s Ofosu without paint, brush or canvas!

GalleriaClic is excited to promote Edward Ofosu’s first solo exhibition of essentially iPad art. One of Ofosu’s artistic heroes is David Hockney. And why should Ofosu not admire Hockney, after all, the pioneering artist not only experimented with iPad art, he has proceeded to champion and adopt it as part of his repertoire.

David Hockney by Edward Ofosu 2014 (iPad art)

David Hockney by Edward Ofosu 2014 (iPad art)

Artists such as Vincent van Gogh, who we revere today, would have adopted and gone crazy over (excuse the pun) iPad art. Van Gogh painted with frenzy and a sense of urgency and was reputed to have produced one painting per day over the 70 days that lead up to his death. Imagine how many paintings he would have produced with his iPad art app! Using an iPad art app would have fitted in perfectly with van Gogh’s attempt, as he painted en plein air, to create a new painting each time he noticed the quality of the light change, even while he was in the middle of another painting of the same scene. His Wheat Fields series of paintings was a result of this ambition. Van Gogh’s ambitions are reflected in Ofosu’s free-flow use of iPad art

Ofosu is a prolific portrait artist and is particularly keen on observing people in action. He has been submitting entries to the BP Portrait Award for quite a few years and was at this year’s Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year, hosted by comedian Frank Skinner and broadcaster Joan Bakewell, showcasing his skills. Galleriaclic is suggesting that Ofosu takes a bold step and submit an iPad art painting for his next entry to the BP Portrait Award.

A Journey with the New, Ofosu’s all iPad art solo exhibition opens on Thursday, 27th November 2014 from 6pm to 9pm at Prince of Wales Surgery, 87-89 Prince of Wales road, Kentish Town, NW5 3NT. In addition to a collection of mainly portraits this exhibition includes Ofosu’s foray into landscapes and abstracts. The exhibition is on at the Prince of Wales Surgery until 20th December. This is not a GalleriaClic event.

By Depo Olukotun

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Cai Guo-Qiang: The artist behind Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red?

Could the Chinese artist, Cai Guo-Qiang be the originator of the look and visual idea of Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red?

Head On, installation by Cai Guo-Qiang

Head On by Cai Guo-Qiang

Reflection-A Gift from Iwaki, installation  by Cai Guo-Qiang

Reflection-A Gift from Iwaki by Cai Guo-Qiang

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red by Cai Guo-Qiang?

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Banksy’s Pigeons versus Exhibit B: Lessons in how to and how not to

For about 24 hours in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, a contemporary work of art resonated with us as a contemporary audience, while being effortlessly clever and intelligent. Then it was stopped dead in its tracks. But this need not matter, thanks to 24 hour digital mass media Banksy’s point has been made and it will live on in our minds and virtual reality for a long time to come. Banksy has extraordinarily succeeded where another publicised artistic effort, which was also stopped dead in its tracks, has failed rather spectacularly. I am talking about Exhibit B, which in September caused a stir amongst anti-racism campaigners, and was branded racist just as Banky’s Pigeons was.

Banksy’s Racist Pigeons at Clacton-on-Sea

Banksy’s Racist Pigeons at Clacton-on-Sea

In branding them racist both Banky’s Pigeons and Exhibit B were censored but that is about where the similarity between the two artistic efforts ends. While Banky’s Pigeons confronts, Exhibit B just shocks, merely for the fun of it. While Banky’s Pigeons is clever, Exhibit B is stark and offensive. Did I get to see Exhibit B? No. Do I need to have seen it to make these judgements? No. The snatches of images of black people chained, gagged or bound I have seen, on various news media, are enough to cause me to recoil in anger and disgust.

Art has long struggled to be educational. It was in losing its ability to educate that the masses began to see it as not particularly relevant. At best it entertains and at worst it is just ignored. In the bid to counter being ignored the idea of shock tactics was born. However, we as an audience quickly moved from being shocked to becoming desensitized and maybe amused, artist Grayson Perry said as much in his Reith lectures. In the end art has become a just-because-I-can endeavour. Exhibit B is nothing more than an example of this type of endeavour.

Purveyors of Exhibit B need to be offering a lot more than the accusations of censorship and their right to freedom of expression to justify their output. Rather than resting on the crutch of free expression, the question they need to answer is: How have our efforts contributed to the debate on racism in Britain and Europe? These purveyors need to be aware that they are operating within an environment of shock and amusement. However, the history of slavery, colonialism and racism are far too fresh and their legacies far to prevalent in our society today and the daily existence of black people, to be reduced to shock tactics and amusement. Their motifs or imagery needed to be sensitive and their message needed to be clever, intelligent and relevant. Banky’s choice of birds was a clever and a sensitive motif. His message was very relevant and maybe too relevant for comfort, but his intelligent choice of location Clacton-on-Sea, in Essex meant he caught the eye of the relevant and right audience.

The purveyors of Exhibit B need to: stop bleating about censorship, take correction and be aware of how important the imagery they were presenting was in this fast moving digital age. As much as we might like to deny it our civilisation is image led and our eyes are fast becoming the sum total of our instincts. No matter how important and relevant Exhibit B’s message purported to be, its vessel or cast was black and some commentators have dared to point out that this matters. A black cast was only going to attract a black and friendly non-Black audience. I will be interested in the arguments of the purveyors of Exhibit B on how their imagery was the right one for this audience.

There was nothing complex about the imagery of Exhibit B, unlike Banksy’s clever use of pigeons. Exhibit B’s imagery was visceral and starkly recalls the trauma its likely audience should not be wasting their emotional reserve to deal with. This audience has bigger fish to fry in the grand scheme of their hybrid existence as products of a recent traumatic diaspora. That its purveyors did not see this means their ability to engage with Exhibit B’s purported narrative needs to be questioned. That they did not anticipant the framing of their imagery in this digital age means their credentials, as artists need to be questioned.

Exhibit B’s imagery was deeply flawed. Its purveyors argument of a right to freedom of expression is very weak and a creaky crutch. Freedom of expression is a tool, a means to an end, not an end in itself. With so-called rights come responsibilities.

By Depo Olukotun

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Turner Prize 2014: A retort

‘It’s about owning images and disorientating them’: Turner prize 2014 nominee James Richards should not need to explain his work(!)

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Mishka Henner: The Brutal Beauty of Prophetic Photography

Of nine exhibiting photographers, the images of Mishka Henner captured the theme of “Consumption” in the Prix Pictet exhibition of shortlisted photographs at the Victoria & Albert Museum. In this instalment of Prix Pictet’s efforts to “harness the power of photography” to draw attention to the global impact of “Consumption” Henner’s big and bold photography prints stood out, closely followed by Hong Hao’s. Neither Henner’s or Hao’s photographs should be beautiful but they are while simultaneously driving home a message to us. Both readily stair up debate, which could either be about the environment, photography or aesthetics.

Mishka Henner, Coronado Feeders

Coronado Feeders by Mishka Henner

Henner’s Coronado Feeders uses a brutal beauty to foretell a brutal truth. Of course there is the danger that Henner’s images are so politically apt and on trend that they are clichéd but what was interesting looking at Coronado Feeders, for example, was the creation of visual impact from so politically on-trend and so emotive a subject matter. Juxtaposed with Hao, we see what visual arrest and the mosaic of impact the consumption of one individual is capable of (Hao) compared to the scaring arrest and impact of the consumer demands of a town, country, region or the globe at large (Henner).

Prix Pictet at the V&A, The Porter Gallery, Thursday 22 May 2014 – Saturday 14 June 2014.

By Depo Olukotun

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