For immediate release:
18th February 2019
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London’s TAFETA Gallery to Present a Landmark Exhibition of Leading Modernist Artists at Art Dubai
Dubai--TAFETA is proud to present a landmark exhibition showcasing works from eight leading modernist artists working across Africa and Europe from the 1960s to the present day. Each of these artists was affiliated with the Mbari Artists and Writers Club in Ibadan, Nigeria and its regional chapters: Mbari Mbayo in Osogbo, Nigeria and Mbari Enugu in Eastern Nigeria.
Established in 1961, The Mbari Artists and Writers Club in Ibadan was founded by a diverse group of artists, writers, musicians, actors and intellectuals. Their intention was to develop a strong artistic identity for the newly independent nation, celebrating Nigerian traditions while drawing on elements from other cultures. The club championed the work of artists at the forefront of defining modernism inspired by the experience of colonisation, racial discrimination, and the encounter between Western modernity and indigenous cultures.
Mbari was an international environment, attracting and exhibiting artists from across Africa and beyond. In 2011, The Daily Telegraph noted that: "The Mbari Club became synonymous with the optimism and creative exuberance of Africa’s post-independence era. Fela Kuti made his debut as bandleader there, and it became a magnet for artists and writers from all over Africa, America and the Caribbean.”
The foremost visual artists associated with the group that we are bringing to Art Dubai are: Ibrahim El-Salahi from Sudan, Malangatana from Mozambique, Susanne Wenger from Austria, Muraina Oyelami, Ben Osawe, Jimoh Buraimoh Uche Okeke and Bruce Onobrakpeya, from Nigeria.
Ibrahim El-Salahi (born 1930) studied art in London and became a leader of the Sudanese Khartoum School and the first African artist to have a retrospective at the Tate Modern, London. El Salahi’s drawings and paintings combine European styles with traditional Sudanese themes in his art, fusing Cubist and Surrealist motifs with Arabic calligraphy and Islamic iconography.
Malangatana (1936-2011) produced a significant body of work that was intimately connected with his politics and reflects the socio-political conditions of Mozambique during the struggle for independence (gained in 1975) and during the civil war (1977–92). Between 1965 and 1971, Malangatana was awarded a grant from the Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon to study printmaking and ceramics in Portugal. This was a valuable experience that he incorporated into his politically charged paintings and large-scale murals.
Susanne Wenger (1915-2009) was artistically trained in Vienna and moved to Nigeria in 1950. Her commitment to restoring and reviving the shrines of the Yoruba gods in Oshogbo is well documented, and for 40 years her life and art revolved around the New Sacred Art Movement shrines and its associated artists. Wenger explored Yoruba philosophy and religion in her work, which spanned sculpture, architecture, prints and textiles.
Muraina Oyelami (born 1940) has a certificate in dramatic arts from the University of Ife, where he has taught music and dance (1976–87) and became a museum curator. Oyelami is considered to be one of the foremost artists in the Oshogbo School, which emerged in Southwest Nigeria in the 1960s. Fusing traditional Yoruba motifs with German Expressionist painting, his work exemplifies the bold lines and colours that are associated with this School. Oyelami’s work has been exhibited at the Museum of African Art Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC; the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles and the Staatlichen Kunsthalle, Berlin - to name a few.
Ben Osawe (1931-2007) was first trained in art by his father, who was a sculptor for the ruler, Oba Eweka II of Benin. From 1956-59 he studied at the Camberwell School of Arts, London and returned to Nigeria to teach at the University of Nsukka. Osawe’s work was included in the highly acclaimed exhibition The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa, 1945-1994, curated by Okwui Ewenzor and shown at MoMA PS1, New York; Museum Villa Stuck, Munich; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and House of World Cultures, Berlin. His work is also in the permanent collection of the National Museum of Nigeria.
Jimoh Buraimoh (born 1943) trained at the Mbari Arts and Writers Club, Ibadan, in a workshop where he learned to paint, make prints, and inlay tiles and small beads to create mosaic plaques and tables. He gradually expanded his repertoire to include bead paintings and murals, which are reminiscent of traditional Yoruba beaded cloaks, staffs, crowns and stools.
Uche Okeke (1933-2016) studied at the Nigerian College of Art, Science and Technology, Zaria where he helped found the Zaria Art Society, later known as the “Zaria Rebels.” He also studied stained glass and mosaic techniques at the Franz Mayer Studio in Munich. As a major proponent of Natural Synthesis, an artistic manifesto designed by the Zaria Rebels, Okeke used his knowledge of Igbo culture to create a viable synthesis of tradition-based and modernist artistic forms.
Bruce Onobrakpeya (born 1932) studied at the Nigerian College of Arts, Science, and Technology in Zaria, where he developed an interest in forging a unique style that aimed to decolonize itself from Western influences. Celebrated for his innovative printmaking techniques, Onobrakpeya has pioneered bronzed lino relief and metal foil deep etching. His aesthetic draws inspiration from a variety of source material, including the art of the Benin Kingdom, regional Nigerian landscape painting, Christian iconography, and the political challenges of his home country. Onobrakpeya’s works are in the collections of the Vatican Museum in Rome, the National Gallery in Nairobi, and the National Museum of African Arts, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., among others.
2019 MARCH 20 – 23, 2019