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‘ARAISM MOVEMENT’ WOWS ART LOVERS AT LAGOS EXHIBITION

L-R:George Egunjobi, exhibitor; Mufu Onifade, founder, Araism Movement; Dele Awosika, founder The Adeline Galery and Eweje Emmanuel, exhibitor, at the opening of the 19th Ara Exhibition held in Ilupeju, Lagos

 

Art lovers, enthusiasts and critics alike were treated to a fascinating spectacle of the best collection in contemporary Nigerian art at the opening of the 19th in the series of exhibitions organized by the nation’s leading art group known as ‘Araism Movement’. The 2-week long exhibition, hosted by Adeline Art Gallery runs from Saturday, 11th November till Saturday, 25th November 2023.

This curated showcase is a tribute to the painting technique, “Araism” developed in 2006 by the pioneer, Mufu Onifade, which tells the story of Africa in a variety of settings from beginning to end. The exhibition showcases the works of four Artists, including its founder, Mufu Onifade, and three other vibrant young artists who are still dedicated to this movement: George Egunjobi, Emmanuel Eweje, and Segun Phillips.

Spanning 17 distinct pieces, it stands as a celebration of African identity, cultural beliefs, and the beauty of diverse ideas and perspectives. These artists employed mediums like acrylic on canvas and mixed media etc; all of which echo a rich repertoire of Yoruba artistic culture.

In 1989, Araism began as a technique invented by Mufu Onifade who has trained many students from 1990 to date. Each student has also worked hard to develop his own style, using the technique as a base. Araism as a technique entails a process of cumbersome technicalities deserving of intense experimentation. It was launched in 1988 with a solo exhibition of 32 paintings by Mufu Onifade. On the other hand, Araism Movement was born in 2006 with an official grouping of interested, qualified students (members) who are regarded as disciples – all of them sharing a common fraternity with their teacher.

Araism Movement was established and formally launched on Saturday, July 22, 2006 with an exhibition of paintings in Araism by the proponent of the technique, Mufu Onifade and five of his disciples: Olaniyi Omojuwa, Tope Oguntuase, Dotun Popoola, Abiola Mautin Akande and Jonathan Ikpoza. The epoch-making event was held at Bruce Onobrakpeya’s Harmattan Workshop Gallery, Victoria Island, Lagos. The show was employed to re-launch the phenomenon of ARA (Aesthetically Rich Art) and ara (wonder) to the sensibilities of artists, art writers, gallery owners, the arts community and the general public. In recent times, every watcher of unfolding events in contemporary Nigeria cannot overlook or undervalue the emergence and prominence of Araism technique – nay the relatively young Movement. Araism is a creative force of reckoning while the Movement serves as a platform of projection to the technique and its many exponents.

It is a painting technique developed on the wings of Yoruba root words, culture and ideologies. When critically studied, these words aptly describe the visual components of any work executed in Araism technique. They are: Ara (wonder), Ara (thunder), Ara (body or skin) and Ara (relation or relative). However, two Igbo root words also suffice: Ara (breast) and Ara (madness).

In his address at the opening ceremony, the group’s founder, Mufu Onifade, fsna asserted that Araism Movement remains the most consistent Art group in Nigeria. “Since its inception in 2006, we have ensured that our annual exhibitions have remained our own way of marking our credible presence on the art scene of Nigeria and beyond. At times like this, it is difficult to put artists together for an exhibition of this magnitude. This should be understandable because the painstaking nature of the Araism painting technique is stifling enough to curry difficulty in execution.”

L-R: Dr. Adeola Balogun, lecturer, Arts Department, YABATECH; Mufu Onifade, founder, Araism Movement and Dele Awosika, founder, The Adeline Galery at the opening of the 19th Ara Exhibition held in Ilupeju, Lagos

The founder of The Adeline Gallery, Africa, Dele Awosika described “Araism” as a movement of note.  He stated, “It (the movement) certainly has been tried and tested and the yearning for this exhibition is encouraging by the deep appreciation expressed by the call for us to host this year’s exhibition. Nineteen unbroken years of exhibiting tells its own tale as the founder (Otunba Mufu Onifade) is disciplined, focused and intentional. We admire his fore sight and it is extremely hearty that Araism has become a form of Art proudly rooted in our way of life, culture and indeed our environment.”

Art enthusiasts and guests admire the art works at the opening of the 19th Ara Exhibition held in Ilupeju, Lagos

 

THE EXHIBITING ARTISTS

This year, despite having a large number of possible participants at the beginning of the year swelling to over 20, only 4 namely Mufu Onifade, George Egunjobi, Segun Phillips and Emmanuel Eweje are the last four men standing.

 

MUFU ONIFADE, fsna.

Mufu Onifade graduated in 1986 from The Polytechnic, Ibadan where he won the Best Student Prize. In 1992, he became the foremost Nigerian to master and practice Painting on Animal skin after training under the legendary Lemma Guya of Ethiopia, at the African Art Museum and Training Institute, Debre-Zeit (now Bishoftu), Ethiopia. He obtained B.A. (Hons.) Fine Arts, from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, with the overall best results in 1997. He also holds M.A. Art History from the same institution in 2010.

Onifade invented an authentic African painting technique now popularly known as Araism. He launched the technique with a solo art exhibition of 32 paintings at the Goethe-Institut (German Cultural Centre), Lagos in 1998. His second solo show was held at the French Cultural Centre, Ikoyi, Lagos in 2005 while the third was held at the Omenka Gallery in Ikoyi, Lagos in 2020.

He has also taken part in one joint show (held in London) and participated in over 100 group exhibitions including the first African Regional Summit and Exhibition on Visual Arts (ARESUVA 2008) and International Art Expo, Las Vegas (2008). His works have been ceremoniously shown in Ethiopia, Austria, United Kingdom, Belgium, United States, South Africa, etc.

Mufu Onifade founded the Araism Movement in 2006. He has led the Movement to 15 exhibitions in Lagos, three in Abuja and 1 international exhibition at the Studio 18 in the Pines, Florida, USA in 2014. The next exhibition is scheduled to be held in Canada In 2024. Onifade is an Arts writer, published author and playwright. He is a Fellow, Society of Nigerian Artists.

His 4 works on display at the current exhibition are titled: Afojusun (Focus), Awodi and Ikarahun, Iyi Adamu Orisa and Kofeso (Prof.).

 

GEORGE EGUNJOBI

George Egunjobi works and lives in Abeokuta as a full-time studio artist. Born in Lagos State, Nigeria, he is a graduate of Fine and Applied Arts from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State. He specialized in Painting. He works as a painter, muralist, installation artist, and multimedia artist.

He took part in the first International Art Exhibition of the Araism Movement held at the Studio 18 in the Pines, Pembroke Pines, Florida, USA in 2014. He was also one of the facilitators of the workshop organized to teach the technique of Araism to Artists at the Studio 18, featuring Art connoisseurs and young people at the Pembroke Pines, Florida, USA.

His 4 works on display at the current exhibition are titled: Large Sunflower, Earth-bound, Agbada Kerikeri and Awo Egungun (Gender Equality and Equity).

 

EMMANUEL EWEJE

Emmanuel Eweje was born on the 4th of April, 1990. He hails from Agbeye, Odo-Otin Local Government Area of Osun State. Having discovered his passion for Art from childhood, he went further to study Fine and Applied Arts at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.

He has won different competitions, including National Visual Art Competition (Zonal Category Winner), Demian Art Competition (2013), OAUNEXTRATED Star 2013(Art Category), Leap Africa Art Contest, Akili Dadaart Competition, Nairobi (2017), Rama  Art Competition (2018 – 1st Runner up); 2nd Runner-Up at the Spanish Embassy Art Competition (2021), and 1stPrize Winner Felabration Art Competition 2021 and 2023respectively – among others.

His 5 works on display at the current exhibition are titled: Akorede (One Who Brings Goodness), Eniola (Wealthy One), Iretiola (Anticipation of Wealth) Rest I and Rest II.

 

A cross section of some of the art works at the opening of the 9th Ara Exhibition held in Ilupeju, Lagos

 

SEGUN PHILLIPS

Segun Phillips is a young Nigerian studio-trained artist with a Diploma in Fine Arts from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. As a lover of good music, he finds inspiration in harmony, tunes and lyrical contents. His works is heavily influenced by a philosophy that yesterday is inextricably linked to the activities of today and have spiral effect on tomorrow.

This philosophy heavily influences his painting style derived from the Araism Painting technique. Through unique Afrocentric motifs and vibrant colours, Segun Phillips depicts a number of contemporary social issues affecting Africa, in a non-evasive way.

His 4 works on display at the current exhibition are titled: Do What I Do, Beauty From Within, The Garden Girl and Youthful.

A cross section of some of the art works at the opening of the 9th Ara Exhibition held in Ilupeju, Lagos

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