At the Frieze Art Fair, two creative Nigerian amazons hold court – THISDAYLIVE

Two acclaimed Nigerian female artists from different generations, Peju Alatise and Nike Davies-Okundaye, have their moments in the international spotlight at the Frieze Art Fair in London, UK. Okechukwu Uwaezuoke reports

Among the unmissable events of the international contemporary art market, the Frieze Art Fair occupies a place of honor. The art fair, which hosts 180 international galleries and hundreds of contemporary artists each year for five days, owes its beginnings to a magazine founded in 1991 by two childhood friends, Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover, and was officially launched as an art fair in London. , United Kingdom, in 2003.

Among its many participants this year are two leading Nigerian female artists, Peju Alatise and Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye, courtesy of kó Gallery. Already, Alatise’s “Sim & The Glass Birds” – or its recent unveiling as part of Frieze Sculpture 2022, a public art exhibition that features 19 works by various artists, including renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone and the poet and late American performer John Giorno – should have caught the attention of art-loving netizens, thanks to the social media buzz surrounding him.

Speaking of this sculpture exhibition, which has been running since Wednesday September 14th, it runs until Sunday November 13th at Regent’s Park in London. Alatise, already recognized as one of Nigeria’s leading experimental multidisciplinary female artists, has remained in the industry spotlight ever since her 3D work, “Flying Girls”, premiered at the 2017 Venice Biennale, where she participated as one of the artists. at the first Nigeria Pavilion. It was the same year that the 47-year-old fellow of the National Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institution also won the prestigious FNB Art Prize. That was before she was selected to be featured in the 2020 Venice Architecture Biennale. As well as being celebrated for her landmark local and international exhibitions, the founder of the ANAI Foundation was recently known for organizing residencies of artists in Morocco and Turkey.

His four-panel public installation, inspired by Yoruba tradition, is based on the fantastical flights of a 9-year-old servant, Sim, to an imaginary world teeming with Yoruba mythological creatures. Traumatized by her terrible condition as a working child in Lagos, Sim seeks solace in her dream world.

The artwork, made of cast granite, stainless steel, mild steel, resin and glass, depicts Sim with glass birds in flight, which will eventually break, which are glued above the panels . This fragility serves as a metaphor for the futility of his flight and his terrible and inevitable end.

Meanwhile, kó Gallery is showcasing the work of Nike Davies-Okundaye at the Frieze Masters, which wraps up on October 18 at Regent’s Park in London. Textile-based offerings include batik, patchwork and embroidery, which kó Gallery founder Kavita Chellaram says are recognized as works of art. The septuagenarian artist, who is also known for her paintings inspired by Yoruba mythology, seems to be more celebrated for her batik and textile designs, which have seen her giving workshops in Europe and North America.

She often recalls how, as a child, she learned what she needed to know about textile design from her great-grandmother, holder of the traditional title “Iyalode” of Ogidi, who not only wove fabrics but made also the tie. – dyed fabrics, locally called “adire”. But she would later learn the art of indigo dyeing and adire making at the town’s informal art school, which was established by the late Ulli Beier and his wife, Georgina, during his adolescence in Osogbo.

Chief Davies-Okundaye, who stands out at large gatherings for her large fan-shaped, or “gele” head coverings, is frequently seen in public wearing royal garments made from these “adire” textiles, qu ‘she helped popularize.

The matriarch of the visual arts scene born in Kogi State owns a large gallery, named Nike Art Center, near the Lekki highway in Lagos as well as three other cultural centers in Osogbo, Abuja and her hometown Ogidi. In these art centers, it offers free training to more than 150 young artists in the arts. She once revealed in a CNBC Africa interview that she had trained over 3,000 young Nigerians for free, although that number should have since increased thanks to her tireless efforts to help many less privileged to start their small businesses and also through its art workshops in different parts. from Nigeria.

More than 15,000 works of art, mostly by other Nigerian artists, take up most of the space on the four floors of his Lagos art center, leaving relatively little space for his own works. This was indeed the purpose for which the gallery building was designed.

The woman, known as “Nike Mama”, has for more than 50 years of studio practice participated in more than 102 solo exhibitions and 36 group exhibitions. His works have since 2012 found their place in the collection of the Smithsonian Museum as well as the Gallery of African Art and the British Library, in London. This is in addition to others in other public collections around the world and private homes.

Holder of prestigious chef titles – the Yeye Oba of Ogidi-Ijumu and the Yeye Tasase of Osogbo – currently teaches at several universities in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, even without a university education.

Her presentation at Frieze Masters London, which includes textiles, dyeing, weaving, beading, painting and embroidery from the 1960s to the 1980s, is included in the Spotlight section, which is a curated section of the fair dedicated to pioneering women artists of the twentieth century.

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