Two foundations – one Nigerian, the other Turkish – are collaborating for an ongoing touring exhibition that covers Ethiopia, Turkey and the US as reported by Okechukwu Uwaezuoke.
A gaggle of artists is not an unusual sight here. This set was huddled around a glass-topped table at the roofed open-air meeting space between an office block and the stately residential building in the OYASAF Lagos Mainland-based premises. OYASAF (acronym for Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation) was co-hosting them this Monday morning (February 17) with two representatives of its Turkish collaborators, UFUK Dialogue Foundation. OYASAF and UFUK had agreed to collaborate and work together on a project, which involved annually featuring Nigerian visual arts in a touring exhibition to various parts of the world.
The inaugural edition of this project has already kicked off with an exhibition which opened yesterday and ends today at Addis Ababa before proceeding to Istanbul (Turkey), Chicago, Washington DC and New York (USA).
Of course, these would not be this venue’s first stirrings of life. For OYASAF had, just before the end of January, hosted a lecture by the University of Nigeria, Nsukka-based Dr Ozioma Onuzulike. The lecture, which was a review of the art auctions, drew several members of the local art community to the OYASAF premises.
But this gathering was different. It was intended for a few people. Hugs, sometimes followed with backslaps and banters, announced new arrivals. Soon the initial intimate circle around the table extended to other tables. The OYASAF founder and chairman, Omooba Yemisi Shyllon –smartly-dressed in a jacket, shirtsleeve and a denim trouser – emerged from a back entrance to the residential building and announced the relocation to the L-shaped mini-conference centre at the fishpond-end of the premises.
This air-conditioned meeting room, the setting of several lively artistic cerebrations in the past, was just right for this gathering. On a good day, it would have been capacity-filled. But because today’s gathering was an exclusive one, there were fewer people here and the ambience was convivial.
Basically, it was a meeting between the OYASAF team, the UFUK representatives (Oguzhan Dirican, the president, and Mehmet Sebabli), and the artists. Raqib Bashorun, unanimously endorsed by his colleagues, was the artists’ spokesman. There was a deal to be sealed and all the parties involved must be happy with it.
Sealing the deal meant crossing the “t’s” and dotting the “i’s”, after scrutinising the tripartite agreement on a large flat screen attached to the wall. No one should be short-changed by the deal.
Fifteen works produced by 13 artists were billed to feature during the touring exhibition. The one-year exhibition extends OYASAF’s goal of becoming a hub for Nigerian art as well as a point of contact for scholars, critics, artists and enthusiasts. The foundation, in its website, hopes to build a broad international audience for Nigerian art and direct the focus of international researchers, critics and curators towards art and artists in the country.“What we are doing is what galleries do for profit,” Shyllon explained in an interview. “The only people who will make profit from this deal are the artists themselves. They are entitled to receive the sales proceeds if their works are sold.”
But for UFUK and OYASAF, this endeavour is seen as a way of strengthening Turkish-Nigerian ties through art. “The Nigerian artworks will be exhibited alongside works by artists from Turkey and from Sudan – both North and South.”The touring exhibition’s theme, “Peace”, resonates with these troubled times, what with an overwhelming number of conflict zones in the world. It also re-echoes UFUK’s principal goal, “which is to promote peace in the world and contribute to a peaceful coexistence of the adherents of different faiths, cultures, ethnicities and races.”
Founded in Nigeria in 2011, UFUK was establish to “foster interfaith and intercultural dialogue, stimulate thinking and exchange of opinions on supporting and fostering democracy and peace all over the world and to provide a common platform for education and information.”Only 2-D works were selected by a screening committee constituted by the two foundations and the representatives of the artists. All the works chosen for this exhibition were already existing products of the artists. None was commissioned.
Prices for the works, including additional amounts as percentage margin, were agreed by the parties. UFUK takes the responsibility of caring for the works for the 12-month duration of the touring exhibition. “In the event than an Artist’s work is sold during exhibitions, the proceeds of such sales shall be paid into an account nominated by the artist less agreed UFUK percentage margins,” according to a clause in the agreement.
The Turkish foundation is however required to return an artwork, which remains unsold after the conclusion of the touring exhibition, “in safe and sound condition” within 90 days. Where the foundation fails to do this, it is compelled to pay the agreed sales price less the percentage margin accruable to it within 40 days. It is also expected to reimburse the artist “for not more than 20% of the original net agreed price” where any of the artwork is damaged.
Meanwhile, UFUK takes responsibility for the proper handling, door to door insurance coverage, administrative costs, production of exhibition catalogues, transportation, packaging and framing all artworks chosen for the exhibition.
Featuring at the ongoing exhibition are mainly established artists drawn from different generations likeVeronica Otigbo Ekpei, Tolu Aliki, Mufu Onifade, Raqib Bashorun, Toyin Omolowo, Juliet Ezenwa Maja-Pearce and Kelani Abass. These are complemented by a few upcoming ones like Ahmed Biodun Akinrinola, Soji Akinbo, Seyi Ajayi, Adeola Balogun, and Ariyo Oguntimehin.
March 14, 2014