Saturday, January 3, 2015

African Artists Foundation Annual Art Competition (2014) - Erasmus Onyishi wins

Finally the art competition organised by the African Artists Foundation and Nigerian Breweries Plc, has come to a glorious conclusion especially for Erasmus Onyishi who won the first prize and carting away the handsome reward of 2 million naira in cash. Also, for the outstanding concept prize winner – Modupe fadugba, it was sweet victory going home with a cash of 1 million naira. The outstanding production prize of 1 million naira too, went to Paul Mbah, while two other finalists – Nkechi Ebubedike and Amarachi Okafor won for themselves 500 thousand naira each for their equally superlative performances.

Lines patches and pathos - mixed media by Erasmus Onyishi

The competition, and event of the prize presentation and exhibition that followed, which took place at the Civic Centre on November 26, 2014 in Victoria Island – Lagos, lived up to its billing and high standards. The juried competition was raised in stature and allure by the judging panel of respected professionals led by eminent artist and university don, Professor El Anatsui with the inclusion of a special jurors’ prize this time around.

They also had to increase the prize money for the winners because of the high standard and quality of works of art that were seen in this year’s turn out by the participants. This laudable project which was inaugurated in 2008 first came out with theme – ‘Unbreakable Nigerian Spirit’ at that time. But this year the contending artists had to weave their creative energies round the concept of Intervention. I thought it was an interesting and highly engaging theme which encouraged artists to conceive a perception of their environment in consideration of its ever changing socio-cultural as well as political coexistence, and variegated nuances of the present milieu.

The Civic Centre, location of African Artists Foundation

I am highly encouraged and indeed full of praises for the work of the African artists Foundation and their partners – Nigerian Breweries Plc for the nature and steady growth of this project. Thus by the time twelve artists were shortlisted from the crowd of hundreds that submitted proposals, a week-long retreat and art workshop followed immediately where the artists were guided by highly experienced professionals through a process of fleshing up their creative ideas. Very importantly, they were each given stipends to enable them fully bring to birth what their creative energies had conceived in the form of the final artworks for the competition and exhibition.

At the end of the day I can attest to the fact that the artists and organisers were able to achieve a laudable aim for which they set out to accomplish. Thus with the works a veritable public dialogue and social discourse has been set in motion. Notably featuring among the artists and their works included - ‘Mat-Matics’ by Emmanuel Dudu; ‘The Butterfly effect’ by Modupeola fadugba; ‘Lines, Patches and Pathos’ by Erasmus Onyishi; ‘The Quiet Light Within’ by Nkechi Ebubedike, etc. 

Lines, Patches and Pathos, the entry by the overall winner, Erasmus Onyishi as it was aimed to achieve, did justice to awaken the consciousness of society to the scourge of urban refuse and the challenge posed by managing it. And so we are pleasantly greeted with the idea of wealth creation even through the medium of art and sundry activities, from a sprawling landscape of refuse and urban waste.

By Morgan Nwanguma

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