Monday, 18 June 2018

Olotu revisited...

Oyerinde Olotu*
In 2011, I was approached by the artist Oyerinde Olotu, to write a few words that would feature in the brochure of his exhibition Cities, People & Countryside. The exhibition took place in the October of that year. It was perhaps, the last major exhibition that the artist would organise himself. 

Oyerinde Olotu was born in Ondo State (Nigeria) in 1959. He is a graduate of Yaba College of Technology ("Yaba 'Tech") - an institution that is renowned for its very impressive creative alumni. Olotu graduated from Yaba 'Tech in 1981. He was also the overall best graduating student of the Fine Arts Department in that year. Prior to focusing on a career as a visual artist, Olotu worked as an art teacher and he also worked in advertising. He lives with his family in Lagos. 

The works featured in Cities, People & Countryside paid tribute to some iconic locations in Nigeria, such as the popular Idanre Hills in Ondo State and Isale Eko in central Lagos. 

Idanre I, 2010 oil on canvas*


Cities, People & Countryside


This collection features exceptional, dramatic, and in true "Olotu Style", nostalgic images.

For me, the words in the exhibition title have been wisely placed...cities: people; and countryside.

Like a fine gossamer thread woven through each work, the word 'People' forms an intricate connection, uniting the contrasting landscapes of cities and countrysides. People give character to cities; and people breathe human activity into the countryside - lending sight and sound to the imagery.

And so, I warmly congratulate Olotu on producing yet another invaluable collection of works. Above all, I thank him - as he continues to take us down memory lane - by serving an invitation to explore further the splendour that once existed, and in a sense, still exists, in Nigeria today... 

Feyi Raimi-Abraham 
September 2011**



Abandoned one-lane colonial bridge, Sobe, Edo State 2009, oil on canvas*

*All images are the property of the artist
**from the brochure of Cities, People & Countryside - Travels with an artist's eye, Oyerinde Olotu

Sunday, 22 April 2018

remembering Kenneth Murray...

Yoruba Drummers & Dancers by Lasekan
image:artnet
21 April 2018 marked 46 years since the death of Kenneth Murray. The English archaeologist was recruited to teach art in Nigeria, and arrived in the West African country in 1927.

One of his most significant achievements was the founding of the National Museum in Lagos. Murray was also instrumental in nurturing and mentoring some young Nigerian artists, including Akinola Lasekan and Ben Enwonwu - both of who were later to become notable artists in their own rights.

Kenneth Crosthwaite Murray lived in Nigeria for 45 years. He died there on 21 April 1972.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

in celebration of women!

image:artnet.com*







"Instruct a man, you instruct an individual. Instruct a woman, you instruct a nation."  (Moroccan proverb)
















*Mother Again 3 (2013) oil on canvas, Ablade Glover

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Seun Kuti & Dele Sosimi - 2nd March 2018

image:soundcrashmusic.com
'You could take the fact that Seun Kuti, not his older brother Femi, heads Egypt 80 as conclusive evidence that he is the baton-bearer for Fela Kuti’s legacy' – The Quietus*

"Seun Kuti, youngest son of late and great Fela Kuti, will be taking the stage at Electric Brixton for a rare, once in a lifetime show. Egypt 80, the same band that was fronted by his legendary father, will be joining him on stage to get the audience dancing the night away.

After the release of his now renowned album Africa With Fury: Rise, Seun Kuti, who started performing by his father’s side at only 9 years old, proved that he not only inherited his father’s talent, but also his passion and anti-establishment fury. Kuti’s most recent album, A Long Way to the Beginning, has also gained critical acclaim. The songs are faster, harder, beautifully intricate and, as always, defiantly political.

Egypt 80, astoundingly good musicians in their own right, will work with Kuti to deliver explosive power filled with wild, funky energy and deliciously compelling rhythms. Together, they will bring Fela Kuti’s afrobeat legacy to life, all while spinning his classic Afrobeat sound into the modern era.

Dele Sosimi, original member of Fela Kuti’s band, will be joining Seun Kuti. Sosimi will be bringing his vivacious Afrobeat Orchestra with him to deliver a whirlwind of afro-funk.

Once the live acts have boosted your spirits, special guest DJs will take up residence to keep the dance floor moving with heavy beats.

Prepare your dancing feet for what will be the Afrobeat night of the year at a massive, iconic London venue."*

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 with Dele Sosimi & Afrobeat Orchestra
Electric Brixton
Friday 2nd March, 2018
9pm to 4am
Tickets: £18.50-22.50

*image & text:Soundcrashmusic.com

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

"Tutu" is found...but remains a mystery

image:Ben Enwonwu Foundation
One of Ben Enwonwu's three original paintings titled Tutu, has been found in a north London home!

It is not clear how or why the portrait made its way to north London, but there is no doubt that this find is very important, especially in the world of modern African art.

Tutu will "headline Bonham's February 2018 Africa Now sales".*

The painter and sculptor Ben Enwonwu, painted the portrait of Princess Adetutu ("Tutu") Ademiluyi in 1973. The Princess was a granddaughter of Ooni Ademiluyi of Ile-Ife.

Ile-Ife, (or "Ife"), is an ancient city in western Nigeria and is recognised as being the spiritual home of the Yorubas across the world. 

Enwonwu executed two more originals of this work between 1973 and 1974. 

According to Bonham's, "Enwonwu considered the Tutu series very important to his development as an artist; they are defining works of his postcolonial practice and late stylistic period."**

Although some prints of Tutu have been in circulation over the years, the legend is that Princess 'Tutu disappeared shortly after sitting for the first portrait in 1973. At the same time, and equally mysteriously, the first and actual 1973 painting of the Princess also went missing! The whereabout of that piece remains a mystery to this day. 

Africa Now
28 February 2018
Bonhams, New Bond Street
London W1S 1SR

*benenwonwufoundation.org
**bonhams.com

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Artexpo New York, April 2018

image: theknocktumal.com

Artexpo
organisers have described the annual exhibition of international art as being "...the world's largest fine art marketplace."* The expo is expected to feature over 1,000 artists and galleries. The Expo will attract over 30,000 attendees and art enthusiasts. Full details on applications to exhibit or indeed to attend, are available at artexponewyork.com.

Artexpo New York
19th to 22nd April, 2018
Pier 94
711 12th Avenue
New York
USA

*artexponewyork.com

Sunday, 26 November 2017

zaynnah conversation...with Dele Sosimi

image:Gavin Mills
Afrobeat ambassador Dele Sosimi, played keyboards in Fela Kuti’s band Egypt 80. When Fela was imprisoned in 1984, Dele co-led the band with Fela’s son, Femi.  Dele and Femi went on to form their own band, Positive Force, in 1986.  Keyboardist, vocalist, musical director, musical arranger and composer Dele Sosimi arrived on the London music scene in the mid-nineties. He formed his own band shortly afterwards and has not looked back since...

What led you to a career in music? 

I was led to music by the life-changing experience of meeting Femi Kuti, who introduced me to Fela Kuti. For me, music is more of a passion - it is my life and not just a career. 

Why Music? 

Because it speaks to my soul! My soul expresses through music created, composed and performed. Each live performance is a fresh and true expression of the passions of the ups, downs, pains and  joys of living Life. Most especially, Music gives me the added joy of being able to share my knowledge when I teach and facilitate Afrobeat workshops and masterclasses. I am also able to share my knowledge through collaborations, talks, lectures and symposia.

Is there a particular message that you seek to share through your music?

Loads of messages! But mainly messages of love for one another, love for life, peace...and most especially, a message of tolerance (for one another). 

You have performed widely all over the world, which location has been the most memorable and why?

Tough one to answer! But I will say my Afrobeat Vibration performances in London at The New Empowering Church in Hackney (now closed) and later The Forge Camden (now closed). Why? because over a nine-year period, I managed to build and sustain a great following, whilst also keeping Afrobeat alive - Fela's Afrika Shrine-style...with four-hour marathon non-stop live sets until the "wee" hours of the morning! This left unforgettable experiences in the minds of our audiences, musicians and hosts!

Are musicians born or are they made?
                                              
It depends really - t's wrong to generalise in any case. My strong convictions, based on my own experience, is that many are made, many are born and many are industry manufactured!

What would you say is the difference between Afrobeat and Afrobeats? Is there a difference or are they the same thing?

Simply put, Fela originated Afrobeat with a very friendly, non-commercial attitude. His vision resulted in a very strong unapologetic "in your face" socio-political conscious body of lyrics. It grew to become more than just music - Afrobeat became Fela's way of life. It became his attitude to life and his personal cause. Twenty years after his death, Afrobeat is still being defined, re-defined, analyzed and researched within academia. Afrobeats, on the other hand, is more of an industry created Afro-pop style with a very tastily catchy, trendy, commercial-friendly flair. Afrobeat and Afrobeats are definitely not the same on numerous levels. 

What was Fela Kuti like to work with or to work for?

If you knew what to expect and had no false expectations or illusions of grandeur, Fela was great to work for and with! He was a great teacher, a great groove master and wordsmith. The many stories he shared of his challenges as a young musician growing up in London, sort of prepared me for life in the UK.

What does the rest of the year hold for you?

We have the 9th anniversary of Afrobeat Vibration featuring Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Orchestra (DSAO) in London at The Jazz Cafe in London on December 15. I am also working on my next albums and collaborations for 2018 and beyond.

Dele Sosimi...thank you!


E go betta
by Dele Sosimi (at Felabration 2015, London)