In line with his vision to expand art appreciation in Nigeria, Lekan Onabanjo the guest artist and also the curator of the gallery thought to celebrate female artists (The women’s brushstrokes).
Can we Meet you?
I’m a visual artist, an art consultant, and a businessman. I’d say I do the business of art which forms the basis of my existence. I am a trained artist, I went to art school at the Federal Polytechnic Auchi, Edo state, and graduated in 1991 after which I did my youth service. I then went to Lagos business school, PAN African university, and ever since I have been practicing actively. I have attended so many seminars and workshops and have over a hundred exhibitions recorded to my name worldwide.
How long have you been doing this?
I’ve been painting for three decades now and I’ve been doing basically that. Everything I own today was gotten from art, however, in between, I do a lot of things ranging from interior designs to event management and project management but it has to do with art. Initially, I wanted to be an architect, but fate brought me to this part. “Art found me”.
What drove the establishment of the content art gallery?
In 2017, when we started this journey, the CEO of Adam and Eve called me and pitched this idea, she told me her vision and we decided to create an environment where we display original art in a manner where people walk in and purchase art alongside luxury items. A lot of people buy paintings without knowing how to place them in their space or what to do with them. We agree to do exhibitions to communicate our vision, so we started with contemporary Nigerian artists. Since the gallery formally opened as a commercial space, the interest of collectors in art appreciation has been on the rise.
What is this event about, what brought about the “female” concept for this exhibition?
So far we have organized about five exhibitions and they were mostly male artists who have made their marks in the industry. We notice that people started grumbling about this male-centric situation because about 90% of the artist exhibited were male. As the curator of this gallery, it came to my table so we dove into it and selected some young, vibrant, and talented female artists. The artists represent the inner thoughts of most other female professionals across careers. The paintings on display, are also rich in aesthetics and critical content which The Content Art Gallery is known for. Our tradition in the content gallery is that we use one or two master guest artists to exhibit alongside the artist to encourage the artists, in this case, myself and Tolarowe.
How did you pick these Female artists?
We have a committee that carefully looks at the works of various artists then it is passed to the CEO of this establishment and after which we look at the remarks of the committee members before I collate the images as the curator. The committee ensures that this process is as fair and transparent as possible so that all artists are given a fair opportunity. The artists whose works are featured in ‘Through My Lens’ have been selected carefully to reflect the dynamism of female creative professions in Nigeria. “The theme of the exhibition provides the artists an opportunity to share individual views on women’s perspective of life, in general, but using the medium of visual arts,”.
Was there any challenge(s) in putting this exhibition together?
Every step is a step towards success and a goal. As you travel through time we face challenges. The journey has started and we look toward going through every challenge it brings.
Asides from the obvious monetary aspect what is the big picture you want to see from this event?
Our main focus in Adam and Eve and the content art gallery is to create an ambiance for art lovers and collectors. We want to tell Nigerians that they can get the best arts on the mainland rather than going to the island to purchase them. In actual fact, those who know the worth of art and have the financial capacity to purchase them are here on the mainland. Also, we would like to create a better picture of what art represents. Art appreciation in Nigeria is demystified, Firstly, People do not understand that without art, your space is practically lifeless “art is life”. Secondly, a lot of people do not understand the investment part of it. For instance, when you pick up a Lekan Onabanjo today in a few years you can rest assured that the value would appreciate without you doing anything, even if you decide not to trade the value can be passed on from generation to generation. Nigerians need to understand that it is not only crude oil or real estate that can be invested in, the older the art the better. Looking at this instead of buying properties, why not invest in art that would even outlive you?
Aside from exhibitions, do you have other ways of communicating this vision?
Yes, we do, but visuals give more millage, and exhibitions are the biggest form of communication in the art world. Aside from this, we use seminars and the media to drive our mission. The content art gallery is cooking a lot to be served.
Thank you for having Inland town new media, we look forward to seeing more of your works.
The exhibition featured seven exceptional female artists from all strata, namely Bunmi Oyesanya, Funmi Arabambi, Naomi Oyeniyi, Faith Michael, Nelly Idagba, Ogochukwu Ejiofor, and Taiye Erewele.