Written By David Ugbabe
Top dignitaries and art lovers were hosted the art exhibition held at Alliance Francais/Mike Adenuga Centre showcasing the beautiful works of Nigeria’s phenomenal artist, Oliver Enwonwu where his exceptional artworks were presented by SMO Contemporary Art in the beautiful gallery.
The event which held on Sunday, September 21, 2021 was titled “Politics of Representation; An Exhibition of Recent Paintings by Oliver Enwonwu”. Describing his works, the host Nnobi said, “His works are odes to beauty, excellence, and reality, reminding one of visual poetry in the style of the great classics.” She shed light on the portrayal of mostly women of pre-colonial and post-colonial era, noting that his works “speak to the omission of black people from the narrative in mostly western parts. And of these arts predominantly depict black women.” He noticed that in the canon of global arts, the way black people were depicted was not one of dignity.
The Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo was represented by the Director General of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, Mr Folorunsho Coker, who stated that on his arrival to Abuja in 2017, he changed the laws of Tourism in Nigeria because they were just too old and did not support for example the creative industry where incredible talent lies. He credited Oliver Enwonwu for joining in the fight to sell the idea to change the laws of the Nigerian Tourism Development Laws and hopes it will be achievable before 2023. He said, “Oliver understood one thing; arts needs its own space; it is in places like this that arts stand chest out, strong and command the value that it commands. He remarked that “we cannot be ignored” as far as art is concerned. Coker stressed that “We need galleries and museums built so that Nigerian arts doesn’t have to travel to command the respect and values that it has here”.
In his remark, Oliver appreciated the invited guests and art enthusiasts for making the exhibition. He said, “It’s time that we come into our own, and that is what exhibition is all about; in process for representation. As a people we have been able to negotiate within our space. Supported by his family who were present as he showcased an elegant painting of his mother at 70 who recently turned 80. Friends from Kings College Lagos, Members of Society for Nigerian Artists.
Present at the exhibition was Princess Ronke Ademiluyi, the Ile-Ife royal house, who Oliver noted was the subject of two of his paintings displayed at the exhibition. Also in attendance were, Nigerian businesswoman, socialite and traditional aristocrat, Chief Abiola Dosunmu, the Ambassador of France, Mr Jerome Pasquier; Mr Damien Jean-Marie, Deputy Director Alliance Française amongst others.