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Comics now more of art than entertainment

Nowadays, comics are gradually becoming a unique language expressing different thoughts and themes. They have gone from being just entertainment pieces that children and adults…

Nowadays, comics are gradually becoming a unique language expressing different thoughts and themes. They have gone from being just entertainment pieces that children and adults read in books and magazines to being instruments of satire and denunciation of political and societal ills. Artists say, “Around the world, it is presented as a tool that is conceived from very specific, local ideas, but that at the same time, it is extrapolated to all cultures as it raises concerns and common issues.”  

It was in this light that the Spanish Embassy in collaboration with Thought Pyramid Gallery, Abuja, showcased comics of top finalists who participated in last year’s edition of the Annual Spanish National Comic competition. Also on display were works by one of Nigeria’s cartoonists and artists, Ibrahim Ganiyu.

With an aim to show a compilation of the most outstanding works belonging to young cartoonists and illustrators who took part in the last ten Injuve Comic Awards, the exhibition tagged ‘The Comic 10’ expresses the importance and recognition of this artistic manifestation in Spain which has also received a dramatic increase.

The cartoons obviously expressed the youthfulness of the artists and their ability to participate in national issues through art as the Spanish Ambassador, Angel Losada Fernandez, rightly expressed. “We are no longer in the classical era and operate in the jet age where the youths should be given a chance to express themselves. With exhibiting comics and cartoons which is easily accessible to the young, we are able to attract them to be a part of society rather than the primitive, historic and regular forms of art we are used to,” he said.

Eva Barta, the cultural attaché of the Spanish Embassy, explained the concept behind the exhibition. “It is a cartoon illustration exhibition of works from an exhibition organised by the Spanish Institute for Youth, Injuve.

“Having exhibited in the same light last year, we decided to repeat it this year and we have one of the winners present, Gustav Rico.”

She also informed that, “We have seized the opportunity to have a workshop here in Abuja with students of public schools. They will be educated by Rico and Ganiyu on the basics of drawing a human figure as well as cartoons. This is not just having an exhibition for the sake of it, but mainly to show something that is not conventional. It is also to give Nigerians the opportunity to see what has been done in Spain in the area of cartoon.”

Gustav Rico who is visiting Nigeria for the first time and having his first trip outside Europe had this to say. “Exhibiting at the Thought Pyramid has shown me a different kind of art from what I am used to. As an exhibiting artist, my works have different themes depending on the purpose for which I created them. They are sometimes political and at other times purely entertainment purposed. Whatever the message, I see my works as art forms which make as much impression as any other art piece would.”

A guest and artist at the exhibition, Kola Alufe, considered the pieces remarkable. “When I heard about an art exhibition, I was expecting to see the regulars. But I must say I am not at all disappointed by what I see, because I find them remarkable. Here, I see the same depth and creativity that I put into my works. It would be good if such is encouraged in Nigeria and our cartoons and comics don’t start and end on the pages of newspapers.”

With themes cutting across humour, education, family, urban living, love in abstract and detailed pieces and narratives, the artists engaged guests and critics in interesting debates as they easily related with a lot of the concepts.

The exhibition which opened last Monday will be on for two weeks.

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