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The world through the eyes of 10 female Nigerian artists

Mr. Mohammad Khechen, a Nigerian-Lebanese, recently brought together ten female artists in Abuja, and the result was an exhibition tagged ‘Through Her Eyes’ at Moeshen…

Mr. Mohammad Khechen, a Nigerian-Lebanese, recently brought together ten female artists in Abuja, and the result was an exhibition tagged ‘Through Her Eyes’ at Moeshen Art Gallery. How did this happen, and why was it an all-female art show?

When Mr. Khechen, an art collector, realized that contemporary African art “remains widely unknown and sometimes overlooked despite its increasing value in Europe and North America,” he decided to introduce it to the Middle East. Then he realized that the African female artist struggles “because of family and societal obligations, hence the decision to bring ten together to “highlight their strength and tenacity”, thus seeing the world through their eyes.

When guests, art lovers, collectors, and dealers, entered the Moeshen Art Gallery at Life Camp from the seventh of November, what they saw was a wide variety of artworks.

Mr. Mohamad Khechen, curator

There was Ngozi Akande’s ‘There is Sense in Creativity’, a painting true to her style. She uses found objects and discarded textile fabrics, magazines jute, and newspapers to create textures in her paintings. In this one, a guitar and trumpet quickly resonate with the title.

Addis Okoli is an oil, acrylic and mixed-media artist whose palette ranges from brilliant colours to grey hues. But this time she left her comfort zone. What she brought to Moeshen included ‘Before Dusk’, depicting a bucket-carrying woman eager to get her chores done before nightfall.

“I produced all the grey pieces in good time. I wanted to prove mostly to myself that I can go beyond just my signature style and that I don’t have to be comfortable in my box but explore beyond it,” Okolo explained.

Known for her photography, printmaking and designs, Kemi Sewell, among other works, showcased ‘Jo Kin Jo’ and ‘You Can Hide Anything Behind a Smile’. She said working on the series has been a long process of developing the concept from a photo series in 2017 to print series in 2019. But once she had the concept thought out it was a smooth production process.

Amarachi Odimba tends to interrogate societal issues related to culture, identity, sexuality, relationships and education. Her paintings are mostly abstract and figurative. “The human form is a ready and versatile tool I employ to relate to certain experiences and societal issues,” she said. Her work ‘Keeping Up with Me’ is a typical example of this. It’s the painting of what looks like a human form in suit, yet with a head unlike that of a human being.

The artist Olarinde Ayanfeoluwa founded a movement coined Jagaism from the word jagajaga. An expressive visual artist, she majors in scribbling. “That I am one, born with flaws, an imperfect being. Scribble to me is a journey through that part,” she offered. Her ‘The Immortality of Ideas’ is a perfect example of her style, a colourful abstract work brought together by scribblings that turn into a fine piece of art.

Doofan Kwaghhool is inspired by irregular shapes, bright colours, and distorted forms. Yes, you got it! It’s usually a total work of abstraction. But interestingly, her art explores issues as diverse as road and air crashes to political rebels and injustices against women. With its touch of what looks like yellow fabric and even flowers, ‘Unexpected 3’ exhibited at Moeshen evokes a sense of a woman in dire stress.

Favouring Ankara, snail, and periwinkle shells, Maryam Maigida’s impressionism painting technique gives her room to play with vibrant colours. This makes her work, including ‘No Woman No Cry’ showing three women extremely long-necked women, look bold and confident. What informs her style? “the zeal to preserve the Nigerian/African traditional culture and heritage. Using Women as a subject,” she said.

Millicent Osumuo Onuegbu seeks to communicate life and human existence with deep affinity to women and children. ‘Another Day, Another Tale’ seems to portray the uncertainty of each day. In this work, a man and a woman have set out on what appears to be a journey with an unpredictable end. This is the world we live in, this artist is likely saying through this work.

“I first came across Linocut printmaking technique from my Alma Mata, Ahmadu bello University, Zaria, and I loved the monochrome and line effects it brought to my art piece,” Nneka Chima said about her style. Her work, ‘Persistence’, shows two people, almost totally covered by flowers, in a passionate kiss.

Usually with the use of pen and ink on paper, Talatu Onkala Adiwu focuses on fusion of unlikely materials on a surface with the purpose of achieving an amalgamation of different entities. She explained: “My works are always set towards achieving and showing beauty. Not physical beauty but a type othat resonates from within and stays with you after a long while.” Her artwork, ‘Lagos City’, is a cobwebby depiction typical of the hate and love relationship some Nigerians experience with the megacity.

‘Through Her Eyes’ is Moeshen Art Gallery’s first step at exhibiting only African female artists. It held from November 7 to 17.