Nigeria’s debut at the most important art exhibition in the world – La Biennale di Venezia

by Oluwatobi Balogun

May 16, 2017 | 11:14 am
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Nigeria debuted for the first time on Wednesday, May 10th at the 57th Venice Arte Biennale. The Nigerian pavilion and exhibition titled ‘How About Now?’ was commissioned by the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki. The Biennale is widely regarded as the visual Olympics of the art world and is a culturally powerful event for participating countries. The artists selected to represent Nigeria; Victor Ehikhamenor, Peju Alatise & Qudus Onikeku –  presented a multidimensional story and meditation on time via sculpture, performance, and painting. As a strong nation with deep historical relevance, rich culture, and diverse talents, Nigeria’s entry into the Venice Biennale is a great platform to narrate our past, present, and future.


Victor Ehikhamenor presents A Biography of the Forgotten, an installation of painting, mirrors, and bronze heads, after the plundered Benin Bronzes, as an “homage to my forebears and their contributions to the art world, from the classicists to the modernists.” He retells the story of art pioneers in Nigeria, in his story he enjoin us from Now to keep remembering. What endeared me the most is how Victor retells the artistic history of the Benin bronze casters

Peju Alatise showcased her beautiful sculpture Flying Girls, based on a story of a ten-year-old housemaid who dreams of flying away, protecting a hopeful future for Nigeria’s women and girls, the sculpture represents that girls have wings to fly it also portrays the woes some young Nigerian girls face in their daily lives as scared Chibok girl or a house maid working in a big city with no affection.

Qudus Onikeku, the thrilled the audience with a live performance as well as a trilogy of films infused with Yoruba spirituality. His performance carefully outlined the significance of self, divine, commune and of altering, carefully outlined the significance of the self, of altering, of the commune, and of the divine, in its imagination of the role of aesthetics, beauty, and art. He said

 “My role as a dancer is to look for ways to not only go through my journey but to also trigger the body memory of my audience. As a colonised people, we have lost track of many things”. 

The Nigerian exhibition and Pavilion is curated by gallerist, Adenrele Sonariwo. The associate curator is the critically acclaimed writer, Emmanuel Iduma. The exhibition has so far received positive critical reviews from global art journals and magazines. It has been listed in four must-see Pavilion reviews, no small feat seeing as this is Nigeria’s first time showing at the global event. Nigeria’s pavilion ties in with the Biennale Arte 2017 theme, Viva Arte Viva, (Long Live the Artist) by creating an immersive experience delivered not only in painting, and sculpture and installation but in performance by a group of artists who are unarguably frontrunners in their own fields


At the opening were art enthusiasts, collectors, corporate citizens and captains of industry from Nigeria. The exhibition is open until November 26th, 2017.

Follow the journey on Instagram @nigeriainvenice

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by Oluwatobi Balogun

May 16, 2017 | 11:14 am
  |     |     |   Start Conversation

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