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    Akintobi explores African art with fabrics in solo US exhibition



    A solo exhibition that reveals an end to the way US based Nigerian painter, Akintayo Akintobi approaches his art in the past is ongoing at South River Art Studio, 1300 Fleetwood Dr SE, Atlanta, GA, USA. The historic event which started on October 6, will end on November 3.

    The exhibition entitled “The End of The Beginning”, is a watershed for the artist who graduated with a degree in Fine Arts from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria. It is significant and a turning point in the artist’s career of over a decade of practice in the visual art space.

    The artist, who is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in Studio Art at East Tennessee State University, USA disclosed that he had been painting since he was seven years old, and about a decade ago, he turned professional.

    Sharing his journey of exploring African art, Akintobi said. “I explore African art using symbols, patterns, and fabrics particularly to Africans in my works through abstract and surrealistic lens. I combine these with lines, shapes and figures to tell stories or teach life lessons from an African perspective.”

    On the historical relevance of the theme to African-American people and Nigerians in particular, Akintobi noted: “The End of the Beginning” focuses primarily on human existence, adding “It features an assortment of paintings about the birth and death of people, the commencement and termination of things, friendships, relationships, jobs, and everything we experience in life.

    “It equally talks about man’s ability to design his life and determine the beginnings and end of his experiences.

    “African-Americans and Nigerians are a people with a long history of hardships and survivals. For them, anything that has a beginning has an end. They rode with this mantra against slave trade, and they won. Now, as racism, abuse, and discrimination are on the rise, these works are a reminder to all black people that they can win again. All they need do is determination to end it.”

    He also spoke on philosophical themes that drive his art. “Many philosophical themes drive my works but the ones that often spur me into creative pursuits are themes on family, identity, love, and perception. I love how families, friends, and communities intercept in people’s lives and it inspires me greatly. I love that you can describe a person as someone’s child, friend, partner, or a native of a place. It’s beautiful when you have relational strings attached to you, and it is painful when you have none; I paint for both circumstances.”

    The artist says he often wonders how people think. He notes that It is this curiosity that birthed his constant distortion of game pieces in some of his works. “It perfectly captures my awe, curiosity, and tireless research into the human mind,” he perceives.

    The exhibition, which is bringing the artist to a point of transition marking the end of one phase and the start of another, is created in five series. They are portrait, family, friendship, human-animal, and abstract series. He explains. “These series talk about the beginning of our lives as humans, the support we get from family, the love of friends, the loyalty of pets, and the end of our lives. And they were inspired by my observation of human life and relationships. I think it’s beautiful how humans relate with one another, animals, and the environment.”

    When asked about the exhibition he had participated in, either as group, joint and solo, he replied: “I have participated in some exhibitions in the United States of America and Nigeria. I was part of ‘Con-figuration’ at William King Museum, Abingdon, Virginia, and ‘Holla If You See Me’ at The Kansas African American Museum, Kansas City in 2023. In 2022, I was at ‘The Black Gaze’ at Tipton Gallery, Johnson City, TN and ‘Striped Down’ at Vestige Concept Gallery, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and ‘60 Years of Artists’ Days’ at Oduduwa Hall basement, Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, Nigeria in 2021.”

    He revealed that all the art pieces on parade on this exhibition promote African culture, especially the Yoruba culture. “As is my habit in most of my works, I input patterns of the Adire Eleko fabric (a fabric associated with the Yoruba people of Abeokuta, Ogun State). I also added some motif from the Ife people’s Onaism’.

    “Most of them have weighty cultural meanings and added sentimental value to the paintings. By their mere presence connotative positioning, I hope people can see beauty of Yoruba and Africans at large.”

    Highlighting the decade journey as a visual artist and how it influences his art, Akintobi shared two of such influences. “The first highlight for me is my improved understanding of art. I have come to know art as something beyond hobby, a job or a mere combination of colours. I now know art as an outlet of deep expression, as a book of history, and as a place for mystery and secrets.

    “The second one is that the concept, meaning, and appeal of my works resonate with people from various part of the world. I’ m glad I can use art as a universal language. These, and the entirety of my career as a visual artist have made me a deeper thinker. I no longer look at the things as they ordinarily appear. I now question positioning, usage, meaning, and the existence or non-existence of things. Art, mine and others, have changed me beautifully.”

    At the end of this exhibition which will unveil 14 colourful artworks borne out of deep thinking, Akintobi hopes that they achieve the same effect on everyone who attends. “I also hope that these works with their Nigerian motif and symbols reveal the beauty of Nigeria to the world. The narrative about Nigeria is unpleasant and bothersome and I hope to change it one painting at a time,” he enthused, even as he added. “This belief stems from the fact that after studying these works during my preparations, I thought more consciously and deeply about them.”

    On the curator, he said. “The exhibition is curated by South River Art Studios. It is an art gallery and studio in Atlanta. I met the studio/gallery management while working on a floor mural with an artist friend. They saw my work, loved it, and offered me the opportunity of an exhibition.

    “The works that particularly pulled them into my craft are those with game pieces; they expressed their admiration for my use of game pieces to express human situations and emotions. Now, we are here.”

    Asked for the new materials on board the exhibition’s works he stated that. “Before now, I used acrylic for most of my works. Now, I introduced satin paint to the materials used for creating these works. I used it alone or combined it with acrylic paint for some works. I also added locally-woven mats to my materials. To perfectly execute one of my visions, I used local mat for an abstract painting.”

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    Traditional Ruler Extols Cultural Fiesta In London



    Traditional Ruler Extols Cultural Fiesta In London

    The Chancellor, Federal Universi­ty, Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State and Chairman, Imo State Council of Elders, Eze Cletus Ilomuanya, has urged all sons and daughters of Igboland living abroad to remain steadfast in supporting develop­ment at home.

    He also urged them to uphold the culture of the Igbo.

    Eze Ilomuanya, who is the Obi of Obinugwu in Imo State, made the call at the 9th Igbo Festival of Arts and Culture, which was held at Enfield, London on July 14.

    The 2024 edition of the festival attracted a large number of par­ticipants and guests, among them many non-Igbo and foreigners.

    The Igbo Festival of Arts and Culture is an independent cultur­al exposition that is held in Lon­don every year.

    Eze Ilomuanya, was elated at the tireless effort which the or­ganisers of the event led by Mazi Obi Okoli, put into “Elevate Igbo culture to international promi­nence”.

    He commended the festival which he said had been “helping in no small measure” to encour­age the younger generation to em­brace the values and tradition of the Igbo.

    The traditional ruler advocated for more “unity and understand­ing among our people”, assuring the Igbo abroad that the incidents of insecurity at home, which arose not too long ago is being combated, to ensure that Igbo people abroad are not hindered from periodically bringing back their families and children, es­pecially at festive periods, in an atmosphere of peace and security.

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    Lagos woos more for tourism, culture



    Lagos woos more for tourism, culture

    Once again, Lagos is extending its excellence in commerce to tourism and culture with a nine-day festival expected to woo thousands of locals and visitors alike to the city later in the year.

    The state, through its Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture, is collaborating with the QDance Center to host Afropolis Lagos 2024.

    The maiden edition of the nine-day festival will take place from October 26 to November 3, 2024 at the J.K Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History, Onikan, and its environ.

    Speaking on the import of the festival at a recent Town Hall Meeting, Toke Benson-Awoyinka, Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts, and Culture, said that the event, which seeks to celebrate creativity and innovation, is aimed at transforming Lagos into a vibrant hub of artistic and technological excellence.

    “The essence of Afropolis lies in its ability to bring together a diverse array of creative minds. Imagine the vibrant fusion of traditional and modern expressions that will be on display, from indigenous crafts to cutting-edge digital art.

    “This melting pot of ideas and talents promises to be an unforgettable experience for both participants and attendees,” the commissioner said.

    Explaining the choice of J.K Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History as the venue for the festival, she highlighted the historical significance of Onikan, which has long been a cultural hub, and hosting Afropolis here would be a fitting tribute to its legacy.

    “The J.Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History, in particular, stands as a beacon of our rich heritage and offers the perfect backdrop for this celebration,” she said.

    The essence of Afropolis festival, according to the commissioner, lies in its ability to bring together a diverse array of creative minds.

    “Imagine the vibrant fusion of traditional and modern expressions that will be on display, from indigenous crafts to cutting-edge digital art. This melting pot of ideas and talents promises to be an unforgettable experience for both participants and attendees,” she assured.

    On his part, Qudus Onikeku, head of the QDance Center, explained that Afropolis would showcase the whole gamut of creativity as well as transform Onikan’s main street and JK Randle Road, into a lively arts and tech assemblage.

    Highlighting programmes of the nine-day event, Onikeku said Afropolis would feature among other things, pop up fashion stores, arts and craft market, live performances, street arts, street food, street vendors, music concerts, DJsets, master classes, meetings and networking.

    “The rest are talks and round tables, gaming, innovation, exhibition, children playground and urban culture display,” he said.

    According to him, Afropolis will also see a range of smaller break-outs as well as highly interactive sessions and master classes focused on topics across creative sectors.

    “It is projected that Afropolis will attract more than 1,000 creatives and exhibitors from Arica and the diaspora.

    “We also expect more than 20,000 visitors, buyers and delegates from Africa, the diaspora and the rest of the world.

    “It provides a platform for young talents to showcase their ideas, and stimulate economic growth for local vendors, artisans and global African creatives to showcase their product or services.

    “It will position Lagos as a hub for technology, creativity and innovation by leveraging the festival to showcase African advancements in art, tech, gaming, design, fashion and other creative fields,” Onikeku said.

    The nine-day festival will culminate in a curated marketplace over the weekend, where participants will showcase their local and international innovations and works.

    From a partner’s perspective, Blessing Azubike, senior programmes manager, CC Hub, one of the partners in the festival, expressed excitement being on the project, saying that her outfit is passionate about anything co-creation, which is what it is on board to do.

    “We will be serving on the technology component of the gathering,” she noted.

    Ajibade Adewale, group head, partnerships, Wema Bank, assured revellers of safety with their finances in the course of business transactions during Afropolis carnival.

    “We will ensure your transaction is taken care of digitally, we are also there to guarantee that your money is safe with CC Hub because we are partnering with them as well,” Adewale said.

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    China, Nigeria Commit to Promotion of Tourism, Cultural Exchange



    China, Nigeria Commit to Promotion of Tourism, Cultural Exchange

    The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Abuja has reiterated its commitment to promote tourism and cultural exchange with Nigeria within the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in order to enhance the two countries’ bilateral relations.

    The Embassy made the pledge at the weekend during a Seminar on “Promoting Culture and Tourism Exchange in BRI Cooperation”, jointly hosted by the Chinese Embassy, China Alumni Association of Nigeria and University of Abuja.

    Cultural Counselor of the Chinese Embassy, Mr. Li Xuda said that the embassy has always regarded promoting people-to-people ties between China and Nigeria highly because cultural and tourism exchange plays a special and important role in societal progress and national development.

    Li also added that the joint construction of BRI takes “Five Cooperation Priorities” as the main content: Policy Coordination, Facilities Connectivity, Unimpeded Trade, Financial Integration and People-to-People Bond.

    He said: “The people-to-people bond, one of the five cooperation priorities of the BRI, goes beyond culture and tourism exchange and seeks to build common understanding out of respect for countries and regions in its big family.

    “Both China and Nigeria are cultural giants with fabulous ancient civilization and rich tourism resources.
    “Since six years ago, China and Nigeria became close partners in jointly building BRI, which made our bilateral exchange even more in-depth and practical.

    “I firmly believe that our culture and tourism will be further promoted in the new stage of high-quality joint construction of BRI and some of our cultural gaps and exchange barriers will be bridged.”

    On his part, the Executive Secretary/CEO , National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Otunba Biodun Ajiboye, expressed gratitude to the Chinese government for their continuous support in developing Nigeria’s culture and tourism sector.

    He noted that Nigeria has a large wealth of natural and cultural attractions ranging from stunning landscapes of its national parks to the historic landmarks and vibrant cities that tell the story of the nation.

    He said: “We must therefore leverage the BRI to enhance our tourism infrastructure, promote sustainable tourism practices, and create unique cultural experiences for visitors.

    “By doing so, we can attract more tourists, generate revenue, and create jobs while preserving and celebrating our cultural heritage.

    “We will work closely with our Chinese counterparts to develop joint projects, exchange programmes and collaborative initiatives that have mutual benefits for both countries.”

    The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 to invest in more than 150 countries and international organisations.

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