But soon when it appeared he had arrived, Onifade took a detour and went for a residency at the Greatmore Art Studio, Cape Town, South Africa, where he produced several works through the technique and also held international workshops. On his return home, he could no longer hide the fact that he has a unique art. This was followed with an exhibition entitled Whisper Araism at Omenka Gallery (late Ben Enwonwu’s gallery), Lagos. Of-course, while he was in South Africa , Onifade said he was able to redevelop the Araism technique, which he had publicly launched with a solo exhibition at the Goethe-Institut, Lagos from May 5 to May 13, 1998.
It’s celebration time as Onifade’s Araism clocks 10
When painter, Mufu Onifade, first launched his unique Araism art movement in 2006, the visual art community was not sure what to make of this man of many parts. AGOZINO AGOZINO recently met with the former Chairman, National Association of Nigerian Theatre Art Practitioners, Lagos Sate Chapter, as he gets set to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the movement in a group show
It was the strong desire to stand out from the regular painting crowd that launched Mufu Onifade’s art in 1998. The Oyo State-born painter had the conviction that he could do something unique with his form of art, rather than repeating what others do and he believed he was on the right course.
“Before the launching, there was confusion, some believed Araismis a style, but, I have always said it is a technique’’, Onifade said, adding that he needed to clarify this so that people can differentiate between what he invented and the style of the art itself. Again, Onifade said, “ What those who follow the movement do today is style, but what I invented is a technique”.
Indeed, Araism has added to his fiery disposition, especially, for those who know him as a reputable art critic, painter and man of diverse talent. Araisim is adopted from the Yoruba word Ara or wonder where he frequently, superimposes his figurative images on a crack-led surface as a euphemism for fragmented vision. The texture of his paintings resembles cracked mud beds, which are developed from the familiar batik effect achieved with dye in Yoruba Adire textiles. The art is fully focused on interpreting social concerns, cultural environments and personal experiences. It is Onifade’s binoculars of seeing the world through a philosophical mind.
Ever since then, the 50-year-old Onifade and a growing clan of younger artists, who had passed through his studio, had staged regular group shows based on Araism themes. The exhibitions include 10 in Lagos, three in Abuja and one in Florida, United States of America. Well, the rest is history. As Onifade and his group plan for the 15th edition of his regular show which coincides with 10th anniversary of the Araism movement, the painter says his art has echoed through Nigerian art, contributing to artistic development of some of the younger generation in the process. The artist reasons that with interest his studio approach have generated, it became necessary to spread the gospel of Araisimmore and continue to stretch its bounds and relevance technically and intellectually.
The anniversary group exhibition, which opens at Nike Gallery, Lagos, by Oba Elegushi Road on Saturday September 10, hasAraism 15 as the theme and it begins by 4pm.
About 13 artists are participating this time with veteran sculptor, Fidelis Odogwu and Ebong Ekwere being new entrants into theAraism movement. About 60 works, according to Onifade, would be on display. “What we are celebrating is the substance of the movement”, adding “Mufu Onifade is an artist because everything I do is art”. He said the show will be a visual feast and the best ofAraisim.
On what is special about the anniversary exhibition, the painter said, “It is the uniqueness of the art itself that makes it different from others, because we do not paint what others do, I created this as a result of years of experimenting with art, Araism is a painting technique that is unique”.
Born on October 5, 1966, Onifade, who had his early education in Lagos, started his art study in the Polytechnic, Ibadan, Oyo State, where, in 1998, he obtained his National Diploma in General Arts, winning the Best Student Prize. He later obtained B.A (Hons) in Fine Arts from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, with overall best result in his set and, subsequently, his M.A. in Art History.
His art practice records include training in painting-on-hide under the famed Ethiopian artist, Lemma Guya at the African Art Museum and Training Institute, Debre-Zeit, Ethiopia. He had taken part in many joint shows and participated in over 50 group exhibitions, including the first African Regional Summit and Exhibition on Visiual Arts (ARESUVA) 2008 and International Art, Las Vegas 2008. His works have been shown in Ethiopia, Australia, United Kingdom, Belgium, United States of America and South Africa.
Onifade, who is also a published playwright, actor, and newspaper columnist, was one of the 16 artists selected from seven countries to feature in the London Art Board- sponsored international exhibition entitled 16 Pieces, packaged by the Ifa Yoruba Contemporary Art Trust (IYCAT), London in 2000 and 2002.
In 2006, he founded the Araism movement as a platform to present young artists who have had links with his studio to the public on a yearly basis. He is a member of many professional organisations including the Society for Nigerian Artists (SNA), National Society of Painters, Sculptors and Printmakers, UK, Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA) Universal Studio of Art and National Association of Nigerian Theatre Art Practitioners (NANTAP). Araism 15 ends in two week time.
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