Emphatic Nigerian artist, Abe Odedina whose eye-catching paintings speak through a highly legible allegorical vernacular has described the growing attention now being paid to African arts as long overdue.
Odedina who revealed this on Tuesday, days after the his exhibition at the 2019 edition of the annual ART X Lagos, also added that the welcome development will go a long way to redressing cultural imbalance.
He said; “The increasing attention paid to work of “African artists” by international art institutions and collectors is welcome and long overdue and clearly redresses a cultural imbalance.
“But while for example it is factually correct to call me an African artist, it may not be a particularly informative definition given the size and cultural diversity on the continent, I would no more call myself an African artist than I would say I am going to Africa when flying to Lagos.”
The artist, who together with The Underground Museum, Los Angeles was awarded the 2017 Ellsworth Kelly Award from the Foundation of Contemporary Arts, New York, said his worry is that people who see the continent as a monolithic cultural unit, tends to favour particular narratives.
“My concern is that the sort of generalisation that tends to see the continent as a monolithic cultural unit, tends to favour particular narratives centered around the colonial experience and relentless oppression as the point of departure for the “African experience” and tends to ignore the rich and diverse lives of Africans from the beginning of time to the present day.
“It is important that when the honeymoon period is over, that across the length and breadth of the continent we will have laid the foundations for the creation of important new art institutions, supporting a flourishing art scene, complete with artists, galleries, collectors taking their rightful place as equal players in the global art market,” Odedina who has lived in London for over 30-years added.
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