By Godwin Okondo
Recently, the Nike Arts Gallery, Lekki, Lagos attracted a host of art enthusiasts and aficionados who came for the grand finale of the Best Art Exhibition. It was organised by Nigerbev Limited, in collaboration with Nike Art Gallery and the aim was to showcase the works of upcoming artists who had participated in the art campaign.
The exhibited artworks, no doubts, revealed how talented and creative, the younger generation of Nigerian artists are.
Throughout the month of August named ‘BEST Art Month,’ the organisers launched an open call for entries online, requesting artists to post their works on the social media with the hashtag ‘BEST.’
As a result, the jury received 1442 submissions and out of this 111 were drawn from Facebook while 1331 were selected from Instagram. The works were assessed on their conformity with the criteria, which include form and content, originality, creativity, use of material (media) as well as resonance with the brand’s association with the subject matter of celebration.
The company anticipated only 50 entries when the art campaign was initiated but that month, over a thousand entries were submitted. The BEST Art Campaign is a part of the company’s corporate social responsibility.
Chaired by the renowned textile artist and painter, Chief (Mrs) Nike Okundaye, the panel of judges includes, Dr. Bolaji Ogunwo, Mr Abiodun Badejo, and Mr Felix Aina.
Initially, 147 works were selected through a very rigorous exercise. This was further pruned to 80 works and then a long list of 20 emerged. Ten artists were selected for the finals.
Mrs. Ololade Olumuyiwa-Biala, Head of Marketing at Nigerbev Nig. Ltd. told The Guardian, “we believe in self-expression and the ability of matured minds to come together and have fun. The art campaign idea came as a result of the upheaval being experienced in the country from COVID-19 lockdown to businesses shutting down, which created a cloud of gloom. The company decided to do something that would endear the people and bring life.
“We wanted to promote the best of Nigerian arts by using our brands of beverages as the rallying point. True to the saying, art is life; we discovered a lot of potential in Nigerian arts. We are doing this, not just as social responsibility but also, as a way of connecting with young Nigerians, who incidentally, are our target audience.”
According to the lady, “we started by announcing the competition on social media and we received more than 147 entries with very impressive works of arts. We put together a panel of judges, which went through the works and shortlisted 10 finalists that brought us to where we are today.”x
“Arts, especially in the context of Nigeria, is always a medium of communication and expression. While always aesthetically pleasing, attention eliciting, something found to be a denominator for many artists and creatives is social consciousness and how that translates very often in the creation of thought-provoking pieces, which will elicit a range of emotions among the collectors and art audiences. You’ll see from the pieces on display… depiction of emotions lived realities showing resilience, survival, and expressions of social consciousness. Particularly, in 2020, which has been a very challenging year for the world, expression through arts is one of the ways the creative community is able to communicate and document for posterity, the survival mode we all went into automatically,” the Nigerbev boss said.
Dele Akinlade, Sales and Marketing Manager for the company, said, “arts and marketing buy into our emotion so it was normal to bring the two together. This, in turn, promotes tourism and contributes to the development of the arts. What happens here today as shown to many that the Nigerian arts sector is very vibrant and creative. This is because it is filled with the very young and energetic segment of the Nigerian population and they are our target audience.”
Adewale Ojo, whose piece, Celebration, took the first position, got N500,000 for his effort. His work captures two ladies having fun in rainbow colours as a celebration of life using acrylic on canvas.
According to Ojo, he wanted to do something that will portray the brand as a beverage of the first choice.x
While urging the organisers to continue with the project, as it will encourage Nigerian artists to work harder, he said, “this is a tremendous encouragement to the young generation of Nigerian artists.’’
Omoniyi Gabriel, who placed second with a painting titled, Pure Bliss. The work is a visual play on shades and rendered in acrylic on paper
Beaming with smiles, he said the competition is a huge inspiration and encouragement to Nigerian artists.
On the inspiration behind the work, Gabriel said, “I wanted to depict excitement, joy, or happiness.”
Gabriel received N250,000.x
Miss Oyinye Ezemia, popularly known as Miss Zemia, in the Nigerian arts sector, came to the third position with a cash prize of N100,000. Her artwork was titled, Suffering and Smiling.
Onyinye, an experimental artist, in the piece, made use of nails and colorful threads. The socially conscious artist, whose works often focus on contemporary issues revolving around women and children, requested that organisers come up with similar projects in the future.
“If we have many companies supporting arts, the arts community will continue to grow and grow. Young artists will be positively engaged and busy. The reason why we have so much juvenile delinquency is that young people are idle. If more and more corporate entities organise meaningful programs such as this, young Nigerians will be too positively engaged and too busy to be lured into crimes and other social vices.so I want to urge them to continue,” Okundaye said.