Alatise’s Craft Meets Babaeko’s Lens At BoConcept


[dropcap custom_class=”normal”]BoConcept opens a special exhibition featuring artworks by Peju Alatise and Yetunde Babaeko’s photography which is tagged as “Art Meets Design“. The exhibition is aimed at establishing a connection between Nigerian arts and contemporary Scandinavian furniture, which comes with functional designs.[/dropcap]This article was published in

BoConcept is a global furniture brand that sets itself apart with sleek design and the functionality of its beautiful products. The show will display Danish furniture design set from the company, Peju Alatise artworks and Yetunde Babaeko’s photography.

“Sometimes, people come here and say, ‘I can’t see it how your furniture will work with my art.’ So, what we wanted to do with the exhibition is to create experience for people to see that you can mix the two. For instance, you can mix the Danish Scandinavian furniture with Ankara fabric that Peju Alatise is going to put up and the photography that Yetunde Babaeko has made. We want to mix the two so that people can see it and our showroom lent itself to that; it’s been set up as a living room. We want to show the connectivity between Nigerian art and Scandinavian furniture design,” said Charlotte Obidairo, BoConcept CEO.

In a chat with Peju Alatise ahead of the exhibition, the talented artist said, “BoConcept had this idea of bringing my art and their furniture together in an exhibition. They spoke to me about the idea and I decided I would go there, take a look at the place and see if indeed it’s something that can work. I went there, saw the style of furniture and set up of the place. It’s a very contemporary setup and what I do as an artist is quite contemporary. So, I felt we have a good synergy.”

On how Yetunde Babaeko came into the picture, Alatise, who will be presenting some of her contemporary pieces, explained that, “we involved Yetunde Babaeko as well; the style of work she does is something that works well with the space and the design philosophy. We decided to give it a try, so, this is our first trial. This particular art is the type that goes in for home, so, there’s a connection with the furniture,” she added.

Depths in Peju Alatise’s work suggest a suppression waiting to explode. Though she trained as an architect, Peju has built quite a reputation as a successful studio artist. In addition to being a painter, sculptor, mixed media artist and installation artist, she is also involved in jewelry designing, bead making, visual arts consultancy, creative writing, leather accessory designing, building finishes and interior designing. She has artistically morphed all these creative interests into an art expression that is visually engaging, unique and novel.

Alatise’s works provide fresh aesthetic encounters, which add to the diversity of modern Nigeria art. In their unique compositional phrasings, most of her works confidently navigate the shifting boundaries of the constantly evolving globalised art environment. The themes and formalism of her works reveal her responses to life’s experiences as well as the readiness to explore and experiment with diverse materials.

As an accomplished, she has published two fictional novels; of which her first novel was first runner up for Female Writer 2006, Flora Nwakpa Prize by Association of Nigerian Authors. She has won several awards for her art and writing, including a letter of commendation by the President of the federal Republic of Nigeria for a job well done in Obudu Cattle Ranch commissions in 2007. She is best recognised for her famous art installation at the New Radisson Blu hotel and GTBank Head office both in Victoria Island Lagos.

According to Yetunde Babaeko, exhibitions such as this provide a different perspective, as well as give opportunity for collaboration among artists.

“I was actually contacted through Peju; I think they wanted to do collaboration with Peju and they wanted her to recommend another artist who is strong enough. So, she introduced all of us together,” she said.

As for the theme Art Meets Design, she said, “I think it makes too much sense; we artists make art to be in people’s houses. So, if you look at the artwork in combination with the furniture, you can imagine better. There’s nothing wrong in having exhibitions in a hall, but this type of exhibition gives you a different perspective; you can now have the artwork in-between furniture and then you imagine it.”

At the exhibition, Babaeko will be showcasing works from her different exhibitions, including works from Itan and Eko Moves, which she staged last year.

“I think it’s very important for artists to collaborate more. For instance, my last exhibition Eko Moves was collaboration between SPAN and myself. I’m a team player; I love collaboration. It makes too much sense for artists to works together. Why keep to yourself, when you can work with others and go far further,” she said.

Though born in the serene town of Enugu, South Eastern Nigeria, it was in Germany that Yetunde Babaeko’s schooling began. After her Abitur (A levels), it clicked in her mind that photography is an undying passion. So, between the year 2000 and 2003, she did an apprenticeship programme, majoring in advertising photography at the prestigious Studio Be in Greven, Germany.

She returned to Nigeria finally in 2005 and continued the art of photography. Due to increasing workload and numbers of assignments, she decided to set up CAMARA Studio in 2007; a fully professional equipped photo studio located in Ikeja.

In the last few years, Yetunde has used the lens to bridge gender barriers. As an independent advertising and modeling photographer whose work has featured in several shows in Lagos, she is worried that women are being left out in the growing visual arts profession. Male dominance is not peculiar to the creative industry, so many agree, but the gender gap in the visual art section, Babaeko states, is wider compared to other professions.

Just recently, the seasoned photographer and CEO of CAMARA Studios staged a first of its kind cancer awareness photo exhibition geared to inspire the Nigerian public to join in the fight against cancer. Titled Battle Scar, the exhibition, which was staged at the Goethe Institute, Lagos, showcased photos taken by a group of independent professional female photographers and driven by a collective passionate vision “to make a lasting impact through the lens of the camera.”

“Of course, photography is always perceived as a male dominated industry; I just wanted to prove them wrong that there are a lot of female photographers. I’m getting tire that everywhere I go, people say, ‘you are the only one doing this…” which is not true; there are so many others, just that they might not be as loud as their male counterparts. So, I tried to bring them together to showcase their works,” she said.

Article by Chuks Nwanne


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