By Chinelo Chikelu, Abuja
In La Experiencia, winner of the sixteenth edition of the Spanish Visual Arts Competition, Helen Nzete and previous winners of the competition, Olorunyemi Kolapo share their experience of Madrid, Spain.
Fans of the contest can attest that the Spanish Embassy’s sponsorship of the winning artist’s visit to the ARCO International Art Fair, in Madrid, is the main benefit of participating in the contest. This year, the winner not only got to visit ARCO, but was joined by a former competition finalist, on the monthly visit to the Spanish capital, which resulted in a first-ever post-Spanish virtual art exhibition – La Experiencia, which documents their experiences and the future is inspired.
Nzete and Kolapo are joined by Spanish multi-genre artist Ramon Trigo, who in addition to exhibiting his experience and perspective from Nigeria, had his African premiere of his six-year project, Pantoque.
A few events led to La Experiencia. First, there is the involvement of Trigo, who traveled to Nigeria last year, to facilitate an artistic workshop with Nigerian artists. Second, there is the role of the artist and curator, Susa Rodriguez-Garrido, whose Agama Art Publishing and Agency represents Kolapo, and has partially sponsored her solo European exhibition (including Spain) in collaboration with the ’embassy.
The works of Nzete and Kolapo are as different as night and day but just as interesting. While Nzete, a sculptor by training, takes a sculptural and conceptual approach, creating abstract pieces that read as a deconstruction of prominent sub/objects like Huella (a cartographic perspective of Madrid) and Jardin Vertical (an abstract presentation of the Vertical garden in Spain); Kolapo takes a literal approach to his works – using words and symbols that viewers can relate to, to draw them into the image. An illustration is the Bank of Spain coin, to which he adds a small inscription above that reads “I was at the Bank and I met Medusa”.
The two artists also share an interest in architecture, as shown in their depiction of the Metropolitan Building in Madrid. Kolapo declared the building his best architecture in town; while Nzete was drawn to the sculptural figures woven throughout the white and gold building. Once again, their presentation highlights their different perspective and processes in relation to art.
The Metropolitan of Nzete looks like a thread, made using black thread to sketch a skeletal frame of the building and its surroundings in a way that invites the viewer to cross the road and enter it; while Kolapo is a close-up oil painting of the sculptural delight that is the building’s dome.
By visualizing their experience of Spain, a dream come true, he inspired their future. Nzete in the creation of the piece Vertical Garden, worked with a new material, synthetic white dust; which she layers with colors, and rolls out the same colors to highlight the lighting and shades in the vertical garden.
“ARCO is an experience of a different culture and different people, with different opportunities and goals. I learned a lot from what I saw at ARCO. So by bringing them back, I hope I can have a impact with the things I learned. She has a solo exhibition scheduled for June 26, 2022.
Kolapo, on the other hand, was inspired to amplify the scientific aspects of his art so far. The blue painting of a tribal-marked African girl in a space uniform heralds the kind of Afrofuturistic works the artist will create in the next five years.
“The blue painting was inspired by a dream I had recently, and of bringing the dead back to life using DNA. When I first saw it in my dream, I made I researched online and found that the world was already working on this. In fact, scientists created a prototype of a dying or dead human being brought back to life. The only difference between the prototype and a real human being is The brain The prototypes have no brains but physically resemble a 100% human.
“Afrofuturism is about highlighting what will happen in Africa in the near future, the African way, with the existence and infusion of technology. I do not make art for commercial purposes but to drop pictures i’m considering. i’ve had this dream back to back now and want to put it aside. it’s like a prophetic message i have for the world, and i won’t stop until i ‘finishing the last canvas,’ said Kolapo.
The La Experiencia exhibition opened only on June 17 at the Thought Pyramid Gallery in Abuja and screened Pantoque, a documentary on the six-year project by Spanish artist Ramon Trigo, whose work also featured in the exposure.