When Rihanna said ‘We find love in hopeless places’ it resonated with me because I’ve been there – I found love on Twitter once – but I also know that love exists in beauty and in hope. It is the later I found on the grounds of Nike Art Gallery
Situated at the entry way of Ikate Bus Stop, Elegushi, Nike Art Gallery stands tall in its white majestic grandeur. The building, intimidating yet mysteriously welcoming, offers promises of artistic splendor from its entryway.
I found myself positively overwhelmed by it all – about 8000 works adorned the walls of the multi story gallery from its ceilings to its falls and it was easy to be lost in the euphoria of creativity that surrounded me.
Oil and water color paintings as well as art in various medium – sculptured, metal work and a host of others- from various Nigerian artist like Ndidi Dike, Peju Alatise, Tola Wewe, Ayorinde Olotu, Kolade Oshinowo and a considerable number from the delectable Nike Davies-Okundaye herself who wasn’t there at the time of my arrival. I was willing to wait and I spent good time soaking in the splendor of the gallery while I did.
I particularly liked this art because of how it depicts, to me, Nigeria’s economy – National cake_ and the several detractors -ants – that are trying to crumble it and have their share without impacting any real growth to it
In the midst of the profoundness that is the gallery, I found my he(art) – Tolu Aliki
Tolu Aliki, a contemporary figurative artist, makes use of ail pastel and acrylic to create this insanely beautiful and colorful paintings. He drew me in with the vibrantness and the detailed drawing of social interactions between people.
One can’t talk about Nike Art without talking about the great mind behind this -Nike Davies-Okundaye.
When Nike finally arrived, adorned in typical signature fashion – elaborate headgear, an adornment of coral beads – she was armed welcoming smile and ambiance.
She, without request or fanfare, set out to educate us about the gallery’s origins and her history.
Born in 1951 in Nigeria, Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye is an internationally known and renowned female designers and artists. She was brought up amidst the traditional weaving and dying practice in her native village of Ogidi, Kogi State in Western Nigeria.
Her artistic skills were brought alive by her parents and great grandmother, who were musicians and craftspeople specializing in the area of cloth weaving, adire making, indigo dying and leather.
Nike spent the early part of her life in Oshogbo which is recognised as one of the major centres for art and culture in Nigeria. During her stay in Oshogbo, her informal training was dominated by indigo and adire. She is today a proud product of the famous Oshogbo Art School.
After gaining international cultural acclaim, Nike used her international success to launch a cultural revival in Nigeria. She is the founder and director of four art centers that offer free training to over 150 young artists in visual, musical and performing arts – one of which is the Nike Art Gallery and also doubles as the largest art gallery in West Africa. The centers also serves as a rich source of knowledge for traditional arts and culture to scholars and institutions.
From her first solo exhibition at the Goethe Institute, Lagos in 1968, Nike has grown to become one of the major names on the international art circuit. In 2013 Chief Nike’s painting with the famous adire symbols in the background was accepted by the world’s largest museum, The Smithsonian.
It was a delight to be in her presence and watch as she was presented with yet another award from a group who were present alongside the Kamdora team.
For somewhere that’s free to all and sundry, Nike Arts Gallery is my fave place to find beauty.