The international leg of the art exhibition sponsored by Nigerian Breweries Plc, in collaboration with the African Artists’ Foundation (AAF), in Amsterdam recently, has been adjudged a huge success.
According to Mr. Tom de Man, Regional President, Heineken Africa and Middle East, who presided over the event, bringing the exhibition to Amsterdam offered a platform for Nigerian artists to access international foray.
"Simultaneously, it stimulates international awareness on arts, culture potential and capabilities of the Nigerian nation.
"We will build on this success to expand the exhibition programme to countries in West and Central Africa, he said."
Commenting on this development, Mr. Michiel Herkemij, Managing Director/Chief Executive, Nigerian Breweries, said it was the realisation of the role of arts and culture in integrating people, forging a common identity and providing income for artists that the company decided to expand its corporate social responsibility to include arts and culture.
"Society’s cherished tradition and history are captured in creative concepts in the arts and culture and in so many ways contribute to defining the present as well as the future of the people," he said.
Similarly, in his remarks at the occasion, Mr. Azu Nwagbogu, Chairman, AAF, said Amsterdam was a logical choice as venue for the exhibition outside Nigeria because of the city’s famous galleries. Nwagbogu expressed delight that the exhibition has helped to create the much-needed exposure for the artists, many of whom he noted, had not had the opportunity of showcasing their talents to an international audience before.
"Some of these works have previously been on display in Lagos and Abuja where they were applauded by the diverse artistic, diplomatic, corporate and general communities.
"They are now here in Europe. This is a wonderful opportunity for the artists to gain new fans and to grow roots in Europe, a just reward for their hard work and creativity, he said."
He expressed gratitude to NB and Heineken for their efforts in corporate social responsibility, noting that the benefits and impacts of the programme have begun to manifest.
Mr. Rob Perree, an official of the Gallery 23 venue of the event, who described the artists as highly gifted in their individual capacities, captured his feelings thus:
"The Unbreakable Nigerian Spirit, is, as the title says, an exhibition that expresses a remarkable optimism. I am not entirely sure where this stems from. The changed political system and social conditions will likely be part of the causes.
"However, the works selected indicate the possibility of a different cause. It seems that the optimism is nurtured on the one hand by a long and rich tradition and on the other hand, knows itself to be supported by an eye open to present-day developments. Nigerian art is of today, without ignoring the past."
The artists from Nigeria, who had the opportunity of showcasing their talents in an international arena, had emerged after a very colourful ceremony held in Lagos earlier in February, this year.
The 10 winning artists are Dimeji Alabi, Gerald Chukwuma, Segun Aiyesan, Yomi Momoh and Tola Wewe. Others are Gbolahan Ayoola, Emmanuel Dudu, Adolphus Opara, Emeke Obanor and Emeka Ogboh.