Last Updated On October 19, 2020.
Genesis Art Gallery is situated at No 2, Bolarinwa Street, Off Iyana Camp Area, Ote Efun, Osogbo, Osun state, Nigeria and it is every bit of marvelous!
“It takes months, sometimes a year or more. My friend, this is not the kind of craft that is rushed. That’s wood carving for you.”
I stared with rapt attention as the young tour guide described this craft, and one thing remained astonishing to me, the vivid details and clearcut precision.
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Over the years, I’ve become more and more acquainted with arts and craft so again in March of 2019, I had the pleasure of visiting the Genesis Art Gallery HQ in Osogbo.
What’s funny is I almost missed my trip to this virtuous art center, I was groggy and sleepy when I snapped up in hurry to the place on a very hot afternoon. But hey, that’s a story for another day.
Like I’ve said, Genesis Art Gallery is the second largest art gallery in South-Western Nigeria just after Nike Art Gallery (with over 7,000 pieces in art collection) in Lagos.
Getting to Genesis Art Gallery
I took a korope bus from Old Garage to Ote Efun and I remember, my friend, Israel told me to alight opposite a fuel station and blue mosque (sorry, that’s the best description I got).
At Ote Efun, I first met with Israel before heading to the glorious art space under the scorching sun!
On our arrival, Genesis Art Gallery was in an ambient state. We were lucky to be there at the time because it wasn’t a “peak period” for visitors, and erm… entry is absolutely free.
We headed straight to the workshop in the back where the gallery founder, Mr Adeyinka Fabayo was carving wood at the time.
Visitors aren’t allowed at the workshop so we had to be redirected. I think he was chiselling out timber with some other stuff.
One thing that strikingly amazed me is the building’s façade, the wall tiles have unique patterns and figures.
According to our tour guide, clay is used to form a strong cast and then, mortar is poured into this cast. After drying, the now hardened mortar is separated from the cast, laid out and painted with any desired colour.
The whole process of production takes considerable time.
Inside Genesis Art Gallery
After retracing our steps from the workshop to the art gallery building, my friend and I were astounded by legion of wood carvings on the ground floor of the three-floor complex. Whoa!
Genesis Art Gallery exhibits works of art ranging from pencil sketches, batiks, metal works, paintings with mixed media etc.
What I loved about this art space were the beautifully presented art pieces. There was good organisation everywhere we looked.
Wood carvings (I’ll discuss how it’s made soon enough) caught my eye and each craft made me throw a ton of questions to the tour guide.
Another thing that got my attention is a painting technique known as the colour separation technique. Also, outlines are designed on a computer software and printed on canvas.
The job of the artist is to paint, and paintings are mostly monochromatic.
Again, stylistically crafted furniture such as dining sets and chairs are on display in the gallery. Though polished, they are made from cut-out timber. and chairs were displayed in the gallery.
“We are committed to the resuscitation and rejuvenation of the pristine Osogbo art culture which lured the spirit of Ulli Bier and late Susanne Wenger and others to the town and state. We are propelled by that inner conviction that what led to the Mbari – Mbayo Club is still here only crying for proper direction and packaging” – Mr Adeyinka Fabayo
I’ve been gushing about wood carvings in the art gallery. But let me say once more, they are amazing!
Commissioning Genesis Art Gallery
This spectacle of an art gallery was formally commissioned by Ikubabayeye, Oba Dr. Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi, Alaafin of Oyo under the Chairmanship of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Executive Governor of Osun state at the time and other esteemed figures.
It opened to the public on April 7, 2018.
The story behind wood carving
I won’t be treating this like a “wikipedia writeup” as I may have done on other articles.
Let me make this clear as I’ve been told, wood carving is a time consuming endeavor which requires patience for even the simplest pieces.
Now, the main gist…
The first thing the artist does is to acquire wood for his craft.
Wood in basic sense is categorised into hardwood and softwood.
Hardwood used for wood carving by artists are ebony, mahogany, iroko etc. while a wood traditionally called “omo” is a very common softwood in Nigeria.
Speaking with the tour guide, he said that while softwood is pretty much easy to sculpt, beginners are usually advised to start training with hardwood.
Professionals make use of both kinds of wood very well but kicking off with hardwood enables you master wood carving even better!
After acquiring timber, the artist makes a sketch on the wood trunk. Then, carving starts with a set of chisels and other important tools.
Did you know? Softwood can literally be carved with your fingernails!
When carving is concluded, the piece is “sand papered” to smoothen rough edges and faces.
Polishing happens straightaway but this isn’t always the case for every wood carving.
If the artist doesn’t want the craft polished, then it’s left rough (as the pieces in Afolabi Art Gallery).
To polish, leather shoe polish is applied until the piece has that final shiny sparkle. Natural, neutral, brown and black polish are used (think about your regular Kiwi. I know, shocking right?).
Different kinds of finishes (paint, glass, metal etc.) are then used on the wood carving depending on what an artist is trying to achieve.
This craft is used to decorate interior and exterior spaces including offices, institutions, gardens and private homes.
And as we speak, Genesis Art Gallery is popularized as an international brand known for indigenous wood carvings.
THE FOUNDER, GENESIS ART GALLERY
Mr Adeyinka Fabayo took a giant leap for Nigerian indigenous art by displaying works of eight Nigerian artists in his gallery, and because of this resilience, Genesis Art Gallery has had exhibitions in places all around the world including United Kingdom, Brazil, Ghana, Germany and Equatorial Guniea.
“We have set our hands on the plough of reactivation of the cultural aura of Osogbo, we are going to institute a chain of cultural-tourism activities planted on the fundamentals of the various forms of arts works and perception . Those authentic, natural, inspirational and grassroots arts which once made Osogbo the second tourists destination in Nigeria” – Mr Adeyinka Fabayo
His gallery – The Genesis Art Gallery is a hub of paintings, wood carvings, aluminium repousse, metal sculpture, print making and furniture.
Today, it is recognized as one of the major tourist destinations in Osogbo, Osun state, a town rich in artistic history and culture.
A Brief History of Genesis Art Gallery
Genesis Art Gallery started in 1990 in Ila Orangun as a craft shop and later relocated to Osogbo, capital city of Osun state.
This Headquarters is built out of love and passion for African arts, culture and people. And its official opening included exhibition of works by upcoming and master artists in the art society: Yinka Fabayo, Rabiu Adeleke, P.L. Olanipekun, Dotun Popoola, Taiwo Adeyeye, Prince Iyiola Kazeem (Elemona) and Olarewaju Realwan.
…culled from Adeyinka Fabayo’s Introducing Genesis Art Gallery.
You can see how Genesis Art Gallery began here.
Over the years, Genesis Art Gallery has enjoyed an influx of tourists who admire African Arts. If you ever find yourself in the “land of virtue” make sure you have a piece of the second largest art gallery in South West, Nigeria!
What do you think is most exciting about Genesis Art Gallery? Kindly share in the comments.
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