Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better..Andre Gide A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away…Antoine de Saint-Exupery In the artistic world, fine art and design are regularly pitted against each other. Debates on the relationship between art and design usually conflict between points that design is a category of art and is therefore not distinct from it, or else that design is essentially different from art.

Though these fields seem to be at odds with one another, they are in fact basically identical and rely on related ideas. However, it is important to note that while art and design are interchangeable agents of visual communication, they are not the same. Regardless of the distinction between them, together they convey two fundamental intellectual trends which harmonize the components of human intelligence. Art can be described as an expression of a person’s resolve to a society which may manifest as the individual’s perception of customs and traditions. There are numerous methods to explore the expressions manifested by artists. Design on the other hand, is not a self-expression. It is however tied to the society like art is, but it finds its origin in the need to solve problems posed by several people.

Due to the fact that the source of the problem is within the society, it is easy to understand the strategy and procedure for solving the problem. Therefore, design is more service-oriented than art and seeks to solve problems while artists rarely serve the larger community as art is born mostly from the passion to ask questions. It is to this end that art has the capability to play a larger role in the economy by collaborating with design. It can be inferred that design precedes art because it has its foundation in survival instead of expression. History reveals that early humans sought a safe place for personal safety before comfort. Studies show that there was a deliberate change of the wall surface in the earliest caves as paintings were sometimes used for adornment or territorial purposes.

Interior designer, Shashi Caan affirms: Designers specializing in interiors think about how people occupy and experience spaces, and how to arrange and use the objects that fill them in a way that enables us to recognize who we are as individuals, and how we relate to others, as well as creating the many other intangible qualities that make us successful through the success of our environment.

Ola Balogun’s works embrace a more aggressive palette and a dependence on colour to model form and convey meaning. This approach betrays his links with the famous Auchi colourist school and his affinities with Fauvism.
Uche Edochie is concerned with the role of the individual in the re-invention of his reality. Recently, Edochie’s themes have ranged from confrontational political satires to social commentary. They also investigate the inevitable destiny of human relationships.

Abass Kelani engages identity and the shared history of man and machines through diverse media including disused printing machine parts, and collages of magazine cut-outs. This collaboration between art and design seeks to emphasize the similarities between the two disciplines of expression whilst highlighting the individuality of each. By pairing art and design, we collectively demand for local creative products, and in so doing, contribute to an industrious Nigeria.

Oliver Enwonwu is Director of Omenka Gallery and President, Society of Nigerian Artists.

Omoladun Ogidan is the Deputy Editor, Omenka Magazine.

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