The exhibition of a unique selection of works from the art collection of Olaniwun Ajayi Legal Practioners (LP) and this accompanying book catalogue are both special and first in a series of events to celebrate the firm's 50th Anniversary. They are all the more significant because in Nigeria, corporate collections are rare and where available are almost never given such prominent exposures. With its primary interest on work by Nigerian artists active from the 1920s till present, Olaniwun Ajayi LP has assembled 63 works to reflect the firm's engagement with modern Nigerian art over the past 30 years. About half of this selection features in the exhibition, while all the works are documented here.
The first volume of documents principally paintings and sculpture in the Mfon Usoro collection. It brings together about 60 modern and contemporary artists across Nigeria in a multiplicity of styles that draw from ancient cultures and traditions, to dissolve ethic and language barriers.
This second volume of the expansive Mfon Usoro Art Collection focuses mostly on contemporary African arts and crafts. It must be seen as a valuable companion to the first, which engages fine arts from the African continent and consists of more rarefied art forms like paintings and sculptures, placed on an exalted platform as established by an old hierarchy.
The artworks in this catalogue are a token of a people’s spiritual profile. As the barometer of the mood of a people, the visual arts have the capacity to gauge the economic and socio-political temperature of their milieu. They offer us a peep into a slice of the collective sensibilities of a people at a given period in their life. As we immerse ourselves in the several universes that the artists have conjured in an assortment of media that range from oil to wood and photography, we are at once mesmerized and puzzled. We are challenged to become engaged in constructing meanings from the visual narratives that the artists offer. In the process, we also become contemplative.