At the seminar in the National Institute of International Affairs on Kofo Abayomi Street, Victoria Island, I saw what got me thinking.
The topic was Art and Tourism, and the chief speaker was Donald Duke, former governor of Cross Rivers State. His speech was full of antidotes, but I hardly heard the word Art- life in the government house with Charles Taylor, and the great humour of Obasanjo, our ex-president.
The stories made for good laughs, but it seemed Art had no place in public life. Yet Duke gave this amazing story about the Sculptural ruins in Tunisia. Is it that the modern architecture we see around does not have a space for sculpture? Are there no roundabouts with enough space for Art? More and more, it seems that Art, in particular Sculpture, has no place in modern Life.
And to think that one of the greatest living masters of sculpture, EL Anatsui, had suggested to me that Painting, not Sculpture, is dead! The only fresh modern sculpture around are found in graveyards. The only time some of us think of sculpture is when we commission a bust of dead relative. Flowers seem more suitable for our modern landscapes.
When Duke discussed about Tourism and Art, he forget to tell us if Art has a role in our society. Maybe, its all about tourism. The nagging feeling is that the seminar celebrated the life of Nigeria’s pioneer sculpture, Professor Ben Enwonwu.
Awards were given to deserving students by the Ben Enwonwu Foundation, but they were not chosen based on their excelling in Sculpture. This again was appalling. They were chosen for excelling in Painting.
Great men like Tosh Tire, Sammy Olagbaju, Yemisi Shyllon, Mr Odimayo, Odi Mbanefo and Uche Okeke stood by; and were full of smiles all through the event. I saw it all, but I left sad, mourning the death of Sculpture on that great day