UK /ˈrev.ər.i/ US /ˈrev.ɚ.i/
(a state of having) pleasant dream-like thoughts
On the ninth of April 2023, DADA art gallery opened its doors to the general public with ‘Reverie’ – an exhibition purposed to explore reality from an idealized standpoint. The setting of the event did a decent job of encapsulating the nature of a dreamstate.
The exhibition held from the 9th to the 21st of April, and featured a bouquet of blooming artists and photographers, with diverse styles including Yagazie Emezi’s neo-modern approach to invoking ancient cultural themes, Chigozie Obi’s colorful characters that tell intimate tales of today’s people, Bunmi Agusto’s pastel figures, Ugo Ahiakwo’s metallurgical creations, Ayanfe Olarinde’s stone-figures, as well as work by Sola Olulode and Kwadwo Asiedu.
DADA gallery head, Oyinkansola Dada, describes the event as an attempt to “…explore an idealized version of reality, through the lens of contemporary artists working across different mediums”. She lauds the artists for considering new ways of thinking about their world and the places they hold within it.
According to Dada, this coming together is supposed to evoke a sense of movement out of the ordinary, especially in the somewhat worrisome political period in Nigeria, and West Africa by extension. In other words, art is supposed to transport us to a more ideal state, even if only with our imagination.
Upon entering the scene, visitors were greeted by Yagazie Emezi’s ‘Waiting room for my chi’ (2023), from the WAYWARD series. The image features a furry seat against a maroon-colored backdrop with an ethereal aura. In Igbo cosmology, the ‘chi’ is a guardian spirit and an individual’s invisible self-half. The placement of this piece at the entrance feels intentional. Contextually, and traditionally, it would make a lot of sense to consult with your chi before stepping into a dreamstate.
The opening was sprawling with work from the enlisted artists, Chigozie Obi gleefully explained the meaning of her project on display. Standing out amongst her works on display is a watercolor on paper titled ‘Jide Obi Gi, O Ga-Adi Mma’ (directly translated from Igbo as ‘Hold your heart, it will be okay’), a vibrant painting of a girl weeping.
Chigozie dubs this piece “A daily mantra that gets me through the hard times in life, which I’ve had recently because of the elections and other personal issues”, further echoing Dada’s sentiments about the role of art and beauty as a sort of escape in more anxious times.
Not far off is the ever-happy Ugo Ahiakwo, a “multipotentialite” by some measure. In a brief conversation with the fashion designer by training, we get a glimpse into how Ugo managed to conceptualize and create ‘CONQUEROR’, a magnificent turquoise-colored piece, arranged almost in the shape of angel wings, made from car fenders of a Toyota Avalon, wood, roofing sheets, mirrors, auto paint, screws, matte, and glossy lacquer.
Discussing the various inspirations (which interestingly includes a crush from a few years ago), he specifically mentions the idea of ‘stooping to conquer’, and doing all the down and dirty work at the bottom before ascending to the top, as is the nature of life in general, as well even, as the process of manufacturing this metal monument
Also on display, Ugo takes half credit alongside Oyinkansola for the ‘cloud room’, a small enclosure filled with white foam and containing a concealed loud speaker.
‘Reverie’ was a resounding success, commanding a boisterous, youthful crowd of viewers of many different races and nationalities. ‘Reverie’ has brought individuals together through art to both contemplate the pertinent issues of our time, and provide a window of release amidst contemporary angst.