Bringing the rich legacy of Nigeria’s famed Mbari Club to Art Dubai

The gallery displays artwork of prominent African artists. (Tafeta Gallery)
Updated 20 March 2019

Bringing the rich legacy of Nigeria’s famed Mbari Club to Art Dubai

  • Mbari Club was founded by a group of artists in Nigeria
  • It aimed to support new artists in the country after its independence

LONDON: Eight leading modernist artists working across Africa and Europe from the 1960s to the present day are being showcased by London’s Tafeta Gallery at Art Dubai — the Middle East’s largest art fair, which kicked off on Wednesday and will wrap up on Saturday.   
They include Ibrahim El-Salahi, the first African artist to have a retrospective at the Tate Modern in London, and Bruce Onobrakpeya, whose works are in the collections of the Vatican Museum in Rome, the National Gallery in Nairobi, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, among other prestigious places.


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All eight artists were affiliated with the Mbari Club for artists and writers in Ibadan, Nigeria and its regional chapters.
Established in 1961, the club was founded by a diverse group of artists, writers, musicians, actors and intellectuals.
Arab News met up with Ayo Adeyinka, founder and owner of Tafeta, to learn more about how the club nurtured talent. 
“The aim was to create an artistic space for artists to flourish post-Independence. The artists I’m bringing to Dubai showed at Mbari in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. They are very well established now, but back then they were fresh-faced starters trying to find their feet and create their own artistic language.


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“The legacy of the club, which was pan-Aftican, is that it gave artists a platform to engage internationally,” he said. 
Adeyinka has a background in finance and was a keen collector of art before deciding to make his passion his career. “I found the arts a lot more engaging and fulfilling and knowing a bit about business always helps in the creative space,” he explained. 
He has showed successfully at Art Dubai over three seasons and is especially pleased that he has attracted Emirati buyers. 

(Tafeta Gallery)

Speaking of the event, he said: “It’s super well organized and the only fair I go to where a free lunch is served to the exhibitors! You feel looked after which is a bonus.”   

Asked about the art scene on the African continent, he pointed to Nigeria as brimming with talent and singled out its booming youth population as an important factor — media reports indicate that more than half of its population is under the age of 35.

“That’s a lot of young, creative energy which is drawing on the deep-rooted traditions of the country’s artists, writers and musicians,” he said. 

‘Age-Old Cities’ exhibition in Riyadh museum breathes new life into ancient sites 

Updated 19 April 2019

‘Age-Old Cities’ exhibition in Riyadh museum breathes new life into ancient sites 

  • National Museum in Riyadh hosts digital show that tells the story of Mosul, Palmyra, Aleppo and Leptis Magna

JEDDAH: An exhibition that uses digital technology to revive the region’s ancient sites and civilizations that have been destroyed or are under threat due to conflict and terrorism opened at the National Museum in Riyadh on April 18.

“Age-Old Cities” tells the story of four historically significant cities that have been devastated by violence: Mosul in Iraq, Palmyra and Aleppo in Syria, and Leptis Magna in Libya. 

Using stunning giant-screen projections, virtual reality, archival documents and images, and video testimonials from inhabitants of the affected sites, the immersive exhibition transports visitors back in time and presents the cities as they were in their prime. 

It charts their journey from the origins of their ancient civilizations to their modern-day state, and presents plans for their restoration and repair. 

The exhibition has been organized by the Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris. Riyadh is the first stop outside the French capital on the exhibition’s global tour. 

The exhibition follows last month’s unveiling of the Kingdom’s new cultural vision, which included the announcement of several initiatives, including a new residency scheme for international artists to practice in the Kingdom and the establishment of the Red Sea International Film Festival. 

Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, minister of culture, said: “I am delighted to welcome the ‘Age-Old Cities’ exhibition to Riyadh. 

“It highlights the importance of heritage preservation, particularly here in the Middle East, and the vulnerability of some of our historic sites. 

“It must be the responsibility of governments to put an end to this damage and neglect, and to put heritage at the heart of action, investment, and policy.

“I will be encouraging my fellow members of government to attend this eye-opening exhibition in our National Museum, and hope to work in the future with partners, governments and experts to do what we can to secure our region’s heritage.”

The exhibition carries a significant message about the importance of preserving and protecting these precious but fragile sites — one which resonates strongly in the week when one of the world’s most-famous heritage sites, Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral, went up in flames.