Following its successful inaugural show in Dubai, Luxembourg’s leading contemporary art gallery, Zidoun & Bossuyt, has opened to the public two solo exhibitions by rising Nigerian contemporary artist, Awodiya Toluwani and installation artist duo Martine Feipel and Jean Bechameil last May 11.
The opening reception for both shows have been well received by art enthusiasts, further cementing their strong position in the contemporary world.
Echoes of Servitude: Awodiya Toluwani
Awodiya Toluwani (b. 1994, Nigeria), a contemporary visual artist known for his emblematic style of Afro art and expressive representation of the Afrocentric vibe, has been making waves through his unique art style and technique.
Echoes of Servitude, being Toluwani’s theme, marks his first solo art exhibition in the UAE. His focus is to bring the African women into the spotlight to highlight their limitless strength after being hidden in the shadows of men as the imagery of black women in that period seem to be non-existent. Seen as insignificant, they have been overlooked. That scenario in history is the focal point why he wanted to change the narrative. He desires to showcase and celebrate the essence of black women being homemakers and life givers as he too, has women in his life who serve as inspirations.
With identity, divination and history deeply rooted in his work of acrylic on textured canvases, Toluwani opted to give art connoisseurs a glimpse of history of the transatlantic slave trade. His intense shadings and consolidation of images unveil stories of pain and anguish as seen in one of his works entitled “Sweat and Blood” which shows the enslaved Africans harvest cotton in the plantation.
His emblematic style, which are highly inspired by scars, are both from African tribes and injuries from slavery, leaving the skin embossed. On the significance of his art style, Toluwani said, “Scars can be painful but they can be the embodiment of history and art”.
Drawing inspiration from master painters, he wanted his art to represent a new era for Africans – giving him a symbol as to why he does what he does.
Rebels: Martine Feipel and Jean Bechameil
Renowned artist duo, Martine Feipel and Jean Bechameil (b. 1975, Luxembourg/b. 1964, Paris), known for their installations centered in the concepts of physicality and idealistic architecture, have been active in the European art scene since their first collaboration in 2008. Their work shows the idea of controlled space with elements of imagination and illusion.
With the duo’s first exhibition in the UAE entitled “Rebels”, they aim to question modernity with technology our perception of space, ideology, utopia, automation and everyday life through their art installations to be understood in different levels and to create discussions among their audiences. “This is also a way of rebelling for something”, Feipel said, referring to anything that we would rebel to at some point in our lives, thus the exhibition title.
The creative duo’s commitment to continually evolve their art led them into programming and incorporating their designed movements into the robotics inside their installations. Their aesthetic and technical approach to art are their ways to forever questioning life with different themes. Geometry, architecture and even Greek art are evident in their works. With the crossover of tech and art, Bechameil emphasized not to be afraid of technology.
When asked about their inspiration to create such aesthetic but intricate works, Feipel said that they have always been fascinated with the connection of humans and space with its notion as a center to most of their works. They wanted to create forms that take place in real life and for their audiences to also immerse in the context of such ideology. “It’s like dreaming differently, imagining and dreaming your work and reinventing it”, she added.
From drawings and sculptures that serve as models, the duo focuses their works to spaces and volumes that speak of mystery, leaving their audiences at awe. The creation stages and methods of working are something they take pride in their art, which take weeks up to months to complete, the longest being their installation in the 54th Biennale which took them a year to complete.
Apart from their Rebels exhibition in Dubai, the creative duo has other ongoing exhibitions as well. Some of those are: “Garden of Resistance”, a unique project consisting of three sculptures commissioned for Mudam’s Jardin des Sculptures until January 9, 2023 in Luxembourg; “Les Brutalistes”, a permanent artwork set in Nantes, France where locals are invited to come together and cook as a group in the geometrical and colorful compositions of their sculptures equipped with wood-burning stoves.
The two solo exhibitions will last until June 25, 2022.