October 31, 2014

“Africa on the floor” exhibit puts Nigerian art on Persian-quality rugs (Photos)

The art rugs that hung from the ceiling and on the walls of the Quintessence Gallery in Lagos possessed all the qualities of Persian rugs and all the beauty of African art.

Swedish-based Nigerian curator and head of ModernAfricanArt in Sweden, Lande Anjous-Zygmunt, titled the exhibit of African art rugs ‘Africa on the Floor’.

The exhibit, which is now making its way from Lagos to Abuja, is a collection of 20 art rugs featuring designs from some of Nigeria’s most prominent artists, including Bruce Onobrakpeya, Muraina Oyelami, Nike Davies Okundaye, Ehi Obinyan, Sam Ovraiti and Tola Wewe.

Two designs from the collection were works of the modernafricanart gallery. The works have received an overwhelming reception, Anjous-Zygmunt said, especially from the artists themselves.

“What has been gold-worth has been the reaction of the artists themselves,” the curator said in an interview with PA.

“Up until now, it has all been concepts and images and discussions back and forth, but they haven’t actually seen the final products. They have just been positively surprised and overwhelmed and ecstatic.”

It took over six years to put the collection together. Made using hand-knotted Tibetan and Afghan techniques and crafted in 100 per cent Himalayan wool, the art rugs cut across borders, fusing techniques from the East with African art and color.

“It is our greatest hope that this collection will encourage intercultural collaboration and foster a greater level of mutual understanding,” a statement by Anjous-Zygmunt read.

The modernafricanart owner says the exhibit also holds another meaning. While she agrees that it is a new take on African art, it brings us back to our roots.

“Traditionally, African art has been art with a purpose. So our rugs actually brings us back to our roots.”

“My rugs are to be used. They are to be used on the floor, on the walls, sit on them, play with your kids on them. Do whatever you want. They are durable enough,” Anjous-Zygmunt explained.

“I call them rugs for life. They will outlive you and I, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren. It’s a heirloom that you pass from one generation to the other because it’s such quality.”

About the author  ⁄ Pilot Africa

Pilot Africa News is run and edited by Chika Moses. A video journalist eager to find new, great and inspiring content in Nigeria and Africa. Got a story tip? Send a message!