The Invincible Hands: Nigerian female artists on display

The Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art addresses the imbalance in male to female established artists in Nigeria

The Invincible Hands Exhibition at the Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art (YSMA) of the Pan-Atlantic University (PAU) seeks to address the disproportion of male to female established artists through an extensive art exhibition at the museum. The exhibition opened on August 6, 2021, and will run till January 18, 2022. It showcases over a hundred different artworks by forty female artists whose works include a combination of paintings, photography, tapestry and textiles, sculpture, and mixed media art. 

Curated by Olufisayo Bakare, the exhibition highlights artistic achievements that transcend Nigerian women’s stereotyped and reductive achievements in art. The goal is to celebrate the influence of marginalised female Nigerian artists in the post-colonial and contemporary eras, amplify their work and bridge inequality gaps in the art sector by placing ‘The Invincible Hands’ of female artists back into our art education and art history. It aims at being an active agent in giving these artists higher visibility. The artworks are curated from the permanent collection of the YSMA and temporary loans by artists and collectors.

“Women are often marginalised from the conversation of art. We wanted to celebrate these women and bring them to the forefront of the conversation. We wanted to show the works of emerging artists alongside established artists and mid-career artists. We are creating a table of sisterhood and dialogue with the dexterity and the tenacity of their work. We are celebrating the uniqueness of these pieces and the painstaking time it took to create them”- Curator Olufisayo Bakare.

Some of the exhibiting artists have visited the exhibition, including Amarachi Okafor, RitaDoris Ubah, Bolaji Ogunronsoye, Chidinma Nnoli, Chigozie Obi, Omoligho Udenta, Ndidi Dike, Opeyemi Owa, and Nathalie Djakou-Kassi. Other prominent guests include Jude Abaga (M.I Abaga), Tunde Bakare, Dr Nadine Siegert (Director, Goethe Institute Lagos), Kola Aina, Dotun Suleiman, Ato Arinze, Femi Akinsanya, Dr Wieber Boer, Hannah O’Leary, Adewale Alimi, and Prince Yemisi Shyllon. Various media houses including Channels TV, Arise News, The Guardian, and BusinessDay, have featured the exhibition.

About the Guest Curator

Olufisayo Bakare finds a rare balance between simplicity and African artistry in her work. Her keen interest in carving the phenomenal out of the familiar has inspired her curatorial practice by establishing her as an ally in the preservation, documentation, and representation of African culture. She diligently curates the works of indigenous and Pan-African artists and makes communities by recognising and challenging some of the most poignant topics in the arts and culture ecosystem. In line with connecting various dialogues through exchanging ideas, Olufisayo reassesses histories and their underpinned symbology. Her passion for travel, anthropology, and culture has given her a platform to curate exhibitions, document societal experiences, and actualize site-specific installations within the creative sector and art world.