ArtMiabo International Art Festival (AMIAF), first visual arts event with focus and theme on the trajectory of Afrobeat music genre is featuring creative professionals across diverse fields of The Arts in its the 2023 edition.
The peculiar visual arts event, which runs from April 27 to May 1 2023 at Ebonylife Plaza in Victoria Island, Lagos, is centered on the development of the Afrobeat music genre. AMIAF, founded by artist and gallerist Miabo Enyadike, exposed the potential in art from Africa during its first edition held at the same venue last year. The 2023 edition, to be held on 27 April-May 1, 2023, includes a workshop on the theme of the art festival. Again, the yearly AMIAF features 24 artists from different parts of the world, as well as others inspired by Afrobeats, Enyadike said. “We are hoping to exhibit Art that has Afrobeats feel; something that radiates street expressions and reflects the vibrance of the Afrobeats music genre.”
This year’s event will be curated by curator and artist Yusuf Durodola, a Guinness World Record Achiever (Largest Painting by Number) for Ecole de dessin, Lagos, Nigeria. He is the founder and artistic director of Artegun Foundation, a platform vision to nurture the creativity of young artists and offer a difference in curative experience strategically to promote art.
FRANCE-based designer Babatunde Banjoko, whose art in illustration and branding traverses Africa, has been confirmed as one of the participating artists at the 2023 event.
Banjoko, a creator of Fela’s record covers, promotional items, and band costumes, will commemorate Afrobeat in a special way at AMIAF. One of those inspired by the late maverick, Banjoko disclosed that he is “bringing into the ‘Arts of Afrobeat’ festival, the narrative years of design collaboration with the late Fela Kuti, who was the precursor of the genre that has since gone international.”
He added that whatever glory is being celebrated currently about Afrobeats, the genre’s trajectory can’t be denied, which “Gave birth and credence to the Afrobeats derivation. This is factual.”
As a graphic artist based in Europe, Banjoko has a broad link between Afrobeat or Afrobeats music genre and fine art. “Firstly, I’m a visual artist with multiple knowledge: fine-arts, graphics, multimedia design, photography, tapestry, stained glass, and pottery,” Banjoko stated. His pool of knowledge, he disclosed, has been derived by studying widely across cultures.
On examining the relationship between art and Afrobeat, Banjoko pointed out that the variety of art forms that are employed to deliver a critical message were inspired by the richness of Afrobeat music in terms of sounds, lyrics, and colors.
He added that the broadness of art, in both fine and applied contexts such “as painting, illustration, design, graphics, advertising and publicity, fashion design, cloth making, embroidery, jewellery, shoe fabrication, make-up, costume design, photography and scenography, printing,” all are linked to Afrobeat.
For example, Banjoko recalled how he brought his art skills into working with Fela. “Afrobeat famous compositions and moods are incorporated into album covers, designed with mixed mediums of expression.”
He also explained how Afrobeat has influenced what he described as his “dynamic approaches in rendering some of Fela’s record covers, newspaper adverts, concert posters, costume design for the lady dancers and patterns on some of the Afrobeat legend’s costumes and shoes.”
Banjoko has a brief on his presentations for AMIAF 2023. One of the works most likely to feature at AMIAF is ‘King Penguins’. There is an engaging, though short, provenance about the sculpture. He recalled that three months before the COVID-19 pandemic, he saw the birds depicted during his travels to the ‘Hog Island Archipelago’, one of French’s Southern and Antarctic overseas territories.
And in creating the sculptures, the dynamics of colour and clay came to the fore. “After firing in the oven, this medium of the brown clay changes from brown to dark brown,” Banjoko explained. “Such clay is ideal for making small and medium sculpture pieces as medium brown clay is highly sought after for its colour transformation.”
He, however, disclosed that for logistics and right protection issues, he wouldn’t give further details of what he will be showing at AMIAF 2023. “In Nigeria, our beloved nation, conditions of protection of artworks differ from the regulated conditions in the Western World,” Banjoko explained. “For sure, Nigeria has a bright future and is on its way in measuring up to those standards and find its rightful place in history.”
Lemi Ghariokwu, who designed more than 20 albums for Fela, and Ed Keazor, a historian and the creator of the Ikenga Band, which features several Afrobeat performers, are two more creatives with an Afrobeat history who have joined Banjoko this year. Bolaji Alonge, a photographer whose works and career center on the post-Fela era but who identifies with the Afrobeats spirit of creative agility, also joins as a special guest.
Based on the link between his art and Afrobeat music, Ghariokwu, in specific terms explained the role of fine art in Afrobeat music. “Fine art played the role of packaging the brand in Fela’s music,” he stated during a recent chat ahead of AMIAF 2023. Ghariokwu disclosed that Fela loved art so much that he used a couple of artists for his album designs. However, Fela’s love for art, Ghariokwu recalled, was more energised when the late Afrobeats legend met him. “When I joined the movement, I became the game changer. My art graphically illustrated the message and ideology inherent in Fela’s music. We became collaborators, and the art became a supplement to the music. That has become a tradition.”
After the demise of Fela, the link between fine art and Afrobeat expanded in the works of Ghariokwu. In 2023, Lemi’s art was the star of a 34 international contemporary artists group exhibition themed Black President: The Art and Legacy of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, at Museum of Contemporary Art, New York. Interestingly, 20 years after, Ghariokwu is also showing at another Afrobeat-focused festival, AMIAF 2023.
Is the place of fine art the same in the post-Fela era or Afrobeats generation? “In the post-Fela era or Afrobeats generation, the place of fine art is not the same,” Ghariokwu noted. “Music packaging has changed because of advancements in technology. Cover designs are now plainly simple and digital. With music streaming, musicians and fans are hardly thinking about fine art. Priority is more on video production to market the music.”
AMIAF 2023 is packed with a number of legendary figures who can provide a worldwide perspective on the theme and thus gives the Afrobeats new life.