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Duke Asidere: Weaving Narratives of Change

As we delve deeper into the voices of Art for Education Exhibition, we spotlight iconic Nigerian artist, Duke Asidere - whose canvases weave narratives of social change and empowerment. 

Born in the vibrant city of Lagos in 1961, Asidere's contributions to Nigeria's contemporary art scene have left an indelible mark over four decades. Featured in our current exhibition, "Art for Education - Empowering Femme Futures," hosted on Artsy, Asidere's brushstrokes pulse with a resounding call for action, echoing both on his canvases and in his words.

Duke Asidere's artistic journey began with a spark ignited in his school days, nurtured then by the fertile grounds of Ahmadu Bello University. There, under the tutelage of Gani Odutokun and Bruce Onobrakpeya, Asidere honed his craft, graduating with a first-class degree in Fine Arts. His diverse artistic palette encompasses pencil work, engravings, oil, acrylic, and pastels. His unique style, characterized by simple yet expressive lines, bridges the realms of abstraction and figuration. Influenced by the intellectual atmosphere at ABU, Asidere's aversion to conformity and celebration of colour became hallmarks of his artistic expression.

Venturing beyond academia, Asidere lectured at the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, from 1990 to 1995, contributing significantly to a group that celebrated the exuberance of colour in their works. In 1995, he established his art studio in Lagos, where the chaotic energy of the streets became his muse, allowing him to explore societal decay, political insanity, and the subtle degradation of the community.

Asidere's commitment to nurturing new artistic talent was evident during his brief sojourn at the Delta State Polytechnic, Ughelli, between 2003 and 2005. Returning to Lagos, he emerged as a gregarious, opinionated, and impulsive force, collaborating with fellow artists to create impactful pieces reflecting the spirit of Lagos and its inhabitants. 

Duke Asidere believes art exists in a unique space, reflecting the present, projecting the future, and leaving a lasting legacy. This belief is evident in his commitment to artistic collaboration and education, where he mentors and inspires younger generations of artists.

Empowering Femme Futures:

The focal point of Asidere's creations lies in his powerful depictions of women, inspired by the strength and bravery of the women in his life. The female form features prominently in his portraiture, serving as both a celebration of women's strength and a challenge to gender inequality. Asidere's artistic language transcends mediums, from pencil sketches to oil paintings, offering a unique perspective on everyday Nigerian life and universal themes of socio-cultural and political significance. His landscapes capture the captivating power of nature and the vibrant essence of urban spaces, evoking emotions and inviting contemplation.

Through his timeless documentation of eras and his celebration of the strength of women, Asidere leaves a lasting legacy that resonates not only in galleries and museums but in the hearts and minds of those who engage with his work. "Art for Education" invites viewers to immerse themselves in Asidere's world, where art becomes a powerful tool for reflection, connection, and positive change. 

He invites us to contemplate the mundane, to find meaning in the overlooked corners of society, urging us to become active participants in creating a more equitable future.

Keynotes from Duke Asidere's Interview:

In a candid interview, Asidere speaks of art as a "rest point," a space for reflection and growth. He emphasizes the importance of patience, acceptance, and pushing oneself to the edges. This philosophy is evident in his work, which is unafraid to confront the complexities of Nigerian life and the contradictions of the human experience.

Discussing the multifaceted nature of art, he emphasizes its subjective essence, noting, "There's a file. It's like a book, a whole book of 700, 800 pages. So art for 1 may not be art for the other."

As Asidere declares, "It's all gender related to a vantage point," reminding us that our perspectives shape our understanding of the world and its inhabitants. Asidere's commitment to the Art for Education fundraiser is rooted in a belief in the transformative power of education. He expresses, "I'm involved because I believe in the generous option where you don't have to need everything… doing something that will benefit one child… that child gets benefits and that child gets education."

This dedication to positive change fuels Asidere's participation in Art for Education 2023 (a fundraiser providing period care kits for girls in public schools), where the benefits of art extend well beyond aesthetics to empower young minds through education. He recognizes the role of art and education in empowering individuals, particularly girls who face the challenges of period poverty and interrupted education.

"Art has the possibility to do a few things," Asidere declares in an interview, his voice brimming with conviction. "It involves the person participating in the creation process." And through this participation, the seeds of change are sown.

Join the movement to empower girl child education through art - Visit the exhibition here

About The Real Impact

The Real Impact is an NGO, founded in February 2019 with the aim of improving the quality of Education in public schools in Nigeria. As an organisation, we understand how Education can improve life-long learning, build skills, create jobs, build self-esteem, and improve the overall quality of life of an individual.

About The Equipped to Learn Initiative

Focuses on making an impact by ensuring that public schools in Nigeria are well equipped with school supplies and children have access to learning resources needed for a quality learning experience.

(This post is part of a series, where we delve into the minds and masterpieces of the artists who lend their voices to this crucial cause.)


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