OLA OLOIDI, EMERITUS PROFFESSOR UNN AND RENOWNED PROFFESSOR OF ART HISTORY AND CRITICISM ENUMERATES THE VIABILITY OF ARTS COURSES AND ALSO THE CHALLENGES FACED BY ART PROGRAMMES IN THE PRESENT DAY NIGERIA.
Ola Oloidi is a house hold name in Nigeria both in the field of academia and art. Oloidi, popularly known as the flogging Professorhas paid his dues and has largely contributed to the development and acceptance of art courses in Nigeria.
Last year, he was named the grand patron of the Art Historical Association of Nigeria, AHAN, at the university of Nigeria, Nsukka. The ceremony was well planned and well attended with elaborate art exhibitions and other side attractions. Verbatim was informed that Oloidi formed the association.
In a chat with verbatim recently, Oloidi said he vividly remember that art during his secondary school days was devalued, disrespected, dishonored and discouraged. He attributed this to social limitations, colonial misconception and ignorance and expressed joy that art has today triumphed over these obstacles and inhibitions. He tried to capture the above in his inaugural lecture at UNN captioned: THE REJECTED STONE: VISUAL ARTS IN AN ARTISTICALLY UNINFORMED NIGERIAN SOCIETY delivered on April 28th, 2011.
Throwing more insight on the journey to art emancipation in Nigeria, Oloidi said that some Yoruba art forms or wood sculptures especially during the late pre independence and post independence periodsthat were unfortunately considered idolatrous or heathen by Christian missionaries and colonial government were used to discourage and eventually kill interest in modern or western art in many secondary schools of the south west region and even in Nigeria.
Oloidi who has an OND from Yaba college of technology in Lagos,and B.F.A in art, M.A in art history and art criticism and Ph.D in arts history all in the United state of America said his art career began with refreshing determination and undisturbed creative, academic and intellectual impetus needed to help disable those ignorant minds that were already dangerously made fertile with art misconception and misknowledge.
He said he is happy that people have today come to realize that art has the most entrepreneurial possibilities of all college disciplines and that one can major in any of the thirteen areas of fine and applied arts to be self employed.
On the other hand, he said art is also highly sought after now because people have generally recognized the academic and intellectual ingredients of art as those who chose art as their career are well grounded in theoretical knowledge or even endowed with academic and intellectual facilities.
He also added that most people are presentlyclamouring for art courses as they have noticed that so many artists have been given international image and recognition and that art does not limit anyone as some people with degrees in art courses have held strategic offices like vice chancellors, governors, senators, company executives, and others.
Oloidi told verbatim that his over 30 years of teaching art courses have paid off because he made art appreciation a supersonic academic indoctrination, exhuming for knowledge those things that the society or students had not been made to know. He said he always impressed on students among other things that only artists are the real image of God because of their natural power to create and also gave sufficient reasons to show that no human being can do without art adding that he also show students that art among other things is a creative, academic, intellectual and essentially “monetized” profession.
He appreciated some auction houses in Nigeria like the Nimbus gallery Lagos, Mydrim gallery, Terra Kulture, Arthouse contemporary limited, and Late Peter Areh’s Pendulum Gallery for their contributions to promoting modern art in Nigeria and for also encouraging vibrant art activities in the country.
He also said that apart from the galleries and auction houses, many art collectors like Mrs Nora Majekodunmi, Sam Amuka, and Olisambu have been great pillars of patronage for art in Nigeria. The other pillars as he mentioned include Late Sam Olagbaju, YemisiShyllon, Yinka Fisher, Ede Dafonone and the Obi of Onitsha, AgbogidiIgwe Achebe among others.
Oloidi regrets that the activities of the National Gallery of Art are not as vibrant and internationalizing as they were some years ago due to paucity of funds and also added that the most biting problem of art history in Nigeria today is that of research methodology, documentation and referencing and urged the National Universities Commission, NUC to look into the development.
According to him, “art history and other art disciplines are already becoming endangered with the present limiting, mechanized and suppressive scientification of arts through scientific research methods. This and other art problems were what I casually told Professor Wole Soyinka a few weeks ago in a warm up academic commune but just for his information”.