Having seen a lot of Michael Tubi’s work and seen his absolute dedication to his craft, I was fully expecting his exhibition – The Sounds of Africa – to be fantastic.
However, when I got to the Menier Gallery yesterday evening, nothing could have prepared me for the passion that jumped off frame after frame – artistes caught up in the euphoria of their work; that moment of connection between the maestro and their audience; the bliss that crosses the artistes’ face when the music hits their soul.
In an art gallery a few minutes’ walk from London Bridge, Hugh Masekela, Femi Kuti, Don Jazzy, Shattawale, Davido, Angelique Kidjo, Faith Child, King Wasiu Ayinde Marshall and so many artistes from our proud continent jumped off the walls.
Now, I’ve been to many art exhibition openings, and the artist will be lucky to get one or two active patrons, and the rest of the people there will be their aunty’s cousin’s landlord’s wife come for moral support.
Not so for the Sound of Africa – some of the first people to arrive were Dr Dayo Olomu, Mr Umar Bashir (representing the Nigerian High Commission), HRH Princess Deun Solarin, DJ Abass himself, and many other important members of the Nigerian society in the UK.
The representative of the Nigerian High Commission congratulating Tubes and talking about the importance of elevating art in the Nigerian community:
Dr Boma Douglas, Sope Olajide of Factory 78, and Ike Onuorah of Strictly Entertainment were among the seven people who made speeches at the event – all of them praising and elevating this young man who took a passion to simply stunning heights.
After the formalities, the hors d’oeuvres were passed round by attentive, Nigerian wait staff, and the mingling began in earnest. The gallery was at capacity crowd, and the 80-odd guests present were fanning themselves as they wandered around the room.
Most times, an artist can hope for exposure, a positive mention in an article here or a blog post there, but this was no ordinary private viewing as I was quickly starting to realise.
Twenty minutes into the main event, a lady approached me to ask if any of the art work was for sale, and whom she would need to speak with in order to make a purchase. This was not my gig, but I broke out in a cold sweat! I rushed off in search of Michael, and a deal was struck in seconds – the Femi Kuti photograph had found a new home.
In quick succession followed KWAM1, Tiwa Savage and Onyeka Onwenu. Other than my joy at seeing my friend rewarded for his work, I felt pride at Nigerians for supporting the arts, for putting their money inwards, for showing appreciation for our culture.
The event was a triumph and Michael Tubes has plenty to be proud of.
The exhibition continues for the rest of the week.
Admission – FREE
Exhibition Times –
Wednesday 26th – Friday 28th, 11am – 6pm
Saturday 29th, 11am – 3pm
Venue – Menier Gallery 51 Southwark Street London, SE 1 1RU.
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