The works of 24 young and upcoming artists based in Edo State were given expression on Thursday in an exhibition in Benin City powered by Azura-Edo, an independent power producer (IPP) contributing to the growth of Nigeria’s energy sector.

Some of the exhibiting artists.

The art exhibition, held in collaboration with Black Passionate Art Gallery Limited and Edo State Skills Development Agency (Edojobs), comes as an effort to promote, encourage and empower young artists.

It saw 24 artists, most of them first-time exhibitors, showcasing a total of 54 inspired art pieces depicting different messages relating to the human life, nature and condition.

Some of the artists whose works were on display at the exhibition which took place at Victor Uwaifo Creative Hub in Benin City, the state capital, include Ijitimehin Michael, an OND graduate from Auchi Polytechnic; Leo Esezebor, a graduate of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Benin (UNIBEN); Ben John Beloved, Chukwuma Victory, Oyesode Grace, Ashiedu Stephen, Victor Ekene Ezekiel, and Ekere Chidubem Ejiofor, all of Fine and Applied Arts Department, UNIBEN.

Speaking at the exhibition, Edo State Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, Prince Bamidele Obaitan, said the state has a rich cultural heritage deeply rooted in arts, referring to historical artefacts that were taken from the great Benin Kingdom and which have gone around the world.

“Right now Edo State is on the global map, and everybody is looking to see what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it,” Obaitan said in his introductory speech.

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“I walked in here and I’ve looked at the art pieces, and I can say with all due confidence that art and our culture are in good hands as we move into the future.

“Our culture and our heritage are rich. It’s a living, breathing culture, and we need to be proud. And I stand here as a proudly Edo man to say that the way forward is beautiful, and the slogan ‘Edo to the world’ is alive,” he said.

Chief Financial Officer of Azura Edo, Mrs Nonye Obibuaku, said the exhibition was part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme and its way of supporting young artists to excel.

“As part of our Corporate Social Responsibility programme, and education is one of our flagship programmes, we are supporting university students in Edo State and arts is something we all love, so we thoughts it’s a good way and a win for everybody,” Obibuaku said.

Mr Emmanuel Ubamadu, Managing Director of Black Passionate Arts Gallery Limited and co-organizer of the event, appreciated Azura for the support and belief in the young and promising artists at a time artists are highly neglected in the society.

Some of the artists, beaming with excitement, gave a brief interpretation of the works they had produced, all of them telling different dimensions of the human story that most of the people present could relate with.

Other dignitaries present include the Managing Director, Edo State Skills Development Agency (Edojobs), Violet Obiokoro, a representative from National Musuem, Segun Oisamoje, among others.