A four-day exhibition featuring the paintings of award-winning Nigerian virtual artist, Mr Kehinde Dada, opened at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York on Monday evening.
On display at the event tagged: ‘Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) Art Exhibition’, are 48 works of Dada that seek to galvanise all stakeholders into stepping up action on the 17 SDGs.
The event is organised by the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the UN in collaboration with the Nigerian consulate in New York and Lankmark Kreations, a private firm.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Dada’s paintings depict the various development issues covered by the SDGs against the backdrop of rural Nigeria.
The works, which focus mainly on women and youths, address such issues as poverty, hunger, climate change, gender equality, quality education, among others.
Addressing guests, the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN, Amb. Tijani Mohammad-Bande, said the exhibition was organised to advance the SDG’s conversation and provoke action.
Mohammad-Bande, who was recently elected President of the 74th UN General Assembly, said the choice of art as a tool was informed by the power of its impact.
In his remarks, Vice-President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Amb. Omar Hilale, described the adoption of the SDGs in 2015 as a tremendous achievement of multilateralism.
Hilale said although successes had been recorded on a number of the goals and targets, progress had been slow in many areas, hence the need for more efforts.
“With less than 11 years remaining to reach our ambitious goals, it is time to step up our actions to shift the world towards sustainable and resilient path.
“I am sure that this exhibition showcasing original and colourful paintings of Kehinde Dada will inspire us to step action on the SDGs,” he said.
Evaluating paintings, an art curator, Dr Patrick Akinbola, lauded Dada’s artistry and focus on the grassroots, which he said had not been carried along in the SDG’s conversation.
“When you look at the almost 50 works that he has on display at an aesthetic, technical level, one of the strong points that I find in the works is that you really couldn’t pigeon-hole him to a particular style or mode.
“When we begin to look at the message, I feel very strongly that what Kehinde has out here deserves celebration.
“I see it as a catalyst for more dialogue at the community level, because when you look at the works you don’t need interpretation or a degree in art to understand what they are talking about,’’ Akinbola said.
Introducing the works to guests, Dada said his concern as a virtual artist was actualisation of the SDGs through action by all stakeholders rather than mere talk.
The face of the paintings, according to him, is the portrait of a young girl who is crying and smiling at the same time, with a bracelet in 17 colours on her neck.
He explained that the crying was as a result of her parents’ death due to lack of proper healthcare; hunger, poverty, power failure, among others.
“But hope came when the bracelet, representing the 17 goals, came upon her neck and the crying transited into a smile.
“My main objective is to visualise the goals with these paintings as simply as possible so that everyone can get the message and be inspired to take action towards realising them,’’ he said.
The opening session was attended by foreign diplomats, UN staff members and officials of the Nigerian consulate in New York-led by the Consul General, Mr Benayaogha Okoyen. (NAN)