Earlier today, I came across an interview in the "Arts" section of The Guardian Online(Lagos, 10/25/2008) that is symptomatic of the malaise in contemporary arts journalism in Nigeria and the abuse of the history of art in Nigeria by commentators who had better be doing something else. In this interview with the Guardian journalist, Bridget Onochie, the artist/pastor/ public relations officer Rev. Adedapo Tayo had quite a few things to say about his multidisciplinary career. But the part that caught my attention was his comment on "The Art school and schools of art"
"It is high time people knew that the school of art is a department in an institution having art or creative art as a curriculum. It could be art department in any tertiary institution but art school is a different thing entirely; example is the Osogbo Art School, where Oliver Bier came into Nigeria and discovered some people, grouped them together, gave them some inductions and exposed them to art. Subsequently, a school of thought came, and that is the art school. As Fakaye would say, he never belonged to the art school of Oliver Bier because he already existed as an artist before Oliver Bier came to Nigeria. So, the school of art is different, an academic institution where formal training is giving to students to discover their potentials but art school is a pattern of art and its good example is Osogbo Art School."
I am not quite sure why The Guardian thought that this sort of nonsensical statement about the so-called difference between "art school" and "school of art" deserved the honor of its pages. But I find it embarrassing to read stuff like this in this respected newspaper. Why did the journalist not follow up with, "could you please tell me what the heck you are talking about"? More important did this artist actually speak about an "Oliver Bier", when he clearly was referring to Ulli Beier, the co-founder (with Duro Ladipo) of Mbari Mbayo Club, Osogbo? Even if one blamed the printer's devil for the spelling "Bier," or "Fakaye," how "Ulli" morphed into "Oliver" thrice in this passage is incomprehensible. Imagine a student relying on this passage as a credible source (after all it is published in The Guardian!) on the history of Osogbo art, you get why I am miffed at, and cannot give a pass on, stuff like this.