10 Finger Arts

The other day I finally received a painting, or rather two, I had commissioned some time early in November. I had met the guys from 10 Fingers Art Studio at the Borno Hotel Conference where they had a stall just next to Maiduguri’s Alhaji Mai Gana. I had particularly admired a picture of El-Kanemi, a reproduction of the most famous of all images of him, done in pyrotechnic on board. This was obviously impractical for me to buy so we discussed other possibilities. One idea was that they reproduce the image in oil on canvas for me in a radically smaller size. The other idea was that they paint me something that represents Adamawa culture or rather one of Adamawa’s cultures. This idea came out of the discussion in which both, Mustapha and Hassan, told me that they were actually based in Mubi, Adamwa state and that El-Kanemi had very little to do with their history. From my notes and memory we agreed they produce a cultural painting instead of the El-Kanemi one, after all the latter is a quite common image. And, I’m pretty sure I made that clear enough. However, yesterday Mustapha came around with two paintings, one of the El-Kanemi image and one of Wulma cultural dancers. He swore we agreed on two paintings. I don’t really want to accuse him of lying but I can’t help to suspect that he pretty well knows we agreed on one painting and just tried his luck. I mean, he wasn’t in the least surprised when I told him I remember to only have commissioned one painting and wasn’t the slightest bit willing to reduce the price for both together for me. And, I generally have the impression of he’s quite a clever businessman. For example he told me he would produce more cultural paintings for me and that this might just be the beginning of a good business relationship. And I would be very welcome to visit them in Mubi on my way to Yola – And I’m sure it will be very hard not to walk out there with another painting. In fact, the reason that I in the end bought both of them is the quite stark contrast between the two images. But have a look yourself:

I do seriously suspect that this has largely to do with the fact that the former is based upon an image, hence, the main composition and outlines are already provided, and has been reproduced by them at least one another time before, more likely several times.

Even more interestingly, Mustapha and his colleague Hassan have secured a contract with the Emir of Damaturu for a number of portrait paintings. While Mustapha was suggesting that he otherwise felt disrespected and mistreated by the organisers of the Borno State Hotel conference it is likely that this contact was made there.


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