Friday 9 September 2011

Ayoola Gbolahan

A Horizon abroad
 Sunday, 10 April 2011 00:00
 AYOOLA Gbolahan joined some other young Nigerian artists, who, in the last few years, have been seeking visibility abroad to complement the recent rise in demand for contemporary arts.
Gbolahan’s first show titled Horizon opened at Arc Gallery, Tottenham, U.K. on April 7 and runs for one month.
Last year, two Lagos-based artists, Nyemika Onwuka and Uchay Joel-Chima, had showed Elegant Urban Decay and Much Strings Attached separately at Arc Gallery, UK.
Gbolahan often roves around his native Yoruba land to wriggle through a global perspective of a chosen subject.
This is rendered in such works as The Discuss, The Dance, The Struggle and Anyone’s Guess.
Such native flavour, he recalls, has its root in his practical research on Yoruba mythology. In fact, “I worked for a babalawo (Yoruba religion priest) just to have a deep knowledge of the culture and the people’s belief.”
And with African motifs less emphasised on Gbolahan’s canvas, the human figural and other images, sometimes in abstraction or surreal, stresses the wandering and adventure-like movement of his brush movement.
With Horizon, the artist has the opportunity to explain that his residence in the Ifa priest’s shrine has nothing to do with his faith. He warns: “There is a difference between religion and spirituality.”

THOUGH, his works may have featured in quite a number of group shows in Lagos, Gbolahan appears dissatisfied with the way art is being promoted in a city that is, indisputably, the hub of art for Nigeria and West Africa. In fact, there is something about Lagos art scene that the artist would love to change if he has to bring his next show home. He notes, “aside from the high cost of staging shows here, what we describe as art shows most times are salon shows.”  Such shows, he argues, fall below the standard of an ideal shows.
Art shows, he explains, “are suppose to project a new line of thoughts. And for an artist to do that, he needs financial support, which is very difficult to get here.”
Gbolahan has not been missing the action back home and at international level as his works have been part of the tour show, The Last Pictures Show, organised by Douala, Cameroon-based promoter Catherine Pittet. The event featured Gbolahan’s works in the three editions held in Lagos and Douala.
The Arc Gallery show, he explains, is a journey of almost a year before the date was fixed. “When the management of the gallery and I met, I requested for a six-month period to, specifically, paint for the show.” He states, “I would not like to paint to meet the definition of a gallery, rather to the focus of a subject, which is why I did not have works already on ground to meet demands.”
FROM core abstraction, Gbolahan has moved to what he explains as being inspired by the dual identity of man. “I believe that man has fears, which need to be conquered before he can truly live.”
Gbolahan holds a B.A Ed in Fine and Applied Art from Obafemi Awolowo University, (Adeyemi College of Education) Ile-Ife, Osun State.

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