Thursday, 15 September 2011

Kolade Oshinowo

Big man hits the circuit, again
BY TAJUDEEN SOWOLE
(First published December 3-9, 2006)
Like some masquerades that rarely appear in the public except on special occasions, some art exhibitions don’t come too often as well.
  Since his last solo show, Land of Promise, held in 2004, few of Kolade Oshinowo’s works have featured in some group exhibitions held between that period and now. The latest addition to the renowned artist’s solo credits entitled, Art for Life, whichwas just showed at the Mydrim Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos came like the much-awaited ‘big masquerade’.
  Every solo show of Oshinowo comes with double challenge of offering new things as well as sustaining those dimensional strokes and near subtle shades the master is known for.
  This exhibition can be said to have lived up to such expectation. Most of the works are the typical Oshinowo kind, with the exception of few that struck the balance between the lines. Out of the 40 exhibits, vintage Oshinowo comes alive in such pieces like Bountiful Harvest, Divided Attention, the Oyingbo series and few others that meet one’s expectation of the artist.
  But you do not leave Oshinowo’s show without adding something to your perception of the artist. Hidden at a bend around the corner of the gallery was this piece tagged, Roforofo Fight.  Impressionism of two figures wrestling in the open, and apparently, consumed by the artist’s justification for the choice of colour used in the painting. Roforofo, a Yoruba meaning for mud, played out well in the strokes of Oshinowo as one could hardly differentiate between mud colour and the artist’s mixture of colours for the piece. What a blend!
And what’s a Roforofo Fight doing at a gathering where Art for Life was being celebrated? "Do you think it is out of place?"  Oshinowo asks. Everyday living seemed to suggest that the rule of law, ethics and other things that were taken for granted in the past to ensure orderly in the society are vanishing before our very eyes these days, as a result of those (Roforofo Fighters) who choose not to play the games by the rule, he says. "Roforofo fight is hardly a civilised way to settle any disagreement," he adds.
  And here comes Oshinowo in his unique way as he buries a faint outline of two images under a sea of humans to present a market scene, the typical undesignated kind in Lagos. Though one needs an extra sight to fish out these two figures of adult and infant, the piece, however, derived its title, Mother and Child from this obscurity.

  The president of Society of Nigerian Artists, SNA, and the recipient of the National Productivity Order of Merit Award, Oshinowo who has been exhibiting his works since 34 years says the theme of the show was adapted from the phrase of the citation when the national award was being presented to him in 2004.
  From his thought of the petty traders under the scorching sun in Lagos, as seen in the Oyinbgo series, the paradox of faith and society presented in the Divine Intervention series and adaptation of late Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s lyrical interpretation of acts of lawlessness in Roforofo Fight, to the artist’s Senegalese experience and of course, the colours of Abuja Carnival in works like Grace and Colours, Ancestral Movements and Dance of the Maidens, Oshinowo’s art  exhibition, Art for Life, has brought great taste out of the vineyard.

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