Olu Ajayi’s new dawn beckons
BY TAJUDEEN SOWOLE
Sunday, 08 May 2011 00:00
THE signature, Olu Ajayi, no doubt is well known in contemporary Nigerian art, but the artist is set for re-documentation of his work.
Worried about lack of proper documentation and standardization of Nigerian art, Ajayi’s studio is heading for a policy that will about adequate authentication of his work.
Also important in his re-branding effort is limiting the number of paintings that will be made available to the collectors. This, he argues is necessary to protect art from commoditise mentality and “give it stronger value.”
In July this year, Ajayi hopes to start putting this new idea to test with a solo exhibition of 40 monochrome and watercolour paintings.
The monochrome though represents old and conservative rendition, he says “I see colours in black and white.” One of such works titled A Lady in Bar, seated in an apparent isolated environment brings to fore the prize of loneliness.
Recently, the artist took another leap with a technique, which has derivatives from drizzling, spilling or simply breaking lines. For Ajayi, the new face of his canvas conceals surreal flavour of this technique.
From drawing to painting, he brings forward a combination of what made the art scene of the 1980s and 1990s blossomed just as the dynamics of today’s canvas is built into the new look of his work. For example in The Birth of the Wind – a curiosity into science – goes a long way to enhance his new canvas. So much is known about rain, sun and moon, he explains and notes: “it appeared we don’t know as much about wind.” Surrealism, he says, is being taken to a new height here as the drizzling “brings some mystery and challenges to the viewer.”
The new look of his
canvas, he says it’s about the ultimate aim of creating art, rather than the rudiment of copying and making pictures. This much the artist has imbibed in his over 26 years career, but has in the last one year taken a stronger shape.
In 2007, Ajayi had experimented with this technique when he participated in a group show, Hellenic Images: 54 Nigerian Masters, an exhibition organized by the Greece embassy in Abuja. Since then, he has strengthened to “create art” with the technique, which was seen at the ArtExpo New York and Guild of Professional Fine Artists of Nigeria (GFA)’s debut show Threshold in 2008. And gradually brought in this technique or method as a new phase in my art.”
Having been at the helm of affairs of the SNA Lagos State chapter where majority of Nigerian artists and art galleries operate, Ajayi indeed knows the terrain long enough.
For an artist who has put in over 25 years of consistent studio practice into the visual art business, there is no doubt that he has something more exciting for the art.