Friday 30 September 2011


Hassan’s shades of Expressions


(First published October 10, 2007)
When an artist sets out for a solo exhibition with a title as simple as Expressions, it is most likely a license to go on artistic rampage.

  This is exactly what painter, Sabitu Abu Hassan did at his recent solo art exhibition held at the Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos State.
  From social to cultural and political, the artist left no stone unturned in his aggressive impressionistic touch.
 From about 25 abstract there was this one called What’s On A Man‘s Mind, oil on canvas. A close shot of a male’s gaze is placed against a medium shot of a nude female figure, suggesting the thought of the man. And if one takes it for granted that the thought of a naked woman brings a delight to a man, this piece from Hassan might be suggesting otherwise: the man is not happy.
  That looks like an irony, isn’t it? Yes. The man’s upper and lower lips, stroked down the cheek and furrowing the brows, all combined to depict a sad man.   
In contrast with the above piece, Hassan gave his viewers a scene captured from a longer distance in the work titled Yemi Dara L’Obinrin, (Yemi, A Beautiful Maiden), also oil on canvas. Comparatively, this piece, in spite of the distance view and yet impressionistic, one makes no mistake who is Yemi in the joyful crowd. 
  Singled out by the brown gele (head gear) and buba (Native Yoruba blouse) with very dark iro  (wrapper) to complete the elegance, the central focus, as explained by Hassan’s palette knife strokes is in tune with the spirit of the composite and theme.     
   The artist, a former Secretary of Oriade Local Council Development Area, Lagos State, may not have built the theme of the show around his political sojourn. However, the aura of politics radiated here. In a society such as ours where things hardly go right, artists of diverse genres are usually quick to use their constituencies to cry for change.
  Such works like Separation of Power, Alaga Council (The Council Chairman), and Alagba Meta (Three Wise Men) brought forth an opportunity to share his public administration experience through art.
  These works, the artist disclosed, were done during his tenure as a local government boss. Four unidentified images in the acrylic work, Separation of Power is a curious one: the lack of respect for the various arms of government,  going by Hassan’s experience, is not peculiar to the intrigues of power as we have seen demonstrated in Abuja. Even at the local government level, respect for separation of power may be lacking as well at that bottom tier of government. 
  And before the centre disintegrate in a society where elders do not keep quiet, even in the face of intimidation, wisdom prevails. This is where Alagba Meta (Three Wise men) comes in. Though in abstractive approach, beads won by chiefs and others in that class, which is the symbol of wisdom and respect in a society such as ours, are the immediate attraction of the work. And enough to get the message across.
  Having come this far and added an experience gained from the corridors of power, Hassan has used the exhibition, Expressions as a mirror of who we are. 
 Trained at the Yaba College of Technology, Yaba, Lagos State, Hassan made his debut exhibition at a group show The Happenings of Our Time, held at the Russian Cultural Center, 1992 and solo Visual Metaphor, at the French Cultural Centre, Lagos in 2002.
  Some of his other group shows are: Flower Blossom, Oxford Exhibition, for the  Fairer World in Glasgow, London, UK, International Monetary Fund Exhibition, I.M.F, FCT Abuja and Index Show at Nimbus Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos.

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