Monday 27 February 2012

From the Diaspora, Ogundipe's Kaleidoscope zooms home

By Tajudeen Sowole

HOME coming for an artist in self-exile could not have been better appreciated as witnessed few days ago.
At Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos, the artist and U.S.-based Moyo Ogundipe opened another chapter in his over 20 years career when the show, Kaleidoscope of Life opened on Saturday, November 1, 2008 to a mix of selected and general audience.
Attended by dignitaries that cut across nationalities, including expatriates, the event had master printmaker, Bruce Onobrakpeya commended the artist for coming home with such works of grater dimension of traditional painting technique.
In his brief address, Onobrakpeya said: "Although Ogundipe has been working away from home for 14 years, it is significant that his paintings reflect the 'idylis' of Nigerian life: mythical, pastoral and urban. In his works, we are confronted with the real meaning of paintings. He has painfully laboured and spent unimaginable amount of time, at the risk of getting blind, to apply lines and colors, which he meticulously used to develop the images."
Preparatory to the show, Ogundipe had said that the body of works presented are self-explanatory, revealing how his art, philosophically, remains at home despite his long sojourn abroad.
From the nativity of his forms, to the African settings of the subjects, Ogundipe is a traditionalist artist.
Humbly, he would accept that he is not known back home. But for him, forgetting home is like a self-shot in the legs. "People know me in the U.S. and part of Europe, but not in Nigeria. It's about time I come home from self-exile to give people the evolution of my art. The saying that 'the river that forgets its source will dry off' is the compelling factor here. I have not been getting time to go and promote my works because I spend so much time in the studio. Each work takes me at least six months to complete. I couldn't come home because I needed to build a body of work and still maintain my identity as a very detailed painter."
In addition to the machine-finished details he gives his work, the sizes are usually in the mural ranges. Big works of such magnitude, one would think are hard sell. Although the red tags were not so visible about two hours after the opening, the calibre of guests present suggested that the face of the screens could change before the end of the day, and days to follow.
3 Lagos Socialites, by Moyo Ogundipe
   Earlier, the artist had said he is more concern about enjoying what he does than worry about appreciation. "Maybe you are right. Mural size works are not common. But for me, art is not really about selling. I am just having fun; art is the oxygen I breath. It is beyond the economic reason. Despite that, I have been able to sell my works for good prices, in fact my paintings are very expensive. I sell to museums and galleries."

And like some artists, he also confessed spiritual relationship with some of his works. "Even at selling, I sometimes find it difficult to part with some of the works. There are some works that I am so much attached to such that I don't like to part with because you know it is difficult to reproduce that, mentally."

Ogundipe holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Fine Art from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), Ile-Ife, and a Master of Fine Art degree in Painting from The Hoffberger School of Painting, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, U.S.

Having been away for such a long period, and coming home to be part of re-building his fatherland, Ogundipe discloses that he wants to use the opportunity of his visit to give back to the society. In the art sector, he plans to set up a base in Ibadan for his studio. The studio, he explains would be designed for training of youths. "I am passionate about the prospect of this country and want to contribute to the development of the youth, even though I still have my eyes at taking my works around the world for exhibition. I have this plan to set up my studio in Ibadan and see how I can assist in training our youth."

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