Saturday 11 February 2012

The Mask in Lakin Ogunbanwo’s lens

 ASIDE being unique works, Lakin Ogunbanwo’s works  focussing on conceptual imagery, is giving photography a boost in the local visual arts scene.
   Some of the works viewed few days ago shortly before his debut solo show, The Mask at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos, represent the emerging vibrancy of young Nigeria photographers.
    From social to documentary and conceptual photography, young photographers have been making strong statements through their works.  
 “My work is a celebration of the mystery of the human mind and face,” Ogunbanwo declares. The Mask, he explains, epitomises this.
  However, the concept of masks is better understood in some of the modelling shots such as a lady in semi silhouette, whose face is concealed by a huge headdress. Similar to this is the recording of men in identical wears and the supposed masks depicted in balloons. It could have been an image process in photoshop or any other post-shot digital effect, but it, indeed, strengthens the artist’s concept of The Mask.
   In a thumbnail he titles Layout, comes an animating process as four shots of the male model take off from a point of bare face to gradually masking in the dark, perhaps, unavoidable blacking out of the face.
  Ogunbanwo states, “the idea is we are all one, irrespective of our individuality.”
Pink by Lakin Ogunbanwo
   CONCEPTUAL notion also comes in the contrasts of a model with the natural light, particularly in most of his outdoor shots.
   Exploring the female silhouette is one area most photographers would not resist, even though conceptual photography’s creativity has no link with indecent exposure.  Ogunbanwo is also caught in this web, as some of the images represent the nude side of modelling photography.
   However, the artist often expresses great ideas devoid of nudity. With the work, Pink, for example, exposing the female body would have been unnecessary in a composition of a female model covering her face with headdress of hair as the pink lips and background sandwiches the ebony skin.  
  PHOTOGRAPHY was not a first choice for Ogunbanwo, who has been described as a versatile artist with an eye for colours.’
   Graduating from Babcock University, Ogun State, with a degree in International Law and Diplomacy, Ogunbanwo, for the love of the lens enrolled at Speos Paris Photographic Institute in 2009, to study Photography.
  Indeed, it’s common these days for young Nigerians to take career in the creative industry after academic qualification in other disciplines. However, profesionalising in this second choice of career has always been an issue, as some of them hardly integrate into the mainstream practise. 
One of Lakin's works
   For Ogunbanwo, exposure abroad seems to have been an asset. “After years of studying in France and England, I have mastered my unique approach to photography, a meticulous approach, which is evident in my work, particularly with focus in creating iconic visuals.”
  And having been exposed to quite a number of modeling photography, he has also brought a touch of sexuality into his concept and images. “Like many of my contemporaries, I draw inspiration from both the female and male figures, from which I find meanings to life.”
   In photography, he sees himself as ‘an ambassador for the arts’; willing to work with other creative people, irrespective of tribe, sex and religion.”

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