Sunday 19 August 2012

Ojukotola… Exploring the African bond

 IF excitement and joy of a first solo art show are all an artist needs to make a strong statement and bold announcement on the scene, Bukky Ojukotola has it all with Forms In Africa.

As she took visitors round her works inside the Yusuf Grillo Gallery, Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, recently, the confidence exuded by her innocent canvas, indeed, spotlights her ambition.
Courtship by Bukky
   A trained architect but self-taught artist, Ojukotola is not your regular paint-on-canvas kind. In her exploration of what she argues to be a stronger unifying force or bond among Africans, the young artist arrives at Forms In Africa. And this, she expresses in mixed media.

 For the artist, it could not have been anything else, as mixed media is not an option, but a natural choice. Reason: “It gives me the leverage to explore my imagination that whirls with all sorts of ideas.” 

 Every young artist seeks to evolve an identity, which will grow with time. For Ojukotola, her art lexicon seems to have taken off already, modestly though, in fragile renditions seen in works such as Abike and Her Shells, Accessory, Changing Faces, Labalaba, Pot of Beads and The Mask.

And lucky her, she is coming out at a time when aesthetics is increasingly becoming relative, and material or medium has expanded artistic expression outside the traditional draughtsmanship scope.

What exactly is her mode of expression considering the new challenges offered by the aesthetic demands? 

 “I weave silk/wool mixed with other media such as beads, cowries, shells, match sticks, lacquered, glass, plastic and wood on a canvas,” she enthuses. 
AS naïve as her works appear, they are not exactly devoid of intellectual or philosophical depth, which visual arts thrive on.
The weaving, particularly of silk with other materials, Ojukotola explains, “is to celebrate the abundant beauty in motherland.”
She argues, “no matter the place of your birth or root, these art forms/materials are parts of our heritage such as masquerades, calabash, adire.”  

According to the artist, “we may differ in religion, but we are united by culture and tradition.”
To this end, Ojukotola urges cultural imperialists to open their minds “and let colours, patterns and shapes re-affirm the belief that indeed we are from a beautiful continent called Africa.”
REMINISCING on her formative years in art, she recalls how a painting by Cara Vaggio titled Taking of Christ (1602) “opened up my mind to the fact that visual arts is a powerful medium of expression.”
Bukky Ojukotola

She describes expression via art “as a reflection of different forms of emotion that the mind or heart responds to. An artist’s mood can be perceived by gazing at his or her work.” 

For a new comer, what more could she have gotten as words of encouragement; the curator of the show, Adeola Balogun notes that she shares the zeal for survival with several other up-and-coming artists who “run from pillar to pole in to order raise fund for the execution of their works and to later face a harder task of securing exhibition space.”

Balogun says she has been exploring different materials despite her forms being “playful and ingenuous, but imbued with apt stylistic expressionism which is peculiar to her.”  

Currently working in a Lagos-based firm, Ojukotola studied Architecture at the Lagos State Polytechnic.

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