Saturday 6 October 2012

Inspiring Design… Bashorun's art for technological explosion

By Tajudeen Sowole
 Nigerian artists may have little or nothing to prove in art appreciation, but design artist, Raqib Bashorun’s solo exhibition, Inspiring Design One O Twelve draws attention to lack of functional and aesthetic presence of visual arts in the country’s quest for technological development.

Bashorun’s passion in getting artists and designers out of their complex shells informed his choice of venue for the body of work, which opened at Yusuf Grillo Gallery, Yaba College of Technology, Lagos as the exhibition ends on October 18, 2012.

Although expressed in wood, Bashorun drags designers into the mainstream fabrication industry with largely domestic-based contents, perhaps to start his design-gospel from the home front. Some of the works, which stress the designer’s argument, include Back Wind, CD Rack, Growing Up, Layback, Siamese and My Donky.

Increasing tastes for aesthetics, Bashorun noted, has placed designs at parallel with functionality of any technology. He, however, lamented that artists and designers are not making the best of the new age in technology. “In today’s technology, designs drive functionality,” he argued, as he showed his works to select guests via slides during a preview. 
Clear Concept ( Alala, mahogany, pine zebra and glass) by Raqib Bashorun.
The simplicity seen in the carving of Layback and Growing Up could have been the recommendation of a physiotherapist for an adult or under age with temporary and manageable disabilities. Also, Container and Sturdy Series offer a lesson in domestic space management. 

Really, Bashorun’s works in Inspiring Design One O Twelve appear functional, but they are not exactly to be so trusted; they are more like make-belief design pieces designed to just tantalize viewers. Isn’t that a little bit short of the purpose of the technological drive he professes? “Yes, they are not meant to be functional,” he agrees, “but to inspire professionals into the value of designs in functionality.”

In more complex piece such as Clear Concept (Alala, mahogany, pine zebra and glass), his philosophy of sharing is explicit. The works, he said, represents “the transparency in creativity.” And as Clear Concept may inspire deeper creativity in civil engineering or architecture, another piece Siamese Twins (laminated plywood and nails) revolves around industrial and domestic models, still about space management.

From his past shows such as Untamed Unframed (2006) Charged Currents (2008), and Punctuation (the outing that marked his exit from the academic), to his post-teaching sojourn, Bashorun has not stopped stressing the importance of design art in the technological development of Nigeria. In fact, his current outing, he disclosed, is first of a series “I want to be doing regularly and theme after a particular year.” Subsequently it would be ….One O Thirteen, …. One O Fourteen…” 

And having thought 3D-Design for 13 years out of his over two decades’ career, showing Inspiring Design One O Twelve in the academic environment, he stated, was a conscious effort to focus on the supposed fountain of growth. He hoped that all technology and design related departments of higher institutions such as Engineering, Architecture and others would relate with the exhibition.

He noted, “It’s a multi-purpose show, an attention-getter for the relevant authorities who are the custodians and administrators of knowledge to see the need for expanding our college programmes with a view to arming the students with knowledge relevant to the needs of our changing environment.”

Siamese, by Raqib Bashorun 2008, Laminated Plywood and Nail, 19'' x 19'' x 39''
Currently in private practice, Bashorun is extending his passion beyond his studio and the academia; he has set up a community-based medium, The Village Creative Studio in New Site, Iba, a Lagos suburb where he is sharing his skills. When he opened the studio two years ago, he had declared, “This is my contribution to the society; there is so much to release.” He assured that woodwork would be more conceptual beyond what the regular neighourhood carpenter does.

Two years after, and despite the challenges in getting his ideas across to constituted authority in Lagos, from where he hopes to use woodwork skills in empowering a growing army of unemployed youth, he had insisted, “my calling is to create no matter the dimension or the direction even when I am not sure where my creative navigator is taking me. I rely on the courage and the total trust I have in my intuition to take control.”

Between art and design, Bashorun hardly draws a line. His core art of the past, he explained, has been carried over into his design art period. “Just like my pure art, my design art is formulated with distinguished forms in mind while experimenting with new uses of old materials.”
Bashorun’s design art offers a bridge between art and science, dragging the former into factual and the latter into flexibility of creative explosion. This much could be adduced from his consciousness that “there is so much to learn, hence, I constantly question my design ability and the skill needed to fashion my thoughts.”

He noted how change  “is adorable and it is my genuine desire to log on to the 'chain of change' through my practice while at the same time, I am also challenging like minds to connect to the chain of change and provoke the eruption of fluid, indigenous design trends that we shall all be proud of.”

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