By Tajudeen Sowole
If motivational speakers and authors are making success of getting people to discover and realize their potentials, art can equally be implored, painter Tunde Olaifa’s art exhibition titled Out of the Box, which opens tomorrow, ending July 11, 2013 at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos will stress.
With his new effort, Olaifa is increasing his passion for motivational art after his last solo outing titled Against All Odds, shown in 2008.
Like the common and over flogged subject of the line between success and failure, one of Olaifa’s works, which derives its title from the central theme, argues that the road or terrain sparsely populated is where “success” resides. Taking his palette onto the surface of the beach, and capturing swimmers from the aerial view, the composite, divided by a line, shows very few people who have crossed the ‘red’ line into deeper, perhaps dangerous side of the ocean. “The bold swimmers represents most successful people”, Olaifa argues.
In other works of similar themes such as the Asiko (Time) series, which shows the artist’s great skills in landscape, dialogue is generated over the forces – seen and imaginary – that make success or failure. And in more graphical illustration, Olaifa brings in a collage kind titled It’s in You, with several gadgets competing for space in a man’s head. With a text cut from motor oil ad image inscribed ‘Unleash the full potential of your engine’, the artist’s message becomes bolder.
Having put in two and half decades of practice, which include 13 years of full time studio practice, Olaifa, who says he is currently “an educator” at Whitesands School, Lekki traces the theme of his show to what he says was inspired by “predicament of a friend who blames people for his woes”. As an artist who probably has no interest in populating the book shelves with motivational books that revolves round repetitions, his art comes in place to share his experience on the subject.
For whatever reasons that make most artists choose to be teacher, Olaifa’s concepts and aesthetics seems to suggest that his skill could be better appreciated as a full time studio artist. This much could be distilled from works such as the Asiko, Obinrin series and some of the reclining images. Teaching, he says, is a choice, “a passion”, and glad that “the organization I am working with Whitesands School also believes in developing people”.
In 2008, Olaifa marked his 20 years in art with Against All Odds, at National Museum, Onikan, Lagos. He argues that between then and now, “I keep lifting my art to a higher level”. He notes that in the past, the themes on the palette of most artists focused the environment, in such areas as markets, molue, milk maids and other common themes of that period. Shifting to motivational art, he explains, offers an opportunity to “focus on the human elements’ behavioral issues”.