Wednesday 25 December 2013

Akeem Balogun… an expressive artist gone too soon

By Kehinde Adepegba
On Wednesday October 30, 2013, Akeem Alani Balogun (1960-2013), a prominent Nigerian visual artist bided the world goodbye. This sad occurrence took place in in far-away India, where he had been flown two weeks earlier for surgery on a heart-related ailment.
Akeem Balogun (October 8, 1960-October 30, 2013) 

Until his death Balogun was a Principal Lecturer in the Department of Art and Industrial Design, Lagos State Polytechnic. His burial, which was in accordance with Muslim rites on Saturday November 3, 2013, was witnessed by hundreds of sympathizers who came from all walks of life to pay their last respects at the Muslim burial ground in Ikorodu.

The news of Balogun’s death was shocking and devastating to the Polytechnic and the visual art communities where he belonged as a perceptive art teacher and practising artist respectively. Friends, family members, staff of Lagos State Polytechnic and professional colleagues of Akeem Balogun have since been posting their various comments on Facebook. Stephen Folaranmi of the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife on behalf of the department and Mufu Onifade of National Gallery of Art, Abuja on behalf of the visual art community issued official statements on Thursday October 31, 2013 on the news of Balogun’ death and the vacuum that would be created by his untimely departure.
 Balogun, 53, was born on October 8, 1960. He started his art career at the Federal College of Education, Kotangora in 1982, where he obtained his National Certificate of Education (NCE) in 1985. He proceeded to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria between 1985-1988 for his BA degree in Fine Arts, specialising in painting and Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife between 2003-2007 for his Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. His Doctorate degree at Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, which was focused on Aesthetics in Yoruba Art, was still on before his death.

Balogun began his teaching career at Lagos State Polytechnic in 1992 as Lecturer III in the Department of Art and Design (now Art and Industrial Design), where he has proven his mettle as an astute art teacher and art administrator.  Balogun had served as Head of Department on more than two occasions and has also served in many committees in the School of Environmental Studies and in the Polytechnic at large. During his first tenure as Head of the Department, he did all in his power to ensure an increase in students’ enrolment to the Department by organising and financing art seminars in secondary schools in Ikorodu and its environs. The Department is still reaping from this selfless labour.

As an artist, Balogun was popular for his expressive style of painting. He was one of very few artists who formed the habit of carrying sketchpads wherever they go. Through this routine, he left many drawings to his credit. He often demonstrated his lessons to his class. He had staged a couple of solo exhibitions and had taken part in many group art shows and has executed a number of private and public art projects. He was full member of Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA) Lagos chapter, which he served as an executive member and in its various committees. As a scholar, he had contributed to journals and other publications on the practice and theory of art. He was a recipient of many awards for his visual art practice and leadership in the art sector.
   The Department of Art and Industrial Design has lost a strong member and the Polytechnic did not only lose a staff, it has lost an elected representative of the Congress to the Academic Board. We will remember him for his simplicity, humility and generosity. He taught us the virtues of hard work and dedication to service. He was quick to encourage and advice. He was always willing to share his experience and knowledge. He wanted everyone around him to enjoy whatever he found to be good. It must be noted that he did not joke with his prayers as a Muslim faithful.
  Family members, friends, associates, Lagos State Polytechnic staff and the visual art community members with whom he had lived a humble and exemplary life will fondly remember Akeem Balogun who was survived by wife and children. May God grant his family the fortitude to bear this great loss and may his soul rest in peace. Farewell Akeem.
 Kehinde Adepegba is of the Department of Art and Industrial Design, Lagos State Polytechnic Ikorodu.

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