Sunday 18 May 2014

Bashorun's tracking of Nigeria Evolving Through Waste,

By Tajudeen Sowole      

Raqib Bashorun’s wood and metal work titled Greed

The unprecedented mismanagement of human and material resources, which Nigeria is currently going through is the thematic focus of design artist and sculptor, Raqib Bashorun.

Expressed in sculptural designs of wood, aluminium and metal, the artist's new body of work titled Evolving Through Waste, opened as an exhibition, yesterday, and ending, May 31, 2014 at Omenka Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos. The show summarises a 17-years-old journey of the artist's tracking of a wasteful nation.

Bashorun’s largely machine aided works speak to government, individuals and the society at large via the analogy of the prodigal son. From successive governments' penchants for lack of accountability and disregard for human dignity, to individuals' mismanagement of scarce resources, Bashorun's bold themes speak to a failing nation of declining values.

“We waste just about everything in this country; spiritual, material, labor, manpower, lives, energy, time, mind, money, words; the list is inexhaustible," Bashorun argues.

Such works as Frozen Promise, in wood, aluminium and glass emits aesthetics, but radiates a chilling failure of the people's inability to apply their resources in positive ways; Greed, a depiction in the metal grip of wood and aluminium explains how the people in leadership position acquire what they don't really need; and Peace Meal series, a set of works combining aluminium and stainless mounted on wood, advise self restrains.

Some of the other works in the list of 20 floor and wall exhibits include Black Gold, Cat Walk, Contemporary Charm, Ripple Bubble and Waste Gift. And in Cat Walk, which is a reenactment of runway in semi-abstract forms, Bashorun warns about inability to run away from "our challenges." The four pieces of stylised figures that appear to present a viewer with an all round perspective, indeed show that no matter which side you turn, one cannot escape the walkers. “However we may pretend, we cant run away from these problems.”

Coincidentally, Bashorun's show is coming at a time when the incompetence of the leadership of Nigeria is being exposed to the rest of the world. In fact, the headlines coming from the foreign press, in the past few weeks, were not very pleasant. For examples, 'Nigerian government irresponsible in protecting Youth, Hilary Clinton'; Jonathan leads a corrupt government, by New York Times; Jonathan is incompetent, The Economists, among other headlines from the foreign media that speak volumes of leadership failure in Nigeria.

Bashorun's Evolving Through Waste is not exactly a work coming from a later day activist. He must have been tracking his country's wasteful history for quite a long time, so suggest the list of past exhibitions that shared similar themes.

He recalls how he was "touched by our indifference to our wasteful life styles, " and started the journey as far back as 1997 with a show titled Full Moon on Waste Station. Given the current state of Nigeria, Bashorun notes that “maybe it was then just a mere child play in comparison with multiplicity of what constitute waste around us today.”

He explains that his advancing through the themes, over the decades was premised on “the gospel of cleansing all aspects of our life of this cancerous attitude.”

And to express the mission better, combining wastes materials from metal and aluminium, he argues completes “the gospel.”

Extracts from his Artist Statement reads: “I particularly loved the challenge of working with the soda can tabs considering their sizes and the quantity required to create a piece. What I enjoyed most however, was the innovative and time consuming technique of stapling them one after the other to the supporting forms. This technique gives me the confidence of durability and I hoped that over time, the anticipated changes in appearance of the staple pins if any will enhance the depth of the works. I also hoped that the dazzling visual sensation created by the nature of aluminum will draw viewers into the pieces and create a web of connection for them.”

Bashorun is an M. Ed., Art Education and MFA holder from University of Missouri- Columbia, 1998 and 2002 respectively. He was a lecturer at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos (Yabatech)’s School of Art, Design and Printing from 1986 to 2008.

He was a Visiting Assistant Professor, Fine Arts Department, University of Missouri- Columbia, in 2003.     

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