Saturday 19 July 2014

Akintola makes a comeback, shares his Diary

By Tajudeen Sowole
After nearly two decades of reclusion from the local art space, painter Ademola Akintola is back, armed with experience in globetrotting across the world.

Akintola who is based in the U.K is currently in Lagos with a solo art exhibition titled The Diary of An Artist, holding from July 19 to 27, 2014 at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos.

One of Ademola Akintola’s work, Wings of Dreams

 The works, which include figural and abstract contents, highlight the artist's experience in several countries visited over during his nearly 40 years of traveling.

Not exactly a full time artist, Akiintola says he is also "a pastor in the U.K."  Nude figure titled, Holders of  Sacred Key (oil on canvas) of a white or mixed parents man reclining in front of a group of onlookers - mostly men and a woman- exposes an artist whose brush movement leans more towards impressionism. The gathering captured by Akintola, perhaps, shows one of his odd encounters while working abroad.

After his secondary school education in Nigeria, Akintola who was already an artist immediately set out to explore the art world. In fact, he couldn't wait to acquire a formal training. "I got admission to study art at Yaba College of Technology (Yabatech), Lagos, but chose to travel to Liberia to work in an advertising agency." He was so sure of himself as an emerging artist, having "been drawing and painting since the age of eight." In fact, art, he discloses, "runs in the family." Nearly all his siblings, he says “are artists, and one of them is practicing in the U.S.”

At 62, and with over seven solo, five group exhibitions and about seven residencies in Europe and the U.S, Akintola still does not think he missed any formal training after his secondary school education. "No regret not taking the Yabatech admission; “I realised that styles and skills are not something you are taught in the classroom; these are natural things you improve on as you keep painting and drawing."

Some of the 25 works he is showing in The Diary of an Artist exhibition indicate that the self-taught skill in Akintola is not restricted to expression in figural content. In fact, the walls of Terra Kulture Gallery will, most likely be dominated by abstract impressionism paintings and mixed media. Such works include Symbols (Resin on board), Dancing All Night Long and Wing of Dreams series (metal mixed media on board) as well as Flowers (acrylic on board), Roots Metal (foil relief on board), among others.

With nearly 45 years of practice, Akintola describes himself as an artist who likes "to be individual" in expression. So, he says his art is "contemporary realism.". And what about the abstract contents in his work? "My abstract form is issue-based."

Akintola does not appear like an artist perching on old glory. His last solo show, he says was in 2002, but "currently showing in Chicago in an exhibition that opened on July 18."

Sharing his experience as an artist in the Diaspora, Akintola says he had encountered "underlining racism." He recalls an example of a solo show he had at Business Centre, London in 1996 where "nearly everyone who visited liked my works." But a lady"s remark that 'we are not ready for this' worried him.  

His signature is apparently strange on the Lagos art landscape. Ironically, the artist claims that he has "been visiting Nigeria nearly every year since I left the country." However, his Diary, he hopes would "re-establish hia art in Nigeria."

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