Saturday 1 November 2014

Going for true liberation, Banjo kick-starts Mind Revolution

By Tajudeen Sowole

If innovation begins with thoughts, the importance of the thinker is crucial, so suggests a new body of work by Olawunmi Banjo, which beams creative searchlight on Africa's quest for a true liberation.

Titled Mind Revolution, Banjo's thoughts, expressed in a solo art exhibition, which opens at Nike Art Centre, Lekki, Lagos today, ending November 7, 2014 speak to the Africans via portraiture and surreal images rendered in paintings. The exhibition, technically, strengthens Banjo's identity of conceptual communication through portraits.

A painting, Choice of Freedom III (Oil on Canvas)  from Olawunmi Banjo’s Mind Revolution

A quiet artist, who in the past ten years has built her career through several group art exhibitions and fulltime studio practice, Banjo, currently being managed by Legacy Empire Management, tests the waters of Lagos art scene proper as she makes her debut solo art show in images of incendiary volume.  

Though in mostly of children and young adults depictions, some of the works such as Mind Influence, Illumine Series, Hidden Potentials, Conforter and Conscious Break also appear like the motivational lead that Africans across ages need to rescue the future from the current state of despair.

Ahead of the opening of Mind Revolution, Banjo stated that the body of work "is tailored to re-orientate the mindsets of our people towards progressiveness, and how creative minds and ideas in Nigeria and Africa at large can be empowered. She argued: "If people start to develop the initiative of thought to invest adequately in creative mind resources and ideas, then attention will be a bit deviated from focusing mainly on natural resources."

Consistently focusing on mind or psycho-related subjects, one of Banjo’s last outings, a group exhibition titled Colours and Creativity reminds one of the artist’s painting Wired Mind exhibited two years ago. Between then and now, Banjo’s fluidity in the draughtsmanship skill appears to have been stepped up drastically. And from the viewing of works for Mind Revolution via a pdf soft copy of the images, the pronounced and sometimes eye-popping earth colour for the skin, which charaterised her canvas in the past now gets a toning down.

As a painter of conceptual contents, Banjo has, with Mind Revolution shown that art can carry issue-based themes alongside aesthetics and other creative values. But the artist is more passionate about the message. "From my observation as an artist, I have discovered that many creative talents are discouraged and frustrated in attaining their creative potential due to the lack of adequate structures and sufficient support.”

And thought for leadership as she advised Africa to fast track its exit from the status of the largest consumer of global innovations in the twenty first century. The people’s idea, she argued, “should be part of the global market and contribute relevant innovations in world consumption.” Banjo stressed that “many intellectuals and creative minds have left the continent just as more are still leaving,” in a situation she described as “lack of appreciation of their creativity at home.”  But such ‘runaways,’ she argued, are adding enormous value to other continents’ development. She hoped that Mind Revolution, will make people see that “we are more than a consuming continent, particularly when we stop focusing mainly on natural resources and channel our mental productivity towards creative ideas and innovations that are globally relevant—which is very possible to achieve.”

Specifically, her areas of focus in the exhibition include “Self- awareness, self-acceptance, self-appreciation, self-support along with love for our own, needs to be engraved deep in our hearts.”

Banjo picked the 2nd prize at The Experience Nigeria 2008 Art competition, organized by A.A.R.C. Titled "Nigerians at work. Some of her group exhibitions included Canopy” By Conoco Philips at the Nike Art Gallery. Lekki,  Lagos; 5th International All Female Art Exhibition “Colours & Creativity” at the National Museum, Onikan-Lagos. 201; Exhibited and organized the female section of the Send forth Exhibition for the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Dr. Robin Renee Sanders at the Nike Art Gallery. Lekki Lagos. 2010; Interpreted the logo for 50 @ 50: Nigerian Women, the Journey so far, organized by the first Lady's Women for change Initiative. Abuja. 2010; Ikoyi Club 1938, Golf Section “Art of Golf”. Organized by A.A.R.C. 2009; 2nd Annual Art Exhibition “Fyne ArtDiction” , Southern Sun Hotel Ikoyi, Lagos. 2009; Championship Cup, Ikoyi Club 1938, Golf Section. Ikoyi, Lagos. 2009; andFadan Fashion show and competition, Lagos Civic Centre. 2009; The 17th Annual Experience Nigeria 2008 Art show and Art competition “Nigerian(s) At Work” By (A.A.R.C) African Art Resource Center, National Museum, Onikan, Lagos; Exhibited at The Nigerian Cup” Golf Tournament, Ikoyi Club 1938, Golf Section. 2008; and The first Annual Art Exhibition ITA Foundation “Serendipity” at the Didi Museum. Victoria Island, Lagos. 2008.

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