Sunday 3 May 2015

A Fringe of Amoda's sculptural dexterity

By Tajudeen Sowole
Drawings, paintings and nearly all other medium, which are hardly synonymous with metal sculpture, are dragged into Fringe, a solo art exhibition by sculptor, Olu Amoda shown few weeks ago at Art21, Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Amoda's Fringe, his second solo at the two year-old Art21 was more like the artist's oeuvre, particularly in the area of extended reuse of discarded objects. Also of dazzling emit was the sculptor’s effort at collapsing or blurring the line between sculpture and soft base art such as painting and drawing.

For Your Selfies, a sculpture by Olu Amoda

In Fringe, Amoda takes cotemporaneity wholly; themes and materials as seen, for example, in For Your Selfies. Self taken snap shots otherwise known as 'selfies' in 21st century technology-enhanced  social media space is depicted by Amoda in a sea of sculptured camera lenses lined in three walls to form a creative depth. The work probes what is an emerging spiritual attachment that appears to be griping users of digital devices, across class of society. Adding a composite texture to the work is a seated figure that brings back the memory of the old analogue typewriter. Quite elegant though, but perhaps sarcastic to have an old analogue typewriter as a laptop placed centrally to enhance the depth of the entire composition. But the prominence of camera lenses as a central object that represent photography context of the work appears to stress that snap shot from camera phone may never be a challenger to professional photography in the future.

In a space such as Caline Chagoury-led Art 21 - the first of its kind in contemporary art of Nigeria - scale is as crucial as the feel of exhibition's theme. This much, Amoda takes full advantage in NSA Column and Balls (2013), an installation about the world of espionage and communication. About 37 balls in repurposed steels spread across the floor and as wall hangings, mounted at the extreme end of the hall stress a creative depth of Fringe's curatorial contents.

As old as the rudiment of creating art is, its resilience, even in the towering period of contemporaneity, keeps floating in some of Amoda's metal pieces, so explains Wit Series I, II and III. Not much for the nudity of the Wit series that the artist 'celebrates' - perhaps as his idea of female virtue to laud or flaunts - but the skills in using repurposed chain welded to create drawing on marine wood.

As the only visitor to Fringe, on a mid-day when crowd and second person opinion or influence was absence, I thought one of the artist's Sunflower series, a wall sculpture, would be the star of the exhibition. Perhaps, another sculpture, Holy Communion would have been my Critic's Choice, but the floor placement appears like a diminish of the aesthetics effect and value hidden in the work. In welded stainless steel of cups, the work again asserts Amoda's relentless adventure in repurposed materials.
Coincidentally, Fringe showed at the same period that Art2 had a booth at Art Dubai Contemporary, Jumeirah Medina, UAE, which had the works of  Amoda and Benenoise, Gerard Quennum on display. The strength of Amoda's Sunflower Series was celebrated at Art Dubai as the work was one of the spots of attraction. In fact, the spoon contents was described as having a meaning in Arabic culture.
In 2013, Amoda's solo art exhibition Cequel II: a Shifting of a Few Poles formally opened Art21. The show was like an overdose of contents that flooded nearly all the floor and walls. Between then and now, quite a more liberal ventilation has been built into the curatorial approach.

Art Twenty One presented the panel discussion entitled "New Tendencies in Contemporary Sculpture," in conjunction with Olu Amoda's exhibition Fringe, on April 8, 2015.
For Fringe, it was beyond viewing of works as a discussion section added to the intellectual depth.  Scheduled for the event as panelists included Oliver Enwonwu, Tam Fiofori, Taiye Idahor and Victor Ehikhanemor, under the anchor by Joseph Gergel. Art21 said “the discussion explored the history and evolution of sculpture in contemporary art in Nigeria, using Amoda's artistic practice as a catalyst to examine issues of materiality in artistic practice.

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