Sunday 13 September 2015

Dismantling Intolerance With Seeds Of Peace

By Tajudeen Sowole
A few days after the formal opening of a solo Islamic art exhibition by Ridwan Osinowo titled Seeds of Peace: The Sower and the Envoy, a spiritual calmness still pervades the National Museum gallery space to reinforce the essence of the show. The outlet, some religionists would argue, is quite 'strange' and 'forbidden' space, as it is home for keeping 'idols'.  But the liberalism of the artist, which springs from the Islamic faith that he proclaims appears to have dispelled the wrong perception and barrier that make intolerance grow. 

Some of the Seeds of Peace: The Sower and the Envoy exhibition at National Museum, Onikan, Lagos.
More importantly, creativity appears to have found a space, particularly when peace and co-existence is the focus of the exhibition. Visiting the exhibition this afternoon, a sculptural piece in vase titled Ultimate Testimony ornamented in golden calligraphic texture and a 'vessel', Divine Light also spiced in calligraphy, confirm the victory of art over intolerance of faith. With these two beautiful floor sculptures, the path for a cruise through the liberal world of Islamic art is set. In fact, Divine Light, which generates illumination from within, offers the right spiritual beam for guidance through the exhibits.

Osinowo, who has set out as a faith-based artist, has been consistent since the early stages of his career and coming into the Seed exhibition with a new technique of work in progress. Among such works are Sower's Yard and the Melting Pot Series. These set of works rendered in a fresh texture of stained-glass using mirror and gold paining add quite a feel of celestial to the entire body of work on display. Other works that expose the artist's new techniques include Ka'abah: A Place of Piece and Muhammad: Messenger of Mercy. Oshinowo describes one of his techniques: "Aluminium Composite Panel (ACP) on board, sublimation plate and sublimation printing."
The essence of the exhibition is to define a strong relationship between God and man as regards promoting peace, Osinowo explains ahead of the opening. "The Sower is Almighty God while individual members of the society are the envoys that are expected to walk the noble course."
As a painter, Osinowo asserts his skill in the landscape pieces as much as he does in the sculptural and stained glass works.  For example, Peaceful Co-existence, a rendition of ecstatic depth in landscape painting, implores as analogy of co-habitation of water and plant to challenge intolerance among humans, across races, tribes and faiths.
Though a faith-based exhibition, Seeds of Peace...brings fresh breath into the exhibition circuit of Lagos by offering a window into the creative space of the vast world of art. The artist's passion for promoting a faith-based creative enterprise goes beyond the studio commitment. Osinowo is involved in an outlet, Halal Art Gallery, through which Islamic art gets appreciation. In fact, the exhibition is organised by Halal, a modest space in Ilupeju, mainland of Lagos, with the support of Ismail Bolaji Ebiti Jama'a in Islam (IBEJI) Foundation and the Forum for Islamic Welfare and Education.

"Going by the exhibitions title, each of over 40 artworks on display symbolizes a seed of peace; the Sower is Almighty God while individual member of the society is the envoy that is expected to walk the noble course," the artist explained to select guests ahead of the opening. "Titles of the individual art pieces were mostly generated from verses of the Quran and sayings of Prophet Muhammad which form the foundation of Islam as a religion of peace." 
Osinowo had in 2006, showed in a group art n Islamic exhibition group exhibition, Extracts From the Master Artist at Didi Museum, Lagos Island. Heading for his just closed debut solo Seed of Peace, Osinowo had, in 2011 and 2013 showed at group outings Islamic art Architecture, Slide Sho and Visual Presenation, Architects Colloquium, The Architect Forum; and Islamic Arts for Peace and Unity, both in Abuja.

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