Sunday 4 October 2015

At 60, Bashorun is 'Evolving in 360'

By Tajudeen Sowole
Describing sculptor, Raqib Bashorun's new body of work as germination of assertiveness - the seeds of which have been sowed over the decades by the artist - opens a debate over appropriation of a long artistic journey. 

Wing Knot (2012, 5 panels) by Raqib Bashorun.

Just shown as Evolving in 360, a solo exhibition that marked the artist's 60th birthday, the works on display at Omenka Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos, on this quiet afternoon - few days after the formal opening - expand Bashorun's scope in design. If anyone likes to fish in the complex waters of Nigerian contemporary visual space, Bashorun's walls and floor appears deep enough to immerse intellectual nets.  

Covertly, there seems to be a blurring line between the functionality and aesthetics of some of the floor sculptures. And also, given the imposing numerical strength of the wall sculptures over few of the floor pieces, Evolving in 360 could be viewed through the window of the artist's claim that "design is my consideration." 

In metal such as stainless steel, aluminium, brass and wood,  Bashorun's sculptural rendition of non-figural, perhaps abstract themes to a large extent, implores the natural texture of the materials to germinate colourful pieces. For example, as few as the floor sculptures are, they attract the attention of the visitor faster than a view goes across the walls. In combined design and functional values, the chairs and what appear like centre tables prepare one for the depth of energy ahead, touring the modest space of Omenka Gallery.

A reminder of common behavioural pattern among artists, about visually harassing viewers with large canvas, is Pale Ghost, a spread mounted on the left walls of the gallery. The more intimidating the work radiates in size, the more something hypnotises an attention.  Most times, large works on walls of galleries in Lagos lack contextual depth, but this afternoon, Bashorun's Pale Ghost of diverse hues of natural tones in pieces of woods generate a depth of aesthetics, making it a departure from the crowd of 'large is art' mentality.

The depth of Bashorun's design has no fear for any medium, including steel and metal, so suggest the works mounted on the walls of the inner room and the immediate entrance as well as pedestal-lifted ones in the gallery. From flowery or fan-blade shape pieces in stainless steel and brass, Quintessential Romance; similar fan-blades sprinkled on top of a megaphone-shape, Whisle Blower; to another oval-shaped in natural metal look and spots of yellow as Rubric of Time; and an oval-shaped, Wing Knot, loaded with designs in woods depicting a metallic instrument, Bashorun, again, asserts his artistic dexterity in a Lagos art space that is not exactly contemporary.

In his Artist Statement, Bashorun explains the central theme. He recalls how getting out of "decades of self consciously created comfort artistic zone," and being adventurous in originality has been a priority over staying in someone else's shadow.

Excerpts from his statement: My early childhood witnessed mountains of creative involvement in all the arts.
During that period, I painted in oil and water colors, drew in pencil and pastel, sculpted in clay, carved in coconut shell and cow horn, tie dyed and painted on fabrics, weaved with cane and raffia, played the drums and harmonica, and performed at a TV station. Since my childhood, I have always been an avid lover of making things with my hands. Connecting back to that period, this moment for me represents a renewal and emergence of new creative dream.

The currents of events in my life impose experiences of ups and downs which have direct bearings on my work. Despite the nature of the inspiration leading to the creation of these works, I continue to focus on the anticipated meaningful light at the end of the tunnel, at a time when my studio truly represent the very best space in my life. Needless to emphasis how personally satisfying, the opportunity to share my creative thoughts with people on the current full circle scale.Most of the works featuring at this exhibition began with a theme that I found compelling or a more concrete, obvious source of inspiration.

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