Sunday 6 December 2015

From Divergence, Alimi distils urbanisation challenges

By Tajudeen Sowole

Victims of urban renewal, who get stranded in the process of developing a megacity attract the palette of Adewale Alimi. The artist also brings into the theme, his new forms, which he considers as a shift from the norms.

Adewale Alimi, flanked by Curator at Alara, Hana Omilani (right) and Proprietress, Reni Folawiyo during the opening.

 Alimi's canvas of subtle and conservative colours has been a familiar texture in Lagos art space, at least for nearly a decade. And as an artist with leanings towards impressionism, he comes into his ongoing solo art exhibition titled Divergent, at Alara Contemporary, Victoria Island, Lagos with what he describes as "deviation from the normal."

 More importantly, Divergence is the artist's first solo art exhibition after his Residency with a fellow artist, Adeola Balogun in Sweden, in the middle of this year. Coalesced in Divergence is the artist's experience about trending global issue of migration - from his brief European experience - and displaced victims from expansion in urbanisation.

Stressing the divergence contents of the exhibition is the artist's steps into sculpture. He argues that contemporaneity is pushing artists to expand beyond regular space. "I realised that contemporary artists need to expand, so I am including sculptures." 

 After Anonymous, a charity exhibition at Quintessence and a two-artists show (Dis)placemt with Richardson Ovbiebo at the same gallery in 2012, Divergence as Alimi's major show comes with both opportunity and challenge. The privilege is being the first artist to show at a new space, Alara Contemporary, while the task is, perhaps, his ability to fall in line with the concept of the fresh air created by Alara, an outlet for contemporary African luxury designs such as fashion, art, and food. Described by its promoters as a concept "in the spirit of 'Alárà', the Yoruba goddess of 'splendour' and 'marvel," the space confirms that indeed, there is a huge prospect in indigenous African creative contents.


Migrants, oil on convas from Alimi Adewale’s Divergence.

 Having created the works, which undoubtedly have the textures of contemporary styles, Alimi's dissemination responsibility in appropriation is on the shoulders of Hana Omilani, curator at Alara. Noting that Divergence "is the first Alara art exhibition," Omilani explains that the space is designed for African artists at home and from the Diaspora.

But as a multi-functional space, the David Adjaye architecture masterpiece comes with curatorial management of contents: Alara's choice of art shows may depend on how flexible the exhibition space would bend for specific conceptual contents. However, Alara's major asset in space is the spacious headroom, which most contemporary artists would be at home with.

 For the maiden art show, Alara explains its thoughts: "Divergence allows Alimi to subtly but bravely emerge out of the veil of restrictions and limitations of traditional mediums and find his own path to making a unique body of work. Brushed, scraped, layered and smeared, the dynamic surfaces of this series of paintings and sculptures radiate with energy."

 Excerpts from what looks like an Artist Statement, culled from Alimi's website: "Divergence spotlights Alimi´s interdisciplinary approach in integrating unique methodologies and concepts into his artistic practice. He has subtly but bravely emerged out of the veil of restrictions and limitations of traditional mediums and found his own path to making unique body of works for this exhibition.

 “Brushed, scraped, layered and smeared, the dynamic surfaces of his paintings and sculptures radiate with energy. Many of them moderately sized, and are notable not only for their size but for their physical expression of his working process. ”

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