Wednesday 13 June 2018

'Connecting the Dots' with Onadipe's exuberant art

A mixed media titled 'The Monocular' (172 x 142 cm, 2017) by Olumide Onadipe.

Recurring issues such as Identity, migration, enviromental management and globalisation are being analysed through the palette of Olumide Onadipe. An artist with exuberant deployment of re-purposed materials in creating sculptures and paintings, Onadipe places managers of resources on the spot just as he chides Africa for freely losing its dignity.

Currently showing as Connecting the Dots, at Temple Muse, Victoria Island, Lagos, Onadipe's new body of work also marks the host space's 10th anniversary as a design shop. As Onadipe herds select preview guests through his artworks mounted
alongside fashion and accessories and other related-items at Temple Muse, the five-year-old initiative of art in design space radiates a new aura in Nigeria's art appreciation vocabulary.
Courtesy of Sandra Mbanefo Obiago, the idea of showing art in design space appears to have created a new perception in visual culture appreciation and presentation, in Lagos. Supported by Veuve Clicquot, Connecting the Dots runs till August 30, 2018.

A triptych titled 'Movement Series', mounted in an imposing angle, releasing much about migration leads one's view into the world of Onadipe'a profound contemporary expression.
Between loud applications of materials
and the contents of the artist's paintings or sculptures, the competing line is quite thin. Like most artists of contemporary leanings, who are always caught between delivering a clear message and keeping materials within limit, Onadipe attempts a balance too. However, buried in the shouting materials of melted and remoulded plastic wastes are thought provoking meassages.

Another set, 'Letter Series', leaves one truly connecting the dots to appreciate the effect of being displaced within or outside refugees' homeland. In works such as 'Interlocked Man' and 'Inverted Series: We Are Not the Same But Same II', Onadipe flaunts the diversity and eclectic textures of his relief sculptures.

From his 'Seed Series', he creates a narrative of Africa as a "place for civilisation". The artist argues that "the reason why the rest of the world still need Africa is because the continent is the motherland of the earth". However, between prospects and recovering lost glory, he notes that "to a large extent, we have thrown away that identity".

As regards individual challenges of survival in an increasingly hostile socio-economic enviroment, Onadipe's 'Crossroad II' series symbolises point of reflection.  "The power of the right decision", he says, is as complex for individual as irreversible wrong choice.

As much as non-traditional art materials such as found objects or re-purposed layers have become synonymous with contemporary art, the thicker or louder makes the art, so suggests quite a number of exhibitions in recent times. For Onadipe, his approach to materials for art, he boasts, helps "improve our environment". And between creating art for critical appreciation and art devoid of using materials as escape route out of strong concept, he insists that each work of his takes its own life irrespective of the medium applies.  "Every work has it's own manifestation", Oñadipe notes.  "I could have just splashed paints on canvas" and still calls it art. He states that no matter the quality of colours on canvas, "it is the content" that counts. "Similarly, the materials I use is not a way to hide anything".

With a list of materials such as re-purposed plastic shopping bags, water sachets, juice packs, cement bags and newspapers, most times coalesce to create sculptures, the artist is on track with his alma mater, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. The institution's most recent growth in heavy material signature of seeds sowed by Prof El Anatsui are undoubtedly germinating fast. In similar traces of Anatsui, the Nigerian art circuit has also seen growing trend, for examples, in works of Nnenna Okore and Eva Obodo, among others from UNN.

Roving across recent issues that exposed common challenges across the world without touching the economy, particularly global crisis would be incomplete.  A sculptural wall piece titled 'Pyramid', which the artist discloses "was inspired by the 2008 financial meltdown" captures quite some complexity of creating and losing wealth. In fact, the recent controversial MMM, which caused so much misery to some investors and (not?) to others would not escape the artistic radar of Onadipe's 'Connecting the Dot'.
'Endangered Species' (181 x 137 cm, 2014), by Onadipe.

As an alternative space for art, Temple Muse has crept into Lagos' art circuit at a period when artistic expressions were expanding in a city that was experiencing shrinking spaces. So far, Temple Muse may not have provided the expansive space that most artists would want, but it has closed the gap between mainstream art appreciation circle and the outsiders - beyond the traditional patronage.

“In Connecting the Dots we see an artist who boldly questions the status-quo, and whose art has swept him to the very cusp of the rising tide of contemporary art coming out of Nigeria,”  Artistic Director of SMO and curator of the exhibition, Obiago says. “His expression is in-sync with the aspirations of millions of Nigerian youth trying to seek better livelihoods within a totally overburdened natural and political ecosystem.”
 Onadipe graduated with a Bachelors’ degree in painting from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 2008 and earned his Masters’ of Fine Art in 2012 from the University of Lagos. He has taken part in numerous exhibitions in the United Kingdom, Ghana, and Nigeria and is in important local and international collections.
 -Tajudeen Sowole.

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