Tuesday 11 May 2021

Fragrance of ‘junk art’ from Owoyemi’s soft metal sculptures

'Oliver Twist Going Organism' (2019, soft metal , 30/20 inches), from Taiwo Owoyemi's Repousee Assemblage Sculpture technique. Pic: c/o the artist.

THE relativity of art, in creation and appreciation, has proven to be resilient against conservatism, from modern to contem- porary periods. Escalating that relativity and dynamics of art is Taiwo Owoyemi, whose art of repurposed texture also takes dual genres. 

In the last few years, Owoyemi has pushed his art to a state of generating coinage that captures his technique moulded from repurposed materials. The identity, which he christened ‘Repousee Assembled Sculpture’ (RAS) continued its journey of deodorizing the art landscape when his solo exhibition titled One Man’s Junk opened at Didi Museum, Victoria Island, Lagos on Sunday, April 9, showing till 19, 2021. 

The beauty and excitement of a crowded creative environment is to provide art connoisseurs and aficionados with as many choices as possible, even including some unthinkable and odd contents. Beyond the hypes and politics of creating art coinages to boost artists’ signatures, the prowess to create art that is detached from populism makes much difference. In his dual renditions of sculptural and assemblage, Owoyemi has so much for criritcs to bite and chew just as his junk art oozes in depth of visual scents.  

In Owyemi’s art, the medium and material such as soft metals, radicalise his stylised kind of figurative. More of interest in the figurative is Owyemi’s coalescing of contemporary themes and pseudo-primitive figures in cubism style to generate art of incendiary contents.

In search of unique signature, most artists’ adventure through the landscape of experimenta- tion yield art populated with loud materials. For Owoyemi’s art of 'repousee', the technique implored in the figurative — releasing bold cubical shapes — takes more of the attention than the soft metal materials. Indeed, his renditions confirm that creative contents should not be subdued by the loudness of materials.

Among some of such sculptures that celebrate a balance between art and materials are Soul and Liberty series as well as Oliver Twist Going Organism. In either of the sculptures, Owoyemi creates a radiation of colourful aesthetics that energise the graceful postures of the ladies captured in the themes.  

“My junks my muse arr part of my confession as a visual anthropologist,” Owoyemi said in his Artist Statement. “I confidently work with these metals and repurposed them into a cacophony of visual textures giving them values not initially envisaged.” He explained that his purpose for experimenting with discarded soft metals is to generate conversation around the context of junk.

Excerpts from Owyemi’s Artist Statement: “Apart from the trend of material exploration of waste to art, these body of work I am making is a reflection on my personal concerns about the choices we humans are making in terms of our reaction to social and psychological relations.”

Arguably the 'pioneer of art from ‘junk,’ Dilomprizulike, popularly known as The Junkman From Africa) gave Owoyemi some words of solidarity, perhaps needed, to combat conservative art warriors. Dilomprizulike encouraged Owoyemi and others who are interested in rocking the boat of conservatism to proudly accept their identity. “Allow yourself to be called names and even bullied by those hypocritical mockers and shallow king-makers when you deviate from the norms, the status quo, the “way” things are done...,” Junkman From Africa wrote in the catalogue of One Man’s Junk. “And be ready to walk the path alone because none of them is coming with you.”

Excerpts from The Junkman of Africa’s words: “Let me take you to the house of the Weaver bird, the Scavenger, the Sponge, and the Owl, who, in one contended character, venture to assemble the hi-stories of today into aesthetic forms as history for tomorrow. Here, you will encounter a pack of mirrors of commentaries of a society whose prominent attitude is to sweep their shit under their carpets, eat pepper soup on roadside gutters and live as if there is no tomorrow.

“Patinations, colours and contours here serve as embellishments from which these stories are packaged. Endeavourto see when you look, for these resultant “keyholes” of the creative process which eventually hang as art forms on the wall will not welcome the scorn of unbelievers to this course unless they understand the joy in madness which only the madman knows.”

However, within the context of art from junk, it is important to note the difference between Diplomprizulike's ideology and that of Owoyemi. While Dilopmprizulike pours out his art, raw in contents, Owoyemi's rendition comes with a tilt. Essentially, both artists are escalating contemporaneity of 21st century art.

Owoyemi described himself as “a multi-dimensional visual artist.” His bio reads: “b. January 14 of mid 80s in Ondo town, but a native of Ikere LGA in Ekiti state Nigeria. Formally trained as an artist at Adeyemi Federal University of Education and University of Benin, where he obtained B.ED 2006 and MFA 2015 respectively. 

Owoyemi is a member of society of Nigerian Artists (SNA). He has his first solo exhibition titled "Stroke n Dots" at the Hexagon entertainment center. GRA Benin City; and a second solo titled "Good News" at the National Gallery of Art Benin.

 -Tajudeen Sowole is a Lagos-based Art Advisor.


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