Saturday 5 March 2022

'Essential Jimo Akolo' as modern art intervention in Lagos

A section of 'Essential Jimo kó  Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos. 

AURA of art in its raw and deliberate form radiates during a visit to the solo art exhibition The Essential Jimo Akolo A Retrospective of Drawings and Paintings, showing till March 12, 2022, at kó Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos.

It's a quite afternoon, a week after the formal opening of the Akolo retrospective art that spans over five decades. Most of the works on display, for the first time, in a long while; some of them never-seen-before in the public. Akolo, one of Nigeria's second generation modernists and former student at Nigeria College of Art, Science and Technology (1957-1961), Zaria, is also not in the prolific realm, just as his art is not common in the exhibition circuit.

Visiting The Essential Jimo Akolo A Retrospective of Drawings and Paintings brings a relief for modern art-starved exhibition space of Lagos. While the energies of contemporary contents have been boisterous in Lagos, in the past few years, the ongoing Akolo modern art texture generates a rich and balance art appreciation atmosphere in the heart of Nigeria's art hub city.

From the artist's skill that is unpretentious in applying the basic colours, to his drawings of energetic depth, Akolo strengthens the conservative art appreciation space of Lagos. His skill in subtle application of lines to create bold expressions links ancient, modern and contemporary forms. Among such pieces on display are The God of Thunder (oil on canvas, , 59x39 in.; 1964), Boro Dance (oil on canvas, 32 X 48 in., 1977), Owambe (oil on canvas, 40x30 in., 2013); and quite a number of drawings in either charcoal or pencil on paper. 

Most significant in Akolo's painting is consistency of identity, in which his style, specifically, in brush movements on canvas, sustains the artist's technique in toning. Yes, his works have not been so visible in the exhibition circuit, but the current retrospective gives a single window in understanding the trajectory of his art, in post-training career of six decades.

Akolo's major public space artworks include a large three-piece mural commission at the Northern Nigeria House of Assembly, June 1961 to March 1962. As regards exhibition, he had a solo, sponsored by the Commonwealth Institute London in 1964, and the Northern Nigeria Self-government Celebration Exhibition, in 1959.

kó Gallery noted that Akolo has not enjoyed the exposure, visibility, and representation that is commensurate with his artistic career, in comparison with some of his colleagues. Dr Bruce Onobrakpeya, Yusuf Grillo, Demas Nwoko, Uche Okeke, among others are Akolo's contemporaries. "As such, this exhibition project aims to reveal Jimo Akolo’s artistic engagements with a fair representative number of his drawings and paintings from his collection and loaned works from some of his collectors," kó Gallery explained.

 -Tajudeen Sowole.



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