Saturday 19 March 2022

In Otoki's 'This Land Is Not For Sale', nature blossoms on canvas

Moment of Glory At Epe Lagoon (oil on canvas, 154 x 201 cm, dated 2021) by Olufemi Otoki.

WHEN Oluwafemi Otoki opens his solo art exhibition titled This Land Is Not For Sale, from today, Saturday, March 19-28, 2022 at Signature Beyond Art Gallery, 107, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, a great depth in streetscape, landscape and skyline paintings takes poetic texture.

Otoki, b.1968, is a 1992 Higher National Diploma (HND)-trained artist from Yaba College of Technology who majored in Painting, and has been consistent with his brushing on the footprint of documenting the environment. With less than 20 paintings on display for This Land Is Not For Sale, Otoki's style and technique in capturing the innocence of nature create awesomeness on canvas.

Otoki stated that his art represents his voice, with one mission: "to document as many as possible scenery of the natural world around me for posterity." There seems to be a spiritual perspective to his mission. "Nature speaks to me and I believe there is a lot to explore, discover and learn from it." He explained that he does in a way, "working hard to create paintings that speak to me and others about the beauty that exists in and around us." His inspiration, he disclosed "comes from God."

Among his works for the exhibition are blends of old towns with tranquility of the forest as well as the serenity of coastal skylines.

"Vamping through retrospection, particularly from 20th century art; through the concave of the rebellion of Babyzon artist, the impressionists movement, to the post-impressionists and even the Fauvists movements, art has never been more expressive based on manner of technical rendition," Otoki's colleague and Art Diplomat, Ike, Chiemezie Gerald wrote in the Foreword of the exhibition catalogue. "Notwithstanding the aforementioned approaches and manner in artistic revolution, and from the manifestos of such movements, we can presume that the standard conforms with Plato’s theory of Mimesis and fit into the representational category of art." 

Excerpts from Oluwafemi Otoki's bio: Otoki is an indigene of Ekiti State was born in Lagos on 20th April, 1968. He attended the famous Igbobi College, Yaba, Lagos for his secondary school education and then proceeded to the renowned Yaba College of Technology where he obtained the Ordinary National Diploma (OND) and Higher National Diploma (HND)Painting in 1987 and 1992 respectively.

He started his career by painting figurative works but was soon drawn to landscape paintings as he became more appreciative of his environment and its beautiful colours. Nature changed him, energised him and inspired him to document all he had observed on canvas. He initially Focused on painting miniature landscape works and the gradually developed his technique to create larger works

To aid his need to express his observations on Larger canvasses, he travelled more extensively to rural communities in Nigeria - studying, sketching and Painting landscapes. He paints vivid and expansive depictions of natural scenery found in the South-west states of Nigeria, particularly Ekiti and Ondo.

His Paintings give the viewer the impression one is looking out of the window to observe the natural landscape. He has executed several commissioned works including a mural for Deola Sagoe’s Fashion House in Victoria Island, Lagos (2007). He has participated in several exhibitions such as “CHOGM” exhibition in Abuja to commemorate the Commonwealth Heads of State Meeting (2003), “”Dance of the Mask” in the United Kingdom (2004), “Afinity” INDEX’s third annual exhibition at Terra Kulture Art Centre, Lagos (2005).

In 2010, he painted portraits of the Military Administrator of Adamawa state, Air Vice Marshall Gregory Agboneni, the secretary general of the NYSC (National Youth Services Corps) and he also executed a commissioned work for the NYSC secretariat in Yola. He was presented with the Adamawa State Government award for exemplary services by the Government and people of Adamawa State,Northern Nigeria in 1994. In 2003, he received a certificate of achievement from the Ohio State University for completion of the International Art and Culture Summer Workshop.

He belongs to several professional bodies such as Society of Nigeria Artist and Te Creative Chambers.

Oluwafemi believes there is a lot to explore. discover and learn from nature. His greatest aspiration is to be one of the foremost landscape painters in the world and project a positive image of the African artist globally.

 Among Otoki's exhibitions are Flower Blossom (1992), Happenings of Our Time at Russian Cultural Centre, Lagos (1992), Family Ties at National Museum Lagos (1996), Trade Wind of Our Time Leventis Foundation (1998), Millstones at National Theatre Lagos (2002) and Strokes of Peace, Life Strokes Art Gallery Ikoyi Lagos (2003). 

 Others include Some Names at Nimbus Art Centre, sponsored by British Council Nigeria (2004), Beyond Forms 2nd Index Exhibition held at Pendulum Art Gallery Lekki Lagos (2004), Landscape and Beyond held at Mydrim Gallery Lagos (2021) and showed in many Sogal Art Auctions till date.

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