Saturday 2 April 2022

Akintunde's strokes of futuristic car designs lift African contents

AUV (African Utility Vehicle), designed by Adedapo Paul Akintunde.

EVERY machine, car inclusive, takes off with an artist's concept before engineers mould mechanism around the design. It is not for nothing that the phrase 'state of the art' is widely applied in generic context to nearly every objects, across spheres considered as top-notch products.

For a better appreciation and understanding of car designing, artist and architect, Adedapo Paul Akintunde's exhibition of drawing and painting titled Autovista: African Vehicle Visions, which opened on March 27, at The Art Pantheon, Oniru, Lagos and currently showing till April 10, 2022 offers a rare opportunity into the depth of creativity involved in automotive designs. The exhibition also expands the scope of The Art Pantheon as a space that explores creativity beyond the regular art appreciation walls.

After studying Architecture at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), where he graduated with Distinction in Design Studio Presentation. Akintunde further studied Vehicle Design at the Royal College of Arts, London, graduating in 1994. Akintunde js currently the Managing Director of Ivixi Design Movement Ltd. 

On the ground floor of The Art Pantheon, the three set of drawings on display at the far end of the gallery create a window into what designs of automobiles look like in most designers' studios, ahead of being fabricated and moulded into functionality. Silhouetted lines, by Akintunde, in acrylics on canvas that create skeletal parts of an automobile include pieces titled AUV Exploded, Sturdio and AUV Planner, all dated 2021. The AUV part of the name, Akintunde explained, as "African Utility Vehicle", a generic identity derived from SUV.

If there are creative wall pieces that extol the virtue of lines as the basic features in fine art, such exist in Akintunde's drawings and paintings in the Vistavision exhibition. For car freaks, who like to take their passion in art collection along on the path of viewing futuristic automobile of African contents, there comes quite a number of paintings across oil on canvas and watercolour on paper. While the drawings take viewers into inner structural built of cars, heavily projected by lines, the paintings, either in acrylic or watercolour emit class and elegance. Even, the pivotal place of lines, in Akintunde's technique and styles, radiates an aura of futuristic native automobile revolution. 

Basically, designs are more appreciated when they peep into the future. This much Akintunde brings home in a painting titled African Elegance, a 2021 acrylic on canvas with '2030' inscription. And quite homely are others such as The Real Eko Atlantica, Okada Idera, Vernakula and Identica Africano. Either in designs or paintings, Akintunde's drawing and painting of automobiles amazingly challenge engineers to position Africa in the technological race towards the future.

Building cultural and social behavioural contents into a Nigerian-made car is, perhaps, a key factor in attracting indigenous sentiments and wide acceptability. For example, as 'gele' has become an integral part of most native designs for Nigerian women, the challenge of getting into a car with the headdress is common. And women don't like to go through the process of remoulding their gele —  just to get into a car  —  for fear of not getting the original style.

For Akintunde's design, such cultural content, he assured, has been taken into consideration in his design concept. In fact, he led some of the guests at the exhibition's opening to an installation outside the gallery space. It's a pseudo jeep, from the family of what he calls AUV. "With a headroom like this, women can conveniently enter the car with their gele," Akintunde boasted. Indeed, the prototype, mounted in front of The Art Pantheon has quite some features for ventilation in addition to the obvious headroom.

One of the watercolour paintings from the ongoing Autovista exhibition at The Art Pantheon. 

In general context of innovative car design, Akintunde, no doubt, has more up his sleeves. “My designs look like things already in motion,” Akintunde said. "This propulsive mindset is what drives Autovista; the movement is forwards."

On the continued expansion of its creative scope in art appreciation, The Art Pantheon stated how the exhibition brought drawings and designs in a wider vision for the automotive and creative industries in Nigeria. Curator and founder at The Art Pantheon, Nana Sonoiki boasted that Autovista is "a truly unique exhibition in Nigeria’s history,"  which brought "a space to engage with art as a catalyst for technological advancement and national progress." 

The exhibition of car designs at The Art Pantheon appears to have given a lead into expanding art appreciation by exploring more areas that art ways impact. Indeed, it is not for nothing that artists always boast that 'art is life.'  

 -Tajudeen Sowole is a Lagos-based writer on The Arts.

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