Tuesday 2 May 2023

How Ajayi, Ladipo captured art of 'Boundless Space'

'Ornament 3&4' (mixed media, 13x19 inches, 2002) by Pastor Abiodun Ladipo.

RETURN of Dr Wale Ajayi and Abiodun Ladipo to the mainstream art exhibition circuit of Lagos has refreshed the artists' creative energies.

On April 28, 2023, the artists opened their exhibition titled Boundless Space, at the top floor of Posh Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos. The exhibition displayed old strokes of masterly textures for nearly one week as the artists showed paintings and drawings from their recent oeuvres. While Ajayi showed paintings and drawings of medium sizes, Ladipo's works were mostly of small and miniature ranges.

Ajayi applied doodling on some of the works such as 'Greener Pasture' and 'Strangers in the City'. For 'Greener Pastures', the artist brought minimalist perspective into capturing the challenge of uncertainty in people seeking alternative source of survival. More interesting was the representational view in depth through the windows, from which a supposedly 'greener pasture seeker' sees the unknown future.

Clearly abstraction in technique, Ajayi's 'Strangers in the City' radiated psychological penetrations of how  humans on earth respond to diverse challenges. But the lesson in resilience comes in the artist's applications of lines from middle of the canvas to the floor, indicating the submission of material things to human control. Other works by Ajayi such as Soulmates series, including 'Alu Bata ki Da'rin', represented the role that music plays in the life of a man, mostly as therapeutic in relaxing nerves, beyond entertainment. 

For the figurative works, Ajayi celebrated princesses and royalty with equestrian attachment. In quite a number of culture, for examples, of Yorubaland and parts of the Savannah, the artist used charcoal to produce exciting mixed media pieces. The emphasis on facial identities, cultural paraphernalia, among others in the princesses are among the factors that enhance the aesthetics of the 'Princesses Series'.

"Ajayi noted that there is enough for everyone to be desired, even in the space of the unknown. He argued that whatever is revealed to an individual is what the person "consciously crave  to see."

As an exhibition that lived up to its Boundless Space theme, the show offered collections across tastes. For those whose choice of collection rests so much on the sizes of their walls, Ladipo's miniature pieces would fit such preferences. From pseudo-minimalist style to abstract representation, Ladipo showed modest paintings that captured quite some specific interests.

Among such paintings on display were 'Heaven & Earth' series 1&2, 'A Day After Tomorrow' as well as 'Abandon'. For each of the paintings, the artist rendered themes that connected people with the essence of life, beyond the material world of vanity. He further went theological in series such as Exodus and Rhapsody as well as quite other similar themes.

Apart from being specific of themes that relate to his pastoral calling, Ladipo's canvas, sometimes carried texturised quality. And in trying to stay within a modest approach to representational imageries, the artist in him still roved around aesthetically enticing paintings. "My present concept is based on my perception to create aesthetic artworks which stimulate our memory towards projecting our minds to a higher level of awareness and transformation," Ladipo explained in his Artist Statement.

Exhibiting Boundless Space, according to the curator, Bimpe Owoyemi, "gives the essence of hope and encouragement among the societal unrest faced in recent times." She described Ajayi's paintings as "liquidize technique" but with values such as being "unique, objectifying images in a liquidized state of his medium."

Dr. Ajayi has been described as a prolific painter, master, and a lecturer at the Federal University of Education, Ondo State. He attended Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, Kaduna State where he graduated in 1990 with B. A (Hons) Fine Arts. He also had a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Painting in 1998, and later a PhD., in Painting in 2015. 

Pastor Ladipo obtained an NCE in Fine Art Education in 1987 from Lagos State College of Education. He also got a BA (Hons) from Ahmadu Bello University in 1993, specializing in painting. 

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