|'Ghetto Phase II' (paper, acrylic, gloss paint, fabric, pastel, 227x187 cm, dated 2021), by Yakubu Kareem.|
IN the strokes of young Yakubu Kareem a 19th century art movement known as impressionism is being celebrated as the artist creates aesthetics out disorganised urban slums.
Yakubu's style celebrates the one and half century old art movement in his debut solo exhibition titled Ghetto Impressions, opening September 23, 2023 at Signature Beyond Art Gallery, 107, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos. The artist highlights environmental issues and survival mentality of urban dwellers.
Yakubu explained that the exhibition features body of work that stresses the essence of his unique perspective, forged through the lens of his encounters with the world.
In his Artist Statement, Yakubu disclosed that "Subconsciously" he has been drawn to the portrayal of female figures, which has broadened his skills. "As I spend a significant portion of my life in the company of women, I am naturally inclined to admire and closely study the intricacies of their bodies – their diverse shapes, forms, and complexions."
Statement from Signature Beyond Art Gallery: "Yakubu Kareem’s artistic journey is an exploration of the profound intersection between simplicity and greatness. His pursuit of these twin ideals has not only shaped his creative path but has also led him to adopt a distinctive approach that captivates the essence of urban life.
"'Ghetto Impressions’ is a testament to Kareem’s unwavering commitment to this unique artistic pursuit. Through his lens, we are offered a glimpse into the captivating world of marginalized neighborhoods, where the relentless struggle for survival converges with the beauty of simplicity and resilience. Kareem’s work embodies the belief that art has the power to transcend the ordinary, to reveal the extraordinary within the mundane.
"As we embark on this visual journey through ‘Ghetto Impressions,’ we are invited to witness the interplay of survival, identity, and the unwavering human spirit. It is a collection that challenges preconceived notions, evokes profound emotions, and ignites a sense of wonder at the transformative potential of art.
"Kareem’s unique approach beckons us to appreciate the raw beauty and authenticity of the urban landscapes he portrays, reminding us that greatness often resides in the simplest of moments."
Under the heading 'Ghetto Impressions: Reflections on Ghetto Life', Kareem dosclosed that his artistic journey has led me to explore the gritty and resilient world of Ghetto life, particularly in the marginalized neighborhoods of Lagos. Excerpts: "This exploration delves into the intricate inteplay between survival, adaptation, and the physical environment that shapes these communities. Through my work, I aim to capture the essence of these areas, portraying the stark contrast between the haphazardly constructed buildings, the maze-like alleyways, and the chaotic arrangement of electric poles that characterize these Ghetto spaces. I also seek to document the vibrant market scenes that pulse with life, depicting the resourcefulness and tenacity of the people who call these neighborhoods home.
"At the heart of my artistic inquiry lies a profound examination of the relentless struggle for survival that perpetuates a sense of disarray in these “ghetto-like areas.” This continuous fight for existence has molded these communities into a state of perpetual ambiguity, where a delicate balance between aspirations of a more westernized life and the embrace of their cultural identity teeter on the edge of reality.
"In my artistic expressions, I hope to shed light on the enduring spirit of these Ghetto spaces, while also inviting viewers to ponder the universal themes of resilience, identity, and the indomitable human will to thrive against all odds."
Kareem, b. 1996, is anative of Edo State, Nigeria, but raised in the country's commercial nerve centre and art hub, Lagos. He received his primary and secondary education in Lagos, which provided the foundation for his artistic journey. Yakubu later pursued his National Diploma in General Arts at Auchi Polytechnic, located in Edo State.
Kareem’s artistic creations are characterized by a unique utilization of materialism, approached in an expressive manner that results in the formation of abstract works of art. Throughout his relatively brief yet dynamic career, he has cultivated a spontaneous and eclectic approach to each artistic endeavor, imbuing each of his creations with a distinct and individualistic character.
Currently, Kareem continues to practice and contribute to the world of art from his base in Lagos, where he draws inspiration from the vibrant surroundings and diverse culture of this dynamic city.