Wednesday 3 January 2024

In Lagos, Badejo's 'Times and Places' celebrates habitat naturalism

' City Colour II' (acrylic on canvas, 150 X 120 cm, dated 2023) by Abiodun Badejo. 

IN an era when bold figurative paintings of darkened subjects are the attraction for quite a number of artists, others like Abiodun Badejo stick to their identity. Badejo's solo art exhibition titled Times and Places, shown from December 3-8, 2023, at Gemini Art Gallery, Onikan, Lagos asserted the artist's enduring signature in streetscape and landscape themes.

For Badejo, his art philosophy is based on being self-discovery, stating that  "my Art is me and i am my Art, i do my Art and pass my messages the way my inner eyes see it, and that is what has given me my identity." The Times and Places  exhibition, was a celebration of the natural and man-made  environments on which people survive. Organised by Legacy Empire Gallery, which has been promoting Nigerian and other African artists in the past years, Times and Places also expanded the promoter's net in Africa's art market space.

After tracking shows organised by the Emenike-led gallery for many years, Badejo later met Legacy Empire early in 2023, "through referral, after attending many shows he had sponsored." Badejo has been painting landscape and streetscape for as long as his career took off nearly two decades ago. His love for landscape, he said makes him creat stories and also helps to advance what he described as "creative ingenuity." He noted that "landscape painting comprises of all other forms such as figurative, still life and nature." He argued that being a landscape artist, "i see myself as a complete painter."

Badejo's Times and Places was not a first time for Legacy Empire. In fact, the gallery, according to Emenike, has shown Nigerian artists in the country and diaspora. It should be recalled that in 2018, Legacy showed Olawunmi Banjo at Nike Gallery, Lekki, Lagos.  The gallery went further and showed the same artist, in Berlin in 2018. The Berlin show, Emenike said, "was a wonderful experience to see how the German art lovers took a closer look at Olawunmi Banjo's artworks and indeed commended her for the use of Pallet knife technique."

Founder of Legacy Empire, Henry Emenike disclosed that he has no regret so far. "I have had a wonderful experience so far, because my passion for art knows no bounds, especially when it comes to abstract art," he shared his work experience.  "It's nice to see the artist grow and be recognized through his creativity." Emenike described Badejo as an artist whose "exceptional creatives are absolutely unapologetic when it comes to using color combinations in completing his artwork." 

As much as selling art online is becoming a big business worldwide, the fragility of falling into the the trap of faked art is worrisome for collectors. 

How does Legacy handle collectors who are sceptical of buying art virtually for fear of faked or low quality artworks? "I personally give them the assurance of honesty, because a good name is better than money," Emenike boasted. Perhaps, opening a physical art gallery is a future plan for Legacy Empire in Lagos, given the growing number of new facilities in the city. "I can't say that at the moment," Emenike said cautiously. "I would rather continue to support serious artists by not hesitating to invest further in the art market, especially in Nigeria."

One of the new generation curators, Mathew Oyedele captured Badejo's thoughts of Times and Places:  "In art, there is a sensitive interplay between the past and the present, between the distant corners of the world and the intimate spaces that define our lives," Oyedele said. "This exhibition is a tribute to this constant interplay, an exploration of the profound correlation between the moments and places that shape our existence." The curator noted that Times and Places invites art enthusiasts on a journey through the artist's evocative interpretation of the human experience. Oyedele explained that each canvas brings contents such as being  "a time capsule, a fragment of history, and a glimpse of the soul's journey."

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