Monday 19 February 2024

Celebrating traditional, modern carving of Adebayo at ArtMiabo

Adebisi Adebayo.

THE 2024 edition of ArtMiabo International Art Festival (AMIAF) has listed sculptor, Adebisi Adebayo, among the exhibiting artists and special recognition awardees.

Themed Sculptor's Odyssey, AMIAF 2024, which holds from April 29-May 1, 2024, at EbonyLife Place, Victoria Island Lagos also included Prof Ben Enwonwu for Posthumous Award, Pius Waritimi, Dr Adeola Balogun and Dr Dotun Popoola. However, Enwonwu is the only non-exhibiting artist among the four awardees.

Founder of AMIAF, artist and gallerist, Miabo Enyadike, described Adebayo as an artist whose work "brought a breath of fresh air to the 2022 edition of AMIAF, captivating the audience with her live carving skills." After the debut edition, Adebisi, according to Enyadike, "has carved a niche for herself," and deserved a spot in Sculptor's Odyssey gathering of great artists.

During a preview chat, Adebayo noted that the Sculptor's Odyssey Award is a rare kind in the visual arts scene in Nigeria. She was delighted for being included, as the only female sculptor to exhibit as well as to receive award. "It's uncommon to see ladies as sculptors, particularly with perception that sculpture is more difficult compared to painting."

Based in Ibadan, Oyo State, Adebayo is among the new generation of artists with Osogbo art ancestral link. She grew up watching her artist mother displayed drawing skills. Currently a full-time studio artist, Adebayo also founded Bisilade Art Gallery, a commercial space that connects her work with the general public.

For an artist whose works of ancient and pseudo-religious outlook combine modern themes, Adebayo seemed to have strong followership in West African countries where traditions mix with contemporary art. Before showing at the debut edition of AMIAF, in 2022, Adebayo has exhibited her works at group exhibitions outside Nigeria, in countries such as Ghana, Ivory Coast and Togo.

Adebayo shared her challenge experience as a lady sculptor: "The most difficult part about being a female sculptor is that people find it difficult to believe I am a female Carver." She disclosed that the gender factor, also "makes it difficult to sell my works." And delightfully, she said: "things are much better now."

Some sculptors in Nigeria who prefer the choice of metal medium always argue that availability of woods are becoming scarce and more expensive as a result of deforestation. Based on that perspective, how does Adebayo cope, still relying much on wood as a sculptor? "Well, the choice of wood is difficult due to deforestation but that has not stopped the carpenter from making chair, table and wardrobe. So as sculptor who is a carver, you just have to use what you have to get what you need as we still have good woods available. As a carver, the love and passion for the profession comes first."

 Adebayo's art forms in stylised sculpture of human representation has been observed to lean more towards what looks like religious objects. What's the inspiration behind her style and technique in creating these forms? "Well I started as an apprentice to a traditional sculptor, but over the years, I have mastered both the traditional and modern wood carving."

Quite a number of artists are applying AI while others seems suspicious of the new tech creeping into different areas of creativity. And most vulnerable is perhaps, painting. How insulated is sculpture from the fear of AI? "Well, when it comes to artificial intelligence in art, as a sculptor (wood carving in particular), the AI may have its benefits and also some disadvantages too, but to me it will never be a problem because the traditional method of making sculpture will always be relevant."

For the AMIAF 2024 edition, Adebayo said she will be sticking to her signature by showing mostly works in the mixture of both modern and traditional carving. Her works is expected to balance the mostly contemporary AMIAF space, with traditional carvings.

Born into a family of creative professionals, while growing up, Adebayo got inspiration from the drawings done by her mother, who was a singer and fashion designer. Adebayo described herself as a "traditional and modern sculptor" with specific to wood carving. She was apprenticed for five years under carver, Tairu Bankole, in lbadan. 

Apart from showing at ArtMiabo in 2022 and other West African countries, Adebayo has been rewarded with honour like Baobao Art Awards. She is a member of Sculptors Association of Nigeria (ScAN).

She has been a mentor to students from schools like Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago Iwoye, Ogun state, promoting modern and traditional wood works.

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