The first of its kind in any Nigerian art gallery featuring exclusively contemporary welded metal artists, a group art exhibition, Ajorin; Dancemetalphor, will be showcasing 20 aesthetically pleasing metal sculptures from five outstanding Nigerian metal sculptors —Adetola Balogun, Fidelis Odogwu, Steve Ekpensi, Collins Abinoro and Dotun Popoola.
Organised by Thought Pyramid Art Centre, Norman William Street, Ikoyi, Lagos, the artists’ works are time-served and worthy of attention, according to the curator, Ovie Omatsola, at the recent media preview at Thought Pyramid Centre.
The Ajorin… exhibition is billed to start with a VIP viewing, strictly by invitation, while the general public viewing will kick off on Monday, December 7 and end on Sunday 20, 2020, at Thought Pyramid Art Centre.
Also available is a virtual reality show from 17th December to January 31, 2020 at www.ajorindancemetalphor.com. The exhibition has a window for the VIP viewing at N10,000 and general viewing N1, 000, said organisers.
This exhibition is coming against the backdrop of the misconception of metal artists being referred to as ‘welders’, a lingo for street artisans. But, in reality, metal artists “are completely undeserving of such comparison,” said the artist.
He explained further: “The inspiration of Ajorin; Dancemetalphor is a musical allegory that should not be seen as a reaction. Since we want to believe those who use aforementioned aphorisms are not stakeholders or art lovers with sufficient understanding of the creative industry, nonetheless, Ajorin; Dancemetalphor should be seen as a proactive response to purify the reputation and future of this remarkable sub-genre. In professional context, welded metal artists should be rescued from being confined into the erroneous tags of ‘regular welders’ and ‘noise’ creators.”
Ajorin; Dancemetalphor, he said, was carved out of the increasing need to show people in the local art community that only metal sculptors could create distinctive metal sculptures/arts “that are interesting and exciting, special and heavenly” and “it focuses on educating, re-orientating, and informing the public while simultaneously entertaining them.”
Sponsorship for this rare exhibition is provided by partners and supporters, including Elegance Gallery, Nigeria Machine Tools and VBank.
Dr. Adeola Balogun, one of the artists, has staged over a dozen solo exhibitions, executed several public monuments and won many awards. He has participated in several conferences and art residencies within and beyond Nigeria. He is predisposed to interrogating found-materials or discarded elements peculiar to his host community during residencies.
“My visual deliberations span a wide range of issues as diverse as politics, nature, humanity, and survival via exploration of traditional and unusual sculpture materials serving as my vehicle of interrogation in a multilayered dimension. I firmly believe that each encountered object/material, like a strand in a spider web, has its role in making my work tick. Its character informs the context, process, and technique of engagement; this could either be traditional, innovative or combined,” said the artist.
Odogwu Fidelis Eze is a prolific artist whose knowledge of metal twisting and fabrication has earned him a household name: The Prince of Metal. Some followers of his works are of the opinion that he is now The King of Metal. Fidelis is one peculiar artist who is true to himself and equally loyal to his art.
The common denominator in Steve Ekpensi’s works over the years has been the strict attention to intricate details and elegant features that lead to perfect treasures. His sculptures in all forms of the metal medium have evolved with regard to the socio-economic determining factors, because we live in an ever-changing society.
For Abinoro Akporode Collins, cutlery (spoons and forks) has constantly been a medium he experimented for eight years. With it, he has achieved unimaginable sculptures clearly depicting mind blowing forms and details in his work yet twisting his subjects to engage issues in his environment.
He draws inspiration from his environment, depicting these experiences with his sculptures rendered in stainless steel cutlery, fire glass and bronze. His art is a mixture of both classical, highly conceptualised and repurposed materials.
The fifth artist, Dotun Popoola, is a synergetic metal sculptor who has carved a niche for himself with his monumental metal sculptures. He said: “My artistic practice is based on a personal philosophy that art should be explored as an agent of change, and as a tool of social review, reengineering, and protest against environmental decadence.”