BY HENRY AKUBUIRO
When Oladele Ogbeyemi and Ibiok separately have their individual solo exhibitions in a single space this week, the artists will be making a historical entry into the Nigerian art scene.
The two exhibitions, which come with distinct features within different genres, are organised by Signature Beyond Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos. Ogbeyemi’s exhibition of welded-metal, Ark Meta Art, and Ibiok’s paintings, themed Talkless Talk, are showing from May 22-June 12, 2021, at Signature Beyond Gallery.
“This should not be mistaken for a two-artist exhibition,” curator at Signature, Rahman Akar, clarified. “It’s two separate exhibitions, each by Ogbeyemi and Ibiok, showing at the same time and in one gallery here at Signature Beyond.” Akar likened the innovation of showing two exhibitions of different artists in one space to the cinema culture of films of not the same titles showing on as many screens as a cinema can take.
Speaking on the artists, Akar, whose Signature Beyond Gallery has shown more than two generations of Nigerian artists in the past 30 years, disclosed that the two exhibitions were generated based on the unique features of the artists. He described Ogbeyemi as an artist whose compassion for other people has enriched his art, while Ibiok, he said, was arguably one of the most gifted and prolific painters in Nigeria currently.
On Ogbeyemi’s Ark Meta Art, Akar predicted that the artist’s three works, among many others, would be the centre of attraction during the exhibition. A life-size car turned into an art piece, depictions of a dinosaur and a crocodile, are the three highlights of Ogbeyemi’s Ark Meta Art. Even among the three sculptures, the car, Akar said, was the only one with no price tag. “The car is going for the highest bidder,” Akar disclosed. “The car has been attracting attention wherever the artist went with it, pulling so much crowd,” Akar said of what he described as the artist’s conversion of an automobile into a hybrid art piece. “The attraction is beyond comprehension as the inside of the car is stripped totally except for the gear and the hand-brake.”
Ogbeyemi has worked with three of the top welded-metal artists in Nigeria such as Fidelis Odogwu, Steve Ekpenisi and Dotun Popoola. “We sold some of Ogbeyemi’s works in our past auctions,” the curator and organiser of Sogal Art auction, testified to the commercial viability and critical values of the artist’s works. Sogal is Signature Beyond’s organised yearly art auction.
What’s the need of showing two artists of different exhibitions in one gallery at the same period? “I don’t see any rule against showing two artists in different exhibitions at the same time,” Akar argued. “The other reason I have him in this show is because he always puts other people’s interests before his,” Akar stated, noting that not many artists have such a broad mind.
“I have come to understand that everybody is a victim or disposal of waste, and waste is the material that the user feels has no further use,” Ogbeyemi stated. “Discarded objects have always constituted a nuisance in our environment, which I chose to explore as a medium, recycle them to create my work of art, and reduce waste and environmental pollution.” The artist in him, he explained, was always attracted to the wastes generated from his environment of which he got the reason for being on earth in the first place. “My existence is to explore and create art from waste to harness my experimental appearance as well as contextualising metal assemblage to create sculptures out of nothing to something which would also serve as documentation and beautification from my aesthetic view.”
Excerpts from Ogbeyemi’s Artist Statement read: “As an artist, I need to use my creative talent to solve the environmental problem in my environment by recycling discarded material into colorful sculptural pieces, educating people, and harnessing the economic potentials of waste.
“I have moved further into research on waste materials and also recycled trash, and discarded items in my immediate environment, roadside, mechanic village, and ‘Bolla’ generally known as discarded junk area market, refuse dump, as well as reduce health hazard, clement change, promote healthy atmosphere and a safer environment.
“Working with my father in his mechanical workshop as a young child, I would say is one of the things that influenced me to fall in love with metal and found objects,” Ogbeyemi disclosed. “Later in life, when I was about to embark on my chosen career, my father gave me the freedom of choice to decide in the field of study I want to even when he wanted me to study Engineering as a career due to the auto-mobile mechanical job experience he had over the years.”
On Ibiok’s Talkless Talk exhibition, Akar disclosed that seven major works would be on display in the artist’s solo featuring 14 watercolour and oil paintings. “The show is about people talking everything, including whatever anyone considers as nonsense,” he said.
Akar boasted that Ibiok’s works for the Talkless Talk show “are very intriguing.” Among his works for the show are: The Jokers, which is about the laugh of others, (oil On canvas, 152.4Cm X 182.88Cm, dated 2020); and The Philanderers, a piece about communion of friends (Oil On Canvas, 152.4Cm X 182.88Cm, dated 2020).
Educated at Auchi Polytechnic and graduated in flying colours, Ibiok, according to Akar, taught people in his class on skills of drawing and painting.
“Ibiok is among the top five painters today in this country,” Akar argued. “If you asked me he is number 2, and, if you squeezed me again, I will say he is number one on the list of artists producing paintings in Nigeria currently.”
Ibiok, in his Artist Statement, recalled how he “embraced elements of abstractions, deceptions, exaggerations and stylisation in all my artistic aspects of life, grown through great narratives and deep thinking.” He explained his interest in lines: “I am inspired by the use of lines which for every artist is the primary principle for drawing and I am working endlessly to master its full formular.” He called his style of art “Kriloo”, which means “Creative Lines”. He disclosed that it had always been his dream to explore lines as a pictorial element.
“We don’t charge artists money or rent out space, just like our auctions where we don’t get artists to pay when their works are not sold,” Akar proudly flaunted his commitment to be helper to artists. “We are here to help artists grow for the larger society.”
On the Talkless Talk theme of his exhibition, Ibiok gave a poetic response:
“When Will It Be?
Will There Ever Be?
We Want All To Pass…
It Shouldn’t Have Been . . . All We Need Is Wine, Music And Flesh…
Our Creator Says I Made it So . . . Out Of Fire Comes The Finest Gold…
My Reasons For Art … Art Is Life, Life Is Art…Thank God Am An Artist.
Born in 1994, Ibiok hails from Akwa Ibom State Nsit-Ubium Local Government. He attended the famous Art School of Auchi Polytechnic Edo State, and graduated in 2013 (OND), 2017 (HND) respectively. He majored in painting and mixed media exploration. Ibiok is currently a full-time practicing artist with a studio in Lagos/Ogun State.