For a visual artist, Yemi Odetayo, exhibiting his works has been his utmost dream, because it is what really puts an artist in the limelight. While many artists are concerned about selling their works for a biblical daily bread, he chose to build a barn for his art piece even as he visualises for advertising agencies and publishing firms so as to have other streams of income yet he paints.
This mission materialised last Saturday when he mounted his third solo exhibition at the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos. The exhibition, entitled “Shades of Life,” parades not more than 53 artworks of diverse forms, places and moods.
Many visitors who thronged the exhibition hall were wooed. An art critique described it thus, “…In Yemi’s ‘Shades Of Life’, he has remained resolute in capturing the panorama of the environment… He has been able to cover diverse places and people in his over 30 paintings on show.”
The 1987 graduate of Yaba College of Technology and owner of a printing press, besides being involved in other allied field of art, is also a mentor of younger artists. “By virtue of that, I feel fulfilled in the area of art and life,” he added in a chat with arts and culture reporters. Having spent about 36 years in art, he still would not want to be called a master.
“The person who critiqued the works also described me as a young master. I’m happy in his description, because the like of Kolade Oshinowos still remain the masters,” he said.
The artist said he had been into advertising and publishing just to have streams of income. “During those times, I was not selling my art pieces, though there were willing buyers. The urge was to have an exhibition. If I were selling, I would never be around for this show. Storing my works helps because I have my works to build the volume a museum can accommodate,” he said.
However, many who were not privy to the vision of the 56-year-old artist will think he was waiting for a bang at the secondary market. He said, “Even in the auction, which you call the secondary market, I have only sold a work once. Exhibition was more important to me than participating in auctions, more so since I was able to earn income from other sources.
“I have friends who are desirous to have an exhibition like this. But, if you have five works and everything is sold, you may end up not having works for a show like this where 53 works are shown in one single exhibition. Somebody came into the exhibition hall and exclaimed; “Woo! Interesting works. But I don’t know you. That would always happen.
“If you don’t come out, you wouldn’t be known. You would be working and selling your works. But participating in exhibitions is what really put you in limelight. And that was what I wanted by storing my works till this moment when I have to exhibit them for Lagos art lovers to see and be entertained.
Mrs. Olaitan Otulana of the Lagos State Council for Arts and Culture said she could connect with most of the issues mirrored by the exhibiting artist, because they were particularly life’s issues expressed in art form.
Otulana, who was the chairperson of the occasion and an artist, told reporters after unveiling the exhibition, “The paintings are colorful and you cannot miss the sharp colours. They are sunny, inviting and awesome. They also speak to some challenges one faces day by day, and that makes one able to connect with them.”