By Magnus Eze
On the right as you go up Yakubu Gowon Crescent from the Asokoro Junction to the Presidential Villa is a huge boulder, one of such natural deposits that make Abuja, the nation’s capital, a plaxe of splendour.
However, one creative mind has taken time to enhance the aesthetics of the sprawling rock since August 11, 2003, when he came to the place and set up his roadside studio there. The place has over time adorned different looks.
Today, the spot could pass for a cultural centre or art house, with various sculptural pieces and paintings adorning the rock.
The Delta State-born artist behind the edifice, Mr. Peter Agboro, told Daily Sun that he values his roadside studio more than a limousine or skyscraper.
Agboro, who has practiced his vocation for about 30 years after graduating from the Fine Arts Department of the Auchi Polytechnic, said that art is his life: “When you discover yourself and that thing that gives you happiness, that’s the most important thing. What you will eat will come from it.”
Asked whether there was enough patronage for him as a roadside artist after his long years of experience, he stated that it has been a lucrative venture, even though he was not driven by the profit motive but the passion for his vocation.
He said: “I don’t need to be a millionaire; you can drive your limousine or have skyscraper, I don’t care. What I am doing here is what matters most to me.”
He noted said that the business has enabled him cater for his family, build his own house in Abuja and own a car.
The studio is replete with stone works, sculptural pieces, iron works, paintings and water fountains. Having majored in painting in school, Agboro’s works show his dexterity with the brush. Any arts collector would be thrilled by his art forms, especially the abstract works.
It was not surprising, therefore, that the artist spends a lot of time to create abstract works because, according to him, they sell faster than the realistic art and more art collectors go for them.
One of the most spectacular paintings on display was titled “The Thought of My Father’s Cocoa.”
The artist explained that he was motivated to do the acrylic piece as reminiscence of the nation’s forgotten treasures in agriculture. To him, the work is a reminder that Nigerians should return to the farm and de-emphasise oil and gas economy.
It was also observed that many of the works on display celebrated African womanhood. The artist was very clear on this: “I’ve many works on women because we need to appreciate the efficacy of God’s creation in them. They are subjects in the society that we don’t need to neglect. In fact, the world would be bare, dull and colourless without women.”
Another interesting feature of the place was a bunk created by the artist with a dining table on the frontage carved from solid rock. Also, an uncommon plant which he planted some years back has grown to add some picturesque feature to the spot. This showed the artist could work with plants and flowers too.
Artist from birth
Agboro told Daily Sun that studying Fine Arts in a tertiary institution for him was merely to fine-tune his God-given talent: “The gift of God can’t be compromised. Even though I went to school, what I am doing today is naturally deposited in me. Arts has always been my medium of expression from childhood.
“As early as when I was six years old, it was already discovered that arts was my endowment. At that time, I wouldn’t play with age-mates for five minutes without withdrawing to use broom stick to sketch something on the ground. I would fight when anybody disturbed me while sketching.”
That little boy who sketched on the sand in those days is today making a living from art.
He disclosed that his 19-year-old son has taken after him and is creatively endowed.
With the support of his son, the roadside arthouse has become a school of sorts as they now train students in arts. While some fine arts students from various institutions come there for their internship, our reporter learnt that some graduates of other discipline also enroll to be trained in art.
Agboro said he charges next to nothing for the students/trainees because he believes that young people should be given the opportunity to pursue their dreams. An artist, according to him, is a self-reliant person.