By Henry Akubuiro
Relief sculptures by Segun Akano go back in history and tradition, using contemporary form. The artist brings his sculptures of timeless values to bear in a solo art exhibition entitled 9Gems showing from Friday, October 1-8, 2021, at Signature Beyond Gallery, 107, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos. The exhibition brings the value of tradition to blossom, using non-conventional materials like screws.
Passion for artists who are either creating fresh concepts or using known ideas to generate new visual narrative seems to be the increasing strength of Signature Beyond Gallery. Akano, according to the gallery, brings new contemporaneity into the Nigerian art space. “Segun Akano stands counted among talented artists that provide alternative visual narratives that complement the story of contemporary Nigerian art,” Director of Signature Beyond, Rahman Akar, stated, adding, “The way he renders his subject matter with his mode of execution and unique configuration sets his style apart.”
Akano explained further, “The body of work was inspired by our history, the stories of our fathers and forefathers, their experiences, their values, ethics and tradition.”
Among the works are Ojuloge, Liberated and Hummingbirds. On Ojuloge, the artist said “the name denotes beauty,” for “it is often given as a pet name to wives who are beautiful.” As a name deep in Yoruba value, It presupposes the existence of other “elements or qualities” of beauty, like wealth and children, which the rivals of the name-giver often pride in, Alamo explained.
“The giver believes that she is able to sustain and conquer her husband through her charm. Ojuloge means the beauty of a woman is in her face and eyes, more than this, the inner sight (eye of the heart, inner eye) Yoruba adage that says ‘oju ni obinrin fi nmu ohun loja’ (a woman picks things and makes choices at the marketplace with her inner eyes/sight). When your inner sight is well nurtured and trained, it brings great success and beauty to her family and the nation as a whole.”
For Liberated, a piece of relief that captures an enthused figure in elation, Akano tagged it as
‘Manifest the “clean slate” energy and purified vibrational state that comes through the Power of Forgiveness, whether you need to forgive others, or you are the one needing to be forgiven.
In a world bedevilled by hate, the artist probes into the psychology of dearth of love among the people.
He explained, “Hate is a strong emotion. This mental venom can pollute your spirit, poison your soul and seep into all of the relationships that surround you. Anyone who has found themselves wrapped up in the arms of hate knows how damaging and mind -consuming it can beco me. While hate can be directed at almost anything – animals, foods, jobs, movies – the most destructive is hatred toward other people. Forgiveness is one of the most misunderstood spiritual concepts. What comes to mind for many of us when we think about forgiveness, is “excusing” toxic and harmful behaviour, or “letting others off the hook” for mistreating us so that they, on many levels, appear to have gotten away with it. What forgiveness really means is “to set free” or “to liberate“. And, often unbeknownst to us, the very one being set free is us.”
Akano is among artists who make art from unusual materials. He focuses his art on relief sculptures and models with light and optical illusion. Using a small cog capable of maintaining monumental and durable structures, the artist shapes people in bas-relief using screws, constructing visual nuances to reveal light and shadow.
Akano’s works revolve around the female form, womanhood, African culture and legendary stories. He started creating art after graduating with his first degree in Analytical Chemistry from the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology in 2008.
Akano’s strength is displayed not only in the skill of his gesture in screwing in the materials he uses but also in the care given to the nuances that he constructs by the different heights of these same tools. These shades allow for the shaping of the folds of the fabrics, which he somehow manages to sculpt just like the intricacies of human anatomy.
Akano held his recent solo exhibition at CAL Bank Head Office, 23 Independence Avenue, Ridge, Accra, Ghana, organised by Kalizma Art.