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Freedom: Offo traces artistic transition in new experimentation

By  PRISCA SAM-DURU-Exhibition

Since on opening its doors  in 2011, ushering Lagos into a unique expression of art in collaboration with hospitality, The Wheatbaker Lagos has held nothing back so long as it is arts and culture related. Little wonder the hotel has expressed its commitment towards celebrating the best of Nigerian creativity by hosting world class art exhibitions as well as dedicated its walls to showcasing beautiful traditional, modern and contemporary art.

In line with its passion for the arts, the hotel celebrated its 5th year anniversary last week with an art exhibition featuring one of Nigeria’s leading contemporary artists, Gbenga Offo. The Wheatbaker’s choice of a visual art exhibition for such celebration is worthy of commendation and therefore, an eloquent proof of how much art has evolved in the country.

• Happy People by Gbenga Offo
• Happy People by Gbenga Offo

Themed Freedom, the 4 months long exhibition curated by Sandra Mbanefo Obiago of SMO Contemporary Art, opened 15th October and runs till 15th January, 2017. The exhibition is sponsored by Veuve Clicquot and of course The Wheatbaker Lagos, features Offo’s 39 paintings and sculptures which touch on the artist’s artistic personality.

Freedom is a rare exhibition, highlighting Offo’s Freedom series that present his first collection of metal sculptures in bronze, wrought iron and stainless steel. These phenomenal works are complemented by iconic paintings in his signature cubist style, as well as “splash paintings” in which he shows a creative release into abstract expressionism. Also on display are finely rendered charcoal and pencil sketches on paper, showcasing his mastery in creating stunning pieces in the realism style, depicting nuanced personality, movement and character.

Detail of Sweet Conversation,The Letter, Flip, Hope 1 & 11, Mutual Respect, Two Lovers, Still Missing, Kiss, Lady With Fan, The Ochestra, are some of the titles in the Freedom Series.

The paintings to a large extent, reflect the strength of our national character, its vitality, energetic resilience, its bold colors as well as complex nature.

The series also traces Offo’s artistic transition from his early ambitions to study music. That dream was never realised but his fascination with musical symbolism are reflected in most of his works. One of the works on display titled Jazz at Midnight (acrylic on Canvas), showcases his love for music.

‘Still Missing’ is a timely piece in the body of work. The piece shows tattered school uniform, slippers, books etc, scattered on the ground and according to the artists it “Helps us to reflect on what is going on in the society. It is speaking to the remaining Chibok students who are yet to regain their freedom. While we celebrate the release of 21, we need to speak out on what is happening across the globe. Young lives are being killed and truncated. The red colour does not represent blood but in solidarity with the BBOG’s campaigners.”

 


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