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Voice on canvass: Kunle Adegborioye’s dripping brush…

By Japhet Alakam
Nigerian born painter, Kunle Adegborioye who  is currently based in UK is back in Nigeria with a special message to inspire and engage the Nigerian audience  through his latest solo exhibition titled, My Voice; Exhibition of Paintings. The exhibition which opened on the 22nd May at Nike Art Gallery, Lekki, Lagos will run till May 29th 2010.

Addressing the press during the preview before the exhibition kicked off, Kunle who is not a full time artist confessed that dedication, focus and prolificity have been the driving force behind all that he has been doing.

Though residing in the UK , Kunle visits the country at will and has participated in almost all the art auctions held in the country. The critically acclaimed painter who is known for his uncanny way of combining and employing colours, through this exhibition reflects on the cultural heritage and the socio- political problems in the country and concludes that “in an era of concern about global and fiscal upheaval that envelopes everyday life, it is my hope that a taste of harmony and equilibrium might be afforded.”

According to him “I want to use this exhibition to put myself in line with the art and culture of Nigeria. Being trained as an artist, I was trained to exhibit; but sometimes people get the wrong concept of exhibition. But for me, the basic thing about exhibition is not selling, it is to let people see what I have been able to produce over the years.”

Continuing, the Ibadan Polytechnic and Yaba College of Technology  trained painter said “the aim of the exhibition is to voice out what I have done not by speaking out, but by producing the works to show people exactly what I have been able to produce in the past few years.” And true to his words, the exhibition features a collection of paintings about the cultural, political and social problems in the country and also,  focus more on the social problems in the society.

For instance, one of the works, Water Front- Iwaya, is a painting that depicts a boy in a canoe paddling, which he says, “for me it is like training a child, but from where I grew up, it is a form of child abuse. For a little boy to be paddling a canoe is totally wrong. No Safety measures are provided for him and he is left to paddle himself through that vast canvass of risk. This painting for me, is an indictment on society that approves this kind of child abuse.”

There are also a lot of things about  society in the exhibition like in such works as; Another Day is Here’ which depicts a woman selling fish, A Woman Selling garri and elopo and Women selling Tomatoes and pepper. These series of paintings in their own tacit terms; are a vicious remark on the predominantly peasant economy that still shape the vast economic life of many communities in Nigeria.

There is also the painting of two male beggars clutching their Islamic prayer beads under an umbrella . The painting shows that even while they are begging that  they still have hope in God. All these works point to the social problems in the society. Also, there are paintings that explore some positive cultural aspects of the country. For instance, Homage to Oshogbo Heritage, which shows a  drummer entertaining people, Yoruba drummers and Drummers Return,  works that depict society in a culturally healthy and convivial environment. These works too, depict the rich cultural life of Nigeria which according to the painter, remains one important aspect of the national heritage that can not be taken away from the people.

The exhibition features over 30 works. According to the Painter, “I am more interested about the quality and not quantity and so, I selected these few works because of space limitation in order to give the exhibition an international coloration”

Works on display include; mixed media paintings on  canvas, acrylic on canvas and oil on canvas titled as follows: Travelers, Motherhood, Oshun Oshogbo,Cultural Heritage, Homage to Oshogbo, Travelers Return, Call to Duty, Northern Drummers, Water Front- Iwaya, Idumota, Egungun, Another Day etc.

Commenting about the artist, notable art scholar, Kolade Oshinowo said that  “Adegborioye is one of those artists who share my passion and enthusiasm for studio practice. He has constantly and consistently shown the desire to explore and exploit the various cultural themes and the human drama that plays out in the lives of everyday Nigerians, in their quest for survival.”

For Nike Davies Okundaye of Nike Arts, “Kunle loves his paintings and is very dedicated to his works.”

Adegborioye who studied in Ibadan Poly and Yaba Tech before going to London for his Master of Arts at Camberwell College of Arts has participated in many solo and group exhibitions within and outside Nigeria and his works are in many public collections.


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