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Navigating the labyrinths of patterns in Ogundipe’s Mythopoeia

By Japhet Alakam

NIGERIAN born, Prof Moyo Ogundipe, is a prominent Denver painter, an art teacher, a graphic illustrator, an award-winning television producer/director and an independent filmmaker. But in spite of all his creative pursuits, he has always considered himself first and foremost a visual artist.

He has exhibited extensively in Nigeria, Europe and the United States and as part of his current efforts to reach out to Nigerians, Moyo Ogundipe will be the guest of many art lovers as he presents a solo exhibition tagged Mythopoeia, an exhibition of recent works.

The high profile exhibition which will be graced by many prominent art patrons, collectors and others is scheduled to open on October 15 and run to 22, 2016, at Omenka Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos.

For him, the creative practice is akin to mythopoeia: “an unending search for the meaning and reason and rhythm of life.”

• Cotyledon of Songs, one of the works by Ogundipe

Ogundipe’s paintings have been described as hypnotic, colorful and densely patterned. He paints in the rich tradition of the Yoruba culture of Nigeria and attempts in his paintings to evolve a style that is a fusion or synthesis between his traditional heritage and his Western education. Featuring about 30 works,some of the works include Klin of Creation, Cotyledon of Songs, Rhapsody, Montage of dreams and others. Each work evokes a distinct response. For example, Rhapsody is likely to arouse excitement with its bold, predominantly warm palette and sharp, diagonal thrusts, while Cotyledon of Songs, from the following year, is more likely to instill calmness, with its comparatively subtle, cool palette and intricate layers of patterning.

Nonetheless, it is up to viewers to determine their own course through the paintings, and in this process, they may find meaningful parallels with life’s journey. In the end, the works, like the best myths, open up thought, providing forums for contemplation of the world in which we live.

According to the curator of the show, Janine Sytsma, Ph.D., “this exhibition traces Ogundipe’s artistic development during the last twenty years as he moved between Nigeria and the United States and developed a mythic language to reflect the ever-changing global condition. Viewers of the paintings are cast in the role of protagonists and are invited to navigate the labyrinth of patterns and to unearth the treasures embedded within.”

For art teacher, Dr Kunle Filani, “Ogundipe’s visual articulation is summative of the meticulous intellectualization of artistic forms by the Yoruba artists over the ages. The penchant for perfect rationalization of visual images seems ceaseless in the Yoruba creative regenerative continuum. From the ancient classical Ife bronze and terra-cotta sculptures, Owo art, and even the hybrid of Benin, Tsoedo, and Tada bronzes to the more recent exquisite Ekiti/Igbomina woodcarvings, there is a peculiar compact and sophisticated appropriation of forms that is unique in spite of the remarkable diversity of African art.”

Ogundipe was awarded the Pollock-Krasner Fellowship in 1996.


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