By Prisca Sam-Duru
To mark a decade of existence, Temple Muse Lagos which has in recent years thrown its full weight behind the arts through exhibitions, is hosting Connecting the Dots, a solo exhibition of paintings and sculptures by Nigeria’s fast rising visual artist, Olumide Onadipe.
Onadipe, with a Bachelor’s degree in painting from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 2008, earned his Master’s of Fine Art in 2012 from the University of Lagos. He has taken part in numerous exhibitions in the United Kingdom, Ghana, and Nigeria and is in important local and international collections.
Supported by Veuve Clicquot, Connecting the Dots which opened to the public on May 14 and runs through August 30, 2018, is curated by SMO Contemporary Art. It reflects over 40 of Olumide’s thought-provoking works which show amazing artistic dexterity, sensitivity, and breadth in tackling urgent issues of global consumerism against the backdrop of daunting environmental pressures facing millions of Africans every day.
His signature sculptures, made from up-cycled and re-purposed plastic shopping bags, water sachets, juice packs, cement bags and newspapers, are presented alongside his paintings, which are a continuation of his eclectic palette of rich materiality and textural freedom, showing human forms emerging out of intricate tangles of roots and leaves.
Watchers, The queens Retinue, We Are Not the Same But We Are the Same, Crossroads II, Ball Man, Boxed Man, Pyramid Scheme, are few of the titles of works on display at Temple Muse.
“The materials I explore, polythene bags, newspapers, jute and cement bags, electrical cables, ink, paint, wood, and metal,” Onadipe, whose work is referenced against Africa’s rich history, noted, “reflect ordinary Nigerian life and question our consumerism. A continent that supports the economy of the rest of the world now has need for support and a people of earliest inventors and inventions have become consumers,” he intoned.
Connecting the Dots exposes the different layers of Onadipe’s artistic personality in which he grapples with identity and migration vis-à-vis a universal yearning for global citizenship and communication across a world of bold colour. The artist’s interpretation of these universal themes are presented through the tying, knotting, folding and melting of vibrant re-purposed materials used to create striking sculptures with life size legs and geometric shaped torsos and heads. They are a powerful counterpoint to the delicate brushstrokes of his paintings depicting human forms yearning towards emotional harmony and environmental balance.
Watchers, for instance, speaks to issues regarding terrorism in Nigeria. The artist explained that he conceived the idea during the last administration when it was just Boko Haram. “Sadly, herdsmen killings have been added such that people who should come home and rest after the day’s hard work have become watchmen, trying to stay alive.”
According to the Artistic Director of SMO and curator of the exhibition, Sandra Mbanefo Obi: “In Connecting the Dots, we see an artist who boldly questions the status-quo, and whose art has swept him to the very cusp of the rising tide of contemporary art coming out of Nigeria. His expression is in-sync with the aspirations of millions of Nigerian youths trying to seek better livelihoods within a totally overburdened natural and political ecosystem.”
“For those of us who have followed him for more than a decade, his new works do not present themselves as a surprise or a rupture, but as an evolution and deepening of ideas and formal solutions,” said Jess Castellote, noted art critic. “He is finding an aesthetic vocabulary and a formal language that allows him work with ideas and meanings in a much more forceful way.”