Bolaji Alonge will present his upcoming exhibition, themed “Urban Culture – Historical Continuity” at One Draw Gallery from 11 to 25 November 2018, curated by Segun Adejumo.
His visual language speaks of the wonders of nature and human exchange, urban culture and searches for historical continuity in a world that is sometimes heavily fractured. His lens exposes contrast and conflict, while offering an alternative vision of one-ness, order in chaos.
While the streets in Lagos are boiling hot and people are rushing from one place to another, just a few hours sailing down the Lagos Lagoon takes you to another reality where time stands still. Nigeria is an urbanized country, with intense social and cultural patterns that might not always seem compatible but find a more or less comfortable co-existence.
Recurring themes reflect the challenges people face today and Bolaji manages to expose beauty where it is not expected. Nigeria today is a restless country, with shifting realities, one foot in the past the other reaching for a better future. Due to political turmoil the lives of many were put on hold, which has contributed to a sense of resilience, but also constant flares of resistance. Music, food and good times are part of everyday life and a source of pleasure, inspiration and exuberance.
Some of the images that will be presented for the first time are snapshots of country life, the challenges of life in a megapolis, and unforgettable images of Lagos and its inhabitants. The sheer beauty of some of the stolen moments “behind the scenes” makes one reflect on how certain things never change. Urban Culture – Historical Continuity is about Nigeria today, fearlessly looking towards the future.
Bolaji Alonge is an artist, photographer, actor and journalist from Lagos, Nigeria. He is also a globetrotter who has travelled the world during the last decade documenting exotic culture and history, pushed forward by a wanderlust instilled in him since childhood.
Bolaji Alonge was born in Lagos, first of five siblings with a father in the Nigerian air force, and a loving mother who took care of the family. His dad passed on his passion for photography to Bolaji, who spent time with him taking and developing images as a child. He studied Mass Communication at the University of Lagos in the rowdy nineties, while exploring his acting skills at the famous Theatre 15 UNILAG. Ever since he has acted in a range of theatre, television and movie projects.
This experience and his travels made Bolaji a great storyteller who loves to share his photography and the deeper meaning of the stunning images he presents. “I encourage young Africans to take up the camera and document history – those memories that make up the fabric of existence. In order to move forward we have to know where we come from. I do it by searching for unique shots, that become integrated in the mood boards of our lives”.
“I aim to capture the reality of the average African – a mix of stark realities that might seem chaotic but have their own functionality – however disorganized it looks at first sight. Life works in Africa too. The two main components of chaos theory are the idea that systems no matter how complex rely upon an underlying order, and that very simple or small systems and events can cause very complex behaviours. This is a red thread throughout my work today”.
In May 2017, he organized his “Eyes of a Lagos Boy” photo exhibition at the prestigious Freedom Park in Lagos to critical acclaim. The show presented iconic images of everyday life and societal concerns from Nigeria, Egypt, the Netherlands, Oman, Germany, India, Turkey and Sweden. The show was declared a resounding success in terms of attendance and response from both the Nigerian and international audience, giving birth to his photographic brand.
This project also brought Bolaji closer to Freedom Park, making it his creative base. “Eyes of a Lagos Boy” ran 20-27 May 2017 at Freedom Park and hosted Africa’s first Nobel Laureate (Literature), Professor Wole Soyinka, among numerous guests.
As a marketing stunt that became popular in its own right, Bolaji came up with branded t-shirts that have been turning heads in Lagos and abroad. None less than Femi Anikulapo-Kuti, the son of African superstar and creator of Afrobeat Fela Anikulapo- Kuti and a global music icon, wears it with pride. Bolaji is a regular at the New Afrika Shrine, a grove of deep rhythms for those addicted to freedom. Bolaji has been documenting Femi for years and is a dedicated “shrine rat”.
Bolaji Alonge also works on social and documentary projects, such as a campaign on the human right to water, the Epe Waterside Health Care Project, that documents small communities living along the Lagos Lagoon and their health challenges, a series of art and photography education workshops at Kiri-Kiri maximum security prison and others. He is a passionate deep sea-diver and activist for ecological justice.
ONE DRAW GALLERY
One Draw is an artist experience, consultancy, gallery, and research centre for the fine arts. One Draw brings the intuitive representation of the familiar in drawing, painting and sculpture.
The idea is to bring a profound experience into the mundane, to open the ordinary eyes to the intellectuality in what seems pedestrian by highlighting through exquisite draughtsmanship and intuitive rendition the beauty of everyday experience/life.