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Kunle Adeyemi @ 60 touring art exhibition

By Chukwuma Ajakah

Kunle Adeyemi Art Studio in Conjunction with the National Commission for Museums and Monuments presents a touring art exhibition tagged“Quantum Leap” to mark the 60th birthday of the master artist, Dr Kunle Adeyemi of Yaba Tech, Lagos. The first phase of the touring retrospective art exhibition will open at 4p.m.

on Saturday, September 14 at the National Museum,  Onikan and run from 9a.m. to 6p.m. daily while the 2nd phase is scheduled to hold between September  26 and October 18, 2019 at the Yusuf Grillo Auditorium and Gallery, School of Art Design & Printing, Yabatech, Lagos.

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In a Press Briefing held last Thursday at Kunle Adeyemi Studio, Mushin, Lagos, the celebrated master artist gave details of the scheduled art show, “It will be a touring exhibition with two venues that have different audiences.

Apart from the diverse audience expected at Onikan, my students are at Yabatech. I’m a lecturer and need to bring things to my base where the students can learn one or two things”.  He adds, “Many things are not done properly in this country. An exhibition should take at least 30 days, but here it is only for a few days.

The artist naturally documents reports events materially as something concrete for a future reference, not just information.” Quantum Leap will feature 60 of Adeyemi’s works including the following: Statements from my Heart and Other Matters, the Mystery of Sambisa Forest, After IDP Camp What Next?, Sambisa Forest 2, African  Ruler and His Subjects, Women Protest for Chibok and Dapchi, Herdsmen Invasion-From Rod Stick to AK47 and Democracy for Who, the Ruler or the Ruled?

In addition to the many solo exhibitions he has held, Adeyemi has participated in over 80 group shows locally and internationally. He has facilitated many workshops, residences and visual art retreats in Sweden, United States of America, Liberia and Nigeria. Kunle Adeyemi, current Dean, Faculty of Art, Design and Printing, Yabatech is an interdisciplinary scholar and visual artist. He received the leadership award for life time achievement from the Society of Nigerian Artists, a visual arts professional body.

Explaining the thematic focus of Quantum Leap, Adeyemi says, “It is to say that after a while I am taking a leap. It is a retrospective exhibition involving my earlier works and the recent ones Life is indefinite, people who died 50 years ago would be wondering what is happening now”.  He adds that art has an irrepressible voice that speaks to succeeding generations.

Buttressing this assertion with a subtle allusion to the music of the late Afrobeat King, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Adeyemi intones, “Fela sang songs that are evergreen. Many of the songs remind us that we are not yet out of the woods. The song ‘zombie’ still plays today even after Obasanjo’s government banned it many years ago”.

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Speaking of his own works, he remarks “Most times I search into the needs of the community and do works that make statements that people do not forget easily. Example, Dumping Ground  portrays Nigeria as a nation with a depressed system where virtually everything is imported. Our educational system makes so much emphasis on paper certification that many students don’t even do their own projects by themselves. They cannot remember what they did when asked to apply their findings in practical terms”.

Adeyemi narrates the message embedded in his 2000 Years After Jesus Christ is Evergreen:  “Besides expressing my faith as a Christian, this reveals the uniqueness of Jesus’ ministry.

In contrast to other leaders who either worked alone, he selected 12 disciples. Peter alone won over 3000 people at a single crusade. Today, there are billions of Christians all over the world.” Adeyemi opines that artists who shy away from mentoring may die uncelebrated with nothing left of their craft for posterity, “I want to leave arts better than I met it.

The artist should be willing to allow younger artists to learn from him. Artists that isolate themselves may die and not be celebrated by subsequent generations. Instead of working alone, I work with some of my students”.

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