By Chukwuma Ajakah
In this interview with Vanguard, quintessential Nigerian artist, Babalola Dare Lawson, talks about the prospects in arts, his over two decades career as a studio artist whose work projects African culture, and his planned exhibition scheduled for 2023. Excerpts:
Tell us briefly about yourself.
I am Babalola Dare Lawson, born 1973, I studied under Femi Johnson in Osogbo.
How would you categorize your work?
I have participated in many art exhibitions and three solo exhibitions. I’ve also been involved in the publication of four books with many news media.
I mean your most preferred medium of expression?
As a contemporary artist, I develop my style from Osogbo movement of art. I work with acrylic and ink on canvas
Are you a full-time studio artist or you do a few other things to augment your income?
I’ve been a full-time studio artist since 1996 till now. I moved into Lagos, present base, in 1999.
What are the issues you explore through arts?
Character of my environment with things that go on in Africa
Things like what?
Politics, culture and our way of life
Tell us about some of the art exhibitions you participated in. How did they impact your career?
I have participated in Art on Wheel in Accra, Ghana, Last Picture Show in Cameroon, 50th anniversary of Alliance Française, The Way We Are at Nimbus Art Center, Lagos and three auctions like Arthouse Contemporary Auction, Sogal Auction with Signature Art Gallery and My Dream Auction.
Art thrives on inspiration. In other words, something triggers the creative fire in you. What inspires you?
Sometimes, in people’s conversations, the expressions on their faces bring out the beast in my stokes.
Which of the art events or exhibitions do you consider most memorable and why?
The last picture show in Cameroon. The way people reacted to my paintings with huge media house interviews.
Was it tagged, Picture Show? What was it all about?
It was all about bringing African artists together to express their feelings about the continent.
About how many paintings have you produced so far? Tell us some of the titles.
I can’t really count, but they are more than five hundred paintings.
Are you on any project at present?
I’m working on my upcoming exhibition slated for next year.
In what ways do your works promote African culture or value system?
The way we dress, our way of communicating with one another and our beautiful landscapes.
There must be some masters you look up to as mentors in your career. Can you mention a few of them?
Twins Seven-Seven, Munrina Oyelami , Femi Johnson, and Glover
Tell us a bit about the planned exhibition.
The title is “My Mind”. It will feature 50 paintings designed to mark my 50th.
Wow! That’s deep. Congratulations in advance! Having been on this journey for over two decades now, you must have something to share with aspiring artists, regarding the prospects and challenges of being an artist.
First, I must say that going into art doesn’t make you rich, but it gives you the opportunity to be counted in society. It also gives you room to express your mind about unseen things that people who have less knowledge of how to create imaginatively.
You can’t start as a “master know it all”. The only way to improve is to keep on moving day by day, exploiting every available material. Art affords you opportunities to travel and export your culture to other parts of the world. However, focus is the name of the game and tolerance makes it prosperous.