The Arts

April 23, 2024

Akeem’s Metalphysics Alliance captures scriptural analogy

By Osa Mbonu-Amadi, Arts Editor

With a new awakening for the Nigerian sculpture scene, artist Muraina Akeem is boosting the current energies with three themes loaded in one exhibition.

The artist goes deep into the scripture, applying the vibrancy of art to represent spiritual interpretation of Nigeria’s struggling economy.

Akeem’s solo art exhibition titled “Metalphysics Alliance”, which comes in trilogy of The cows, The Pastures and The Tenants, opens on April 27, ending May 4, 2024 at Signature Beyond Art Gallery, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos. Akeem’s Metalphysics asserts Signature Beyond’s pedigree of showing unique and uncommon works of artists. Interestingly, the exhibition marks Akeem’s three decades of studio practice as an artist.

According to Signature Beyond’s gallery statement, the exhibition is a groundbreaking contemporary transformative showcase of a journey of exploration and discovery through the captivating world of 4-dimensional narrative sculptures.

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The gallery noted that at the intersection of art and storytelling, Metalphysics offers a unique glimpse into Akeem’s imaginative universe, where metal transcends its physical form to become a medium for the expression of profound narratives and timeless truths.

The statement explained that through the artist’s masterful craftsmanship, he breathes life into inert materials, transforming them into conduits for the exploration of the human experience and the mysteries of existence.

The trilogy part of the exhibition themed “the Cow, the Pastures, and the Tenants” has been described as serving as a tantalizing invitation to delve into the rich tapestry of symbolism and metaphor woven throughout Akeem’s sculptures. Each piece, according to the gallery, serves as a portal into a world where reality and fantasy converge, where the ordinary becomes extraordinary, and where the boundaries between past, present, and future blur into insignificance.

“As you journey through the gallery space, allow yourself to be swept away by the evocative power of Akeem’s creations. Lose yourself in the intricacies of his storytelling, immerse yourself in the subtle nuances of his craftsmanship, and allow your imagination to soar to new heights as you contemplate the deeper meanings hidden within each sculpture,” Signature Beyond stated during a preview.

“Metalphysics is more than just an exhibition. It is a testament to the transformative power of art to inspire, provoke, and illuminate. We invite you to join us on this extraordinary voyage of discovery, as we explore the boundless possibilities of the human imagination and celebrate the enduring legacy of artistic expression.”

For Akeem, the exhibition represents a landmark in his three decades career as a studio artist. “The metalphysics Alliance, which is my second solo exhibit happens to be a landmarking of my 30th year of sojourning in the creative sphere,” he declared in his Artist Statement. “Newly added materials to my constructive and creative works of art on steel, like newspapers, electrical panels, keys and padlocks, etc., had been purposefully used in alliances to create a unique and symbolic thought- provoking visual experiences.”

Explaining the concept of the three themes, Akeem said the cows of seven in number represent the famous scriptural Joseph’s interpretation of the then king of Egypt’s dream about the largesse of a buoyant economy. From artistic perspective, Akeem noted that cows in this context were created from discarded plastic fuel tanks of motor vehicles. He also explained that materials used relates to oil, the current nerve of Nigeria’s economy and one of the cardinal focuses of the exhibition.

“The Pastures here represent all of the endowed natural resources not limited to oil but agriculture products, gold and some of the other relatives. The Tenants are the entrusted managers of the earth citizens which in this case is the Man.” Graphically bringing the context into the Nigerian reality, the artist argued that the oil boom era had created what he described as “intoxicated ego massaging and wastefulness.” The era, Akeem said, resulted in the “creations of multiple drain pipes into the greedy and unpatriotic private pockets at the expense of the larger majority.”

Akeem, a former Vice Chairman of Society of Nigerian Artists, SNA, Lagos, had his debut solo exhibition titled The Eden Before Us, in 2012 at the National Museum of Arts and Monuments, Onikan, Lagos. Some of his group exhibitions include October Rain (2022), Mudrim Gallery; Elixir, National Museum Onikan (2021); Impact Artists Fair, at Alpha One, Eko Atlantic City (2019); and The Centre Cannot Hold, at Thought Pyramid Art Centre, in 2018, among over ten shows.