The Arts

June 9, 2024

I am privileged to have my debut solo exhibition on Soyinka’s birthday – Adeyemi

By Osa Mbonu-Amadi, Arts Editor

All is set for Olalekan Adeyemi’s debut solo art exhibition, AFÁRA OYIN, scheduled to open on 13 July 2024, and runs till July 26, 2024 at Thought Pyramid Art Centre, Norman Williams Street, South West, Ikoyi, Lagos.

AFÁRÀ OYIN, which translates to “Bridges of Sweetness” is organized by Next of Kin and supported by Thought Pyramid Art Centre. Curated by Ovie Omatsola, Exhibition Director at Thought Pyramid Art Centre and Initiator and Coordinator of the Next of Kin series, AFÁRÀ OYIN, a collection of 18 paintings by the artist, is conceptualized to bridge the past and present, tradition and innovation, and personal and collective histories.

Olalekan, a contemporary visual artist from Osun State who studied Fine and Applied Arts at Ladoke Akintola University of Technology fielded questions by Vanguard Newspaper on the upcoming exhibition: 

Your first solo art exhibition titled “Afara Oyin” is scheduled to begin on July 13, Prof. Wole Soyinka’s birthday. Does the exhibition have anything to do with Soyinka’s birthday?

No, it didn’t even occur to me that that is his birthday. What a wonderful coincidence that such event is happening on the birthday of a great icon, Wole Soyinka. Now that I know, it is my pleasure to celebrate with him through this exhibition. Prof. Wole Soyinka also stands as AFÁRÁ (bridge) to many in this country, and all over the world. Indeed, it’s a great privilege for me to have my debut solo exhibition on his birthday.

Given that your art focuses on parenting as it relates to Yoruba traditions and delves into socio-philosophical discourses, what do you consider as the core of Yoruba philosophy in parenting?

What I consider as the core of Yoruba parenting is the consciousness of ojo Ola. In that light, parents are the primary teachers of their children, to instruct them in the proper ways of relating to their elders and peers. This pattern of teaching has continued to change in dynamics due to factors such as urbanization, economic realities and popular culture. With this understanding, home must be strong in order to affect the society positively.

Your works titled “The Ripening of Expectation”, “Ìmólè l & II” and “Àrokò Adùn” are said to be reflections on the impact of Yoruba cultural practices on contemporary life. Could you furnish some practical examples of this impact of Yoruba cultural practices on contemporary life?

Yes, in the ripening of expectations, the core concept explored is the fullness of patience in exercise. Suuru, is a necessary element which every person endures to achieve, thinking of it in contemporary times, it remains unchanged as a necessity for realizing a good lifestyle.

Imole I &II, is simply the light of the truth that every child has been given from birth. This light could be a result of the initial revelation of the child as a beam of hope for the parents, and yet, its existence is a reflection on the entire society the child is birthed in. I think that has not changed in contrast to contemporary society

In your “Agogo”, “All goes back” and “Our Scribe of Time”, you appear to be lamenting the erosion of communal values due to virtual interactions. Is it not true that virtual interactions have strengthened communal values rather than weakened them? Promotion, they say, popularizes culture. Cultures are promoted on virtual platforms, and a cultural post on a social media platform can reach hundreds of thousands of people compared to the sound of agogo that cannot go beyond a local community of a few hundred people.

The works are not particularly lamenting. However, they are icons of reflections. To reflect on the primal essence of communication in itself is something I consider necessary because it helps us to understand and appreciate its functions as a means to promote communal values for everyone, not to be belittled by modern society for “cruise” as the word often used in the context of modern trends amidst the youths.

All goes back on the same point of view in respect to the positive impact of courtship. I think most conjugal relationships begin from that stage of shared interests in the propagation of a functional affair with one another. It’s now called boyfriend/girlfriend relations, which also requires the proper guidance of parents to realize the future benefits from the marriage.

These works serve as note to the audience to preserve the primal power of every single piece as they promote our culture in light of modern society, to seek a proper redress for the promotion of communal values.

Yes, I agree with you that virtual interactions are strengthening our culture, no doubt, and these are the same promotion my work seeks, but from the place of understanding how and why, the values of our culture need to be maintained.

I adopted the agogo as a metaphor in the shifts of our society’s social order, it is true as an old forgotten practice but one whose intent is still upheld in light of social media interactions. The agogo was used to disseminate vital information for a community of people. It goes about the positive use of every medium of communication in modern times. I seek to promote the proper use of these means as they’re directly linked with our lifetime.

Have you also considered how virtual interactions have made life easier and helped kept families connected? I am interviewing you virtually here. Before the internet and social media came, I might have needed to travel a long distance to conduct this interview with you.

Absolutely yes, we’re enjoying the positive impact here. And that’s what I seek to promote with my works drawn in Yoruba culture. Validating the positives of our cultural background as they relate to be guides on our modern culture.


With a rich exhibition history in Nigeria and a presence in private collections, both locally and internationally, Adeyemi’s talent has garnered recognition, including winning the Next of Kin, Series 4, in 2022. He has consistently participated in prestigious art events like the October Rain exhibition hosted by the Lagos State chapter of the Society of Nigerian Artists.