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Connecting the dots across identity, migration in Onadipe’s creative oeuvre

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Olumide Onadipe. Photo/ SMO

Recently, issues such as, identity, migration, environmental management and globalisation have become dominant in Olumide Onadipe’s art.

An artist with exuberant deployment of re-purposed materials in creating sculptures and paintings, he places management of resources on the spot, just as he chides Africa for freely losing its dignity.

Currently showing as Connecting the Dots at the Temple Muse, Victoria Island, Lagos, Onadipe’s new body of work also marks the host space’s 10th anniversary as a design shop.

Courtesy of Sandra Mbanefo Obiago, the idea of showing art in a design space appears to have created a new perspective in culture presentation in Lagos.

Supported by Veuve Clicquot, Connecting the Dots runs till August 30, 2018.

A triptych titled, ‘Movement Series’, mounted in an imposing angle, leads you into Onadipe’s contemporary expression.

Between loud application of materials and the contents of the artist’s paintings or sculptures, the competing line is quite thin.

Like most artists of contemporary leaning, who are always caught between delivering a clear message and keeping materials within limit, Onadipe attempts to create a balance.

However, buried in the shouting materials of melted and remoulded plastic wastes are thought provoking issues.

Another Triptych ‘Installation Shots’, perhaps, from the ‘Movement series’ leaves one truly connecting the dots to appreciate the effect of being displaced within or outside refugees’ homeland.

In works such as, ‘Interlocked Man’ and ‘Inverted Series: We Are Not the Same But Same II’, Onadipe flaunts the diversity and eclectic textures of his relief sculptures.

While in his ‘Seed Series’, he creates a narrative around Africa, showing the continent as the beginnin of civilisation.

The artist argues, “one reason the rest of the world still needs Africa is because it’s motherland of the earth.”

However, between prospects and recovering lost glory, he notes, “to a large extent, we have thrown away that identity.”

As regards individual challenges of survival in an increasingly hostile socio-economic environment, Onadipe’s ‘Crossroad II’ series symbolises point of reflection. “The power of the right decision,” he says, is as complex for individual as irreversible wrong choice.

For Onadipe, his approach to materials for art, he boasts, helps “improve our environment.”

And between creating art for critical appreciation and art devoid of using materials as escape route out of strong concept, he insists that each work of his takes its own life irrespective of the medium applied.

“Every work has it’s own manifestation,” Onadipe notes.

“I could have just splashed paints on canvas and still call it art.”

He states that no matter the quality of colours on canvas, “it is the content that counts. Similarly, the materials I use are not a way to hide anything.”

And with a list of materials such as, re-purposed plastic shopping bags, water sachets, juice packs, cement bags and newspapers, which most times, coalesce to create sculptures, the artist is on track with his alma mater, the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

The institution’s romance with heavy material from the time of Prof. El Anatsui is everywhere.

In similar traces of Anatsui, the Nigerian art circuit has also seen growing trend in works of Nnenna Okore and Eva Obodo and others from the UNN school.

Roving around issues that expose common challenges across the world without touching the economy, particularly, global crisis will be incomplete.

A sculptural wall piece titled, ‘Pyramid’, which the artist discloses, “is inspired by the 2008 financial meltdown” captures quite some complexity of creating and losing wealth.

In fact, the recent controversial MMM, which caused so much misery to some investors and (not?) to others does not escape the artistic radar of Onadipe’s ‘Connecting the Dot’.

As an alternative space for art, Temple Muse has crept into Lagos’ art circuit at a period when artistic expressions are expanding in a city that is experiencing shrinking spaces.

So far, Temple Muse may not have provided the expansive space that most artists will want, but it has closed the gap between mainstream art appreciation circle and the outsiders – beyond the traditional patronage.

“In Connecting the Dots, we see an artist who boldly questions the status-quo, and whose art has swept him to the very cusp of the rising tide of contemporary art coming out of Nigeria,” Artistic Director of SMO and curator of the show, Obiago says.

“His expression is in-sync with the aspirations of millions of Nigerian youth trying to seek better livelihoods within a totally overburdened natural and political ecosystem.”

Onadipe graduated with a bachelors’ degree in painting from UNN in 2008 and earned a master’s degree in Fine Art, in 2012, from the University of Lagos.

He has taken part in numerous shows in the United Kingdom, Ghana and Nigeria and is in important local and international collections.


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