NGA honours ‘reluctant rebel’, Jimoh Akolo
The National Gallery of Art (NGA), last week, opened a show in honour of the revered administrator, scholar and painter, Professor Jimoh B. Akolo.
The exhibition, which brought together dignitaries from all walks of life, featured mainly drawings and paintings of Akolo.Some of the artworks on display include, Plant Life Series (1), The Model (life drawing), Horn Blower (from Southern Kaduna welcoming the governor) as well as Test of Manhood.
The works are presentational and comprising mainly of human figures. While The Model is a classical drawing of a young, elegant woman, others, mostly royal figures on horses, reveal the ingenuity of Akolo as a master artist. Other works on show are painting of a typical Northern setting as captured in colourful and elaborate costume of the palace.
The opening, which also had the public presentation of a book about Akolo and his works, had in attendance, political office holders, art lovers, diplomatic community as well as traditional rulers, including the Etsu Nupe and Chairman, Niger State Council of Traditional Rulers, Alhaji (Dr.) Yahaya Abubakar, who was the royal father of the day.
In his opening remarks, the Acting Director General (NGA), Dr. Simon Odey Ikpakronyi, extolled the virtues of Akolo, adding that he was one of the early graduates of the famous Nigeria College of Arts, Science and Technology (NCAST), Zaria, the precursor of the present Ahmadu Bello University.
Professor Akolo, he recalled, belonged to the generation of Prof. Yusuf Grillo, Prof. Uche Okeke (late), Prof. Bruce Onobrakpeya, Emmanuel Okechukwu Odita and Demas Nwoko, who became well known as the ‘Zaria rebels’.
“Though Akolo was initially part of the Zaria Art Society, popularly known or referred to as the ‘rebels’, he had to part ways with them at a point for personal reasons.
“He can, therefore, be safely referred to as the ‘reluctant rebel’. He was with the society for only three months. He returned to ABU in 1966 as a faculty member in the Department of Education, where he played key roles for many years in reshaping it for greater efficiency.
“But more importantly, he churned out art works that were and still socially relevant. Happily, many of his art works are available and here for us to view while the book contains rare insight on the man,” Ikpakronyi stated. Stating the reason for celebrating Akolo, the Acting D.G informed that NGA has taking it as a befitting project to celebrate and document Nigerian visual art icons.
According to him, majority of Akolo’s contemporaries have been documented and there are others lined up after him, including Demas Nwoko, who would be documented next.
For the royal father, Alhaji Abubakar, he was attending NGA functions for the third consecutive times and was motivated by the commitment of the agency to promote visual art in particular and arts generally.He added that while the exhibition was a unique demonstration of the creative and artistic exploits of Akolo, the book would provide insight into the man and the road he has had to travel to get to the heights he attained both as an artist and a scholar.
The traditional ruler, therefore, called on parents to allow their children, particularly, those who show interest in the art, to develop their talent and build career in it. “May I at this point implore the traditional rulers at all levels to encourage their subjects to allow their children who show interest in visual art to study and practice it.
“This way, we would be bringing out more of the likes of Professor Akolo who is being celebrated today.”Also at the event was the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Ekanemo Oyo-Ita; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Culture, Deaconess, Grace Gekpe as well as the chairman of board, NGA, Ambassador Umaru Azores Sulaiman.