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Ogunwo’s Brushstrokes of hope More Than Meets The Eye


Exodus’, acrylic on canvas diptych, 105 x210 cm, by Bolaji Ogunwo

Disturbed by what he termed the teeming number of Nigerians seeking to relocate, Bolaji Ogunwo, a fine art teacher, with his last solo show at the International Institute for Creative Development (IICD) Centre, FCT, Abuja, titled, More Than Meets The Eye, has added his voice to the country’s narrative challenge, by providing motivational visual perspective.

His second major show in one year, More Than Meets The Eye makes it the third solo overall.

Between sustaining his signature and creating fresh canvas, Ogunwo strokes a subtle change and balance. Among such chains of styles and techniques comes a diptych titled, Exodus, which represents movement of people in general.

Draped in ethnic colours, the diptych draws attention to cross-border emigration. In bringing the essence of visual communication into the compartmented piece, Ogunwo plays around native and ethnic colours to spice up the theme.


In simplified themes, Ogunwo takes his audience through paintings that come down the ladder of art appreciation. Among such is a rendition from high angle view titled, Hope Arising.

Blending the illusion of space with expectation, Ogunwo applies the art and science of representation to create a painting that inspires those who are expectant.

If lighting technique is strength to some artists in painting, for Ogunwo, creating subtle contrast appears to boost the texture of his canvas.

His palettes inspire light and shade movements in parallel directions, creating suspense that eventually takes a common melting point in visual coherence.

Being an artist gives him the impression that even creativity can be applied to all aspects of human challenges, nationhood inclusive. He argues that places or land don’t make the people, but “the people make the places.”

For those who have chosen no other country but Nigeria, Ogunwo has something for them: “The worst is here, but the best is yet to come, hence, I’m going nowhere.”

Ogunwo’s return to the exhibition circuit, specifically, outside his academic space twice in one year, confirms the meeting of town and gown for discerning professionals across the divide.

With a debut solo titled, Chronicles in 2008, Ogunwo, a lecturer at the Creative
Arts Department, University of Lagos announced his arrival on the circuit. Six years after, he was back with Visual Cocktail, which he showed at Terra Kuture, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Tracking Ogunwo’s oeuvre – from 2008 till date – the simplicity of his themes is majorly what attracts people to his canvas. For example, domestic items and chores, usually built into his exhibits, suggest that as much as a whole lot of artists flaunt their intellectual strength and conceptual depth. Simple themes, particularly of domestic objects, are integral part of communication in visual arts.

This metaphoric of contentment could be distilled in Abundance, a simple painting of vase and its plants contents.

From three solo shows in Lagos, Ogunwo’s spreading of his canvas to the FCT Abuja expands the artist’s horizon. A gallery statement from IICD explains how the new centre assimilated the artist’s works and presented them to the art lovers in Abuja.

“We, at IICD Centre, are honoured to share with you again the immerse depth, expressive and high impressionist works of Ogunwo,” Nduwhite Ndubuisi writes.

“It is not very often that we present recent works of an artist in this manner, but this curated collection of Ogunwo’s recent works titled, More Than Meets The Eye, is outstanding. In this exhibition, he shares his position on emigration and the economic challenges facing our dear country, Nigeria. Just like every great artist that ever lived, Ogunwo is first a messenger and then, he is a patriot and strong believer in Nigeria’s future.

“In his words, ‘the upsurge of emigration in recent times has become worrisome for me as a creative luminary. Like never before, certain embassies are bombarded daily by Nigerians in a bid to obtain visas, not for vacation but obviously for permanent relocation due to lingering challenges ranging from corruption and banditry to incessant killings that permeate the nation…. Nothing seems to be working, nevertheless, there is more to this, than meets the eye,” the statement said.


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