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What we don’t see at Soto Gallery

By Tobi Awodipe
26 February 2023   |   4:06 am
Soto Gallery is set to open its doors for one of Africa’s finest artists, Ludovic Fadairo, whose solo show is holding from March 4 to April 2, 2023 at the gallery located in Ikoyi.


Soto Gallery is set to open its doors for one of Africa’s finest artists, Ludovic Fadairo, whose solo show is holding from March 4 to April 2, 2023 at the gallery located in Ikoyi.

Titled, What We Don’t See, the exhibition takes a close and comprehensive look at the long and illustrious career of the Beninese master.

At 75, his practice spans over four decades, and his output ranks among the most prodigious in contemporary art within and beyond Africa.

This exhibition is the first major survey of Fadairo’s work in Nigeria and English-speaking West Africa. A well-known and respected figure within artistic and intellectual circles in Europe, Asia, and the Americas, he will be showing works that serve as bridge between the creative and the spiritual.
Speaking with The Guardian, the artist said he started off with music and was even in a group, when in 1972, he painted something and sold it for 100 CFA and realised he was on to something. “I played different instruments as a musician, but so many people were doing music and were hungry without much prospect. When I realised I could get money from art and there were not so many artists around, I decided to focus on art fully. I went to Holland to fine tune my skills and that was the start of my journey.”

Fadairo revealed that he grew up in a traditional family that worshipped traditional gods, but decided to search for God on his own, and this spirituality is what influences his work. “This is what makes my work unique and sophisticated,” he says.

After participating in FESTAC’77, Fadairo, who is originally from Ife, Osun State, said he is proud and excited to be exhibiting solo for the first time and describes it as a homecoming for him.

On what emotions he wants his art to evoke in viewers, Fadairo said he tries to look for God in everything he does and in every person, because God is everywhere. “I try to bring deep meaning into my works so that generations unborn can see it reflected in my art.”

Director, Soto Gallery, Tola Akerele, said with this show, “we hope to help begin the process of reevaluating Fadairo’s place in the canon of African art. He is a pioneer whose contributions, given due assessment, should remain relevant for at least another few generations. His paintings have been shown in the great art capitals of the world so we consider this exhibition evidence of Lagos’s rising esteem as well as a significant achievement for Soto. I have seen his works over the years and couldn’t pass up the opportunity for him to showcase here.”

Fadairo’s oeuvre encompasses painting, installation, sculpture and works in mixed media. He seeks to understand the media he employs, which range from the traditional to the highly unorthodox including chalks and natural pigments. His three-dimensional figures are imaginative, emotive, and charged with immediacy. Fadairo’s perfect control of detail emerges and develops as the artist breathes life into various symbols and compelling themes. Fadairo’s work has been exhibited across Europe and Asia.


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