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With Blaque, Fagbohungbe spotlights Africa’s llight

By Omiko Awa
07 November 2021   |   2:41 am
With a firm belief that the black race has all it takes to rule the world, Olayemi Fagbohungbe recently held a solo show titled, Blaque, to pass this message.

With a firm belief that the black race has all it takes to rule the world, Olayemi Fagbohungbe recently held a solo show titled, Blaque, to pass this message.

Held from October 10 to 17, 2021 at The Art Pantheon, Oniru, Lagos, the exhibition showed installations, moulded metal on contemporary basement in bronze and sculpture.

Born and bred in Zaria, the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) and University of Lagos-trained architect and artist disclosed that the solo show aimed to show that the black race is not by any means inferior to other races, stressing that according to history, Africa is the birth place of human race and epicentre of civilsation.

Fagbohungbe noted that other intentions of Blaque include the desire to inspire a renewed belief in the potential of the black race, adding that it hopes to use the arts to bring to the fore some deconstructed works that are deeply entrenched in stereotypes and inferiority complexes.

The artist disclosed that in the past five years, he has been working on abstract figurative as a way of exploring the emancipation of the black race, saying Africa is endowed with great potential, which, if properly harnessed and put to good use, the people will not live in penury as currently experienced in different parts of the continent.

Explaining the concept, he said: “Blaque connotes great wealth, life in full, abundance, pride, dignity, creativity, power, irreducibility, among others. The concept depicts that black people are rich and should by no means live like paupers; if we can imbibe this mindset, work with it, things will turn around for good and it will be well for every one of us.”

Fagbohungbe actually showed this in the piece titled ‘A máa te síwájú’ (progress or move forward), which says depite the layback the continent is in a way advancing forward, especially as black people are making progress in all fronts across the globe. He stressed that such progress should as well be reflected in our thinking and local communities.

According to him, in a world that undervalues black people and black contributions to civilisation, it is not easy to rise above everything — including our own complexes and failure to take charge of our own progress — to get to the top.

In the installations titled, Questioning I to IV, Fagbohungbe said they are to prompt Africans to break free from their current lethargic and soar to greater heights.

The architect-turned-artist, however, noted that to soar high, Africans must first start by asking the right questions: find solutions to the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’. He disclosed that if Africans can provide the right answers to these, backing them up with the right actions, then we are on the right path to positive change.

With Skulls, the artist showed sympathy for the continents unsung heroes, and citizens cruelly killed on daily basis, saying life is a struggle and there abound the victors and the vanquished.

Explaining further on Africa’s development, he said: “Firstly, I like to deconstruct rigid notions and automatic assumptions. Also, we should know that it is essential the works that make people re-examine their opinions and assumptions. Secondly, life is and would, for all we can tell, remains difficult. We have to embrace that and continue creating within that constraint.”

Exposed to the Hausa traditional building at an early age and later the modern buildings in the Southern parts of the country, Fagbohungbe at young age drew inspiration from these two regions to study architecture.

According to him, while studying architecture he realised that there is no architecture without arts; so, finishing school, he delved deeper into the arts, using it to express his imagination.

On how he has been able to combine arts and architecture, he said: “I realised there is no architecture without arts and upon completing my studies in architecture I found a thirst to further my curiosity in the arts, and sculpture became so appealing to me because of the creative freedom it offers in three-dimensional expression. So, every piece I design, every artwork I create, begins with a narrative. If there is no narrative, the work cannot be made.

“There has to be a story. So, whenever I design something it is just there; that is creativity and depth of imagination,” he said.

Now that the exhibition has come and gone, the artist said the message it left behind will keep on reverberating, especially as it called attention for black people across the globe to leave all the blame game — that it was the explore of Africa that has made to the people poor — and put all their resources together to march the people forward.

According to him, Africans have the intelligence, knowledge and resources to advance forward, but are deficient in coordinating their resources to make their continent the envy of all.