With Index Season II, Amoda interrogates gender, consumerism
With issues such as trumpism, puritanism, right-wing populism and terrorism currently dominating TV screens and social media feeds, it is not surprising that a great number of the general public is engaging in politics and protests, as currency of discourse. The increased interest in the act of protest, occupy, sit-outs, in its many forms – particularly marches and demonstrations – has also led to an outpouring of creativity on both professional and personal levels.
In Index Season ii, which opened at Art Twenty One, Eko Hotel and Suite, Victoria Island, Lagos, on March 25, 2017, Olu Amoda draws the audience’s attention to this political gridlock plaguing the world today. He uses leaves as a metaphor to address the issue.
Creating metal sculptures that evoke the changing colours of the four seasons, Amoda compares the individual leaves to human relationships, bunched together in social interconnectedness. As an isolated object, the leaves are meticulously sculpted to show their unique shapes and characteristics. And as a collection, they form an abstract, geometric mass that binds the sculpture as a cohesive whole. Just as the tree’s foliage changes colour in different seasons, the collective nation goes through different stages and journeys.
In other works in the exhibition, Amoda continues his investigation into the organic processes of our natural world. He depicts insects cross-pollinating with vegetation, as well as circular forms sculpted from repurposed welded nails, cubes and scroll motifs.
Using the circular shape as a reoccurring visual element, Amoda makes references to the globe or the human eye. Like the isolated leaves that form a unit, so too do his circular sculptures attest to a cyclical pattern of human life. The nails reveal a narrative of shared responsibility, with each part integral in keeping the whole as one.
The show provides a true test of eyesight, as well as of the spirit, as there is an unmissable sense of products reaching their perfect form. And navigating through is like a trek through the Sahara or Kalahari – without a compass.
The exhibition ground is packed with minutely observed flowers, all metallically beaten into a whole that look miraculously real. As you walk through the 600 sq. metre space and platform dedicated to contemporary art in Lagos, you’re surrounded by a miniature garden of metals. They are meant to look real and startling. However, like a book, the actual moment of anagnorisis is when you begin to open the pages of the show, and seeing what lies before you.
The show presents the artist’s newest body of work created over the past two years. But, in using subtle protests, as creative metaphor, Amoda is not subjected to a time frame. It is not even an issue, as he has more pressure on him than usual to engineer a revelatory experience.
According to him, “it is a lot easier if you focus. My work is coming from the urban sprawl; I read newspapers and watch football matches and things that we do to relax; that’s what keeps me going. You learn more when you’re not studying.”
While Amoda’s works explore universal aspects of humanity, they are also rooted in news headlines and current events. Skimming over early incarnation, the season inches on in the beaten metal. He invests in layers of artistry that unfold, as the audience looks deeper. He then allows them to form their opinions. As a result, he does not feel any sense of loss when people do not arrive at messages he intends.
What stands him out is the range of media he employs: Domestic interiors, portraits, nudes, landscapes, lucobonds, metals and all manner of creative expressions.
From Love Nest (2016), welded aluminum of 250cm x 250cm to Nectar Suck (2016) welded aluminum of 200cm x 200cm, the body of work suggest that humanity must be considered as an ever-evolving process that shares affinity with one another. Set amidst these diverse works is a makeshift vehicle, created from a repurposed canoe and castor, an apt foreshadowing of our turbulent political times.
The lighting rod of the show is Marion Jones. The macho frame and sculpted body of the disgraced American athlete took Amoda close to a decade to weave in intricate and complex metal fragments, measuring 12 feet high and weighing over 1000kg, and flown in from America for the show.
His interest in the feminine figure is not only captured in the Olympic medalist, Marion Jones, but in Ms Red and Ms Orange (2017), mixed media drawings on board of 166cm x 126cm.
Amoda focuses on the female form, with silhouettes, profiles and close-up perspectives of women. He fixes his gaze, like a voyeur, at the women’s bodies, hairstyles and dress, capturing the figures in contemplation and in deep thought. His voyeuristic expedition nudges you to respect the female fertility.
Like Rubens, his women are healthy and challenging. They are fertile, fleshy and abundant in a way that the African world generally admires, because of their motherly softness.
Amoda goes further to bunch leaves in a harmonious, close knit web that captures the changing colours of the four seasons – namely Autumn, Spring, Winter and Summer, and for Nigeria, the rainy, dry and harmattan seasons, which, as a collection, represents humanity bonded by love, hope, peace and co-existence. This clearly demonstrates the artist’s belief and concern about the current political and economic crises threatening global peace and security.
In the organisers statement, “Amoda’s sculptures combine discarded metal fragments to form hybrid figurative and abstract installations. His works often incorporate rusty nails, metal plates, bolts, pipes and rods that are welded together to create figures, animals, flora and ambiguous forms. Amoda uses these materials to explore socio-political issues relating to Nigerian culture today, including gender, privacy, consumerism and economic distribution.”
Amoda said, “The ever-changing political climate and social unrests is the philosophy behind Index Season ii.”
He calls himself a forensic artist because he gets deeply connected to the materials he processes into something else. According to him, the choice of discarded materials was clear as an archaeological perspective of the natural objects, in direct contact with human beings, forms part of his investigation and research into the organic processes of our natural world.
“I see myself as a modern day archeologist. But I don’t have to excavate. On the surface I see objects. Every object tells me something about the first user. I am interested in objects that have had contacts with human beings. And by so doing, I will be able to use it to either live in the period when the object was created, or use it to navigate the present circumstances. I also pretend to be a forensic artist. That means, it’s like a crime has happened. I don’t interfere with the materials. I want people to have that connection between the first user and the second user. If I use fresh materials it is because I want to mimic.”
He adds, “I have the opportunity to forge alliance with the materials. I hear what they speak to me. I then try to convert people to see these objects in a different light. When I use nails unapologetically, for example, people start to see them from a perspective different from the way they used to.”
Through avalanche of metal structures and sculptures that incorporate rusty nails, discarded iron rods, bolts and stainless steels, Amoda welds together figures and abstracts in perfect harmony that drew the audience’s attention to jigsaw political puzzles and economic integration plaguing our world.
He continues: “I would not say my works are based on recycled materials. The materials are sourced from repurposed welded nuts, bolts, iron rods and scroll motifs to create visual elements depicting our world.”
The third solo show of Amoda at the venue ends June 25, 2017.