In Blaque: Olayemi Fagbohungbe points to need to leap forward
…debut exhibition runs till October 17th
If you are among those who are optimistic about the Black race, its heritage, and its people rising to achieve great things, impact and rule the world, then you are a friend and also share the same ideology with Olayemi Fagbohungbe.
Born and raised in Zaria, Nigeria, the trained architect and passionate visual artist, is among young African professionals who question the status quo in their field and the society at large.
He believes that the boundary of what is achievable can be pushed and should be pushed across all fields including political leaders and other areas that have kept the country from achieving the true giant of Africa it should be since independence.
Taking a critical look at architecture, his profession, the enterprising professional decries, “I look at many of the great buildings and architectural designs in Ahmadu Bello University, for example, and they are all by foreigners, Europeans mostly. It makes me wonder: where are our great architects?”
Instead of asking questions that will never be answered, he went for solutions by taking to visual art to express himself and also to refocus attention on why Black is beautiful, why we should love our black heritage and why our blackness is not a limitation, but the potential to achieve greatness.
In doing this, Olayemi is staging his debut art exhibition titled ‘Blaque’ at The Art Pantheon Gallery, which is located at #12D, Bosun Adekoya Street, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.
On display at the exhibition, which opened on October 10, 2021, and runs until October 17th are 18 enthralling works, all cast in bronze. The debut exhibition is worth seeing because it is a combination of five years’ works by the artist who had over seven years of training at the Universal Art Studio with some masters of art who gave him great tutelage.
There are some series among the works like the question series, which the artist says the reason for the title is that if you want to leap forward, there are questions to answer; like in the situation of Nigeria and once you can answer these questions, you are halfway to solving the problem.
Speaking further, he notes that Blaque is a desire to inspire a renewed belief in the potential of the black race. “As well, through patient artistry, the exhibition brings to the fore works that deconstruct deeply entrenched stereotypes and inferiority complexes: black as second fiddle, black as the “dark,” black as stuck in the past.
“One of the things that trigger my interest is that I see a lot of people seeing black or we being black as a curse, rather than blessing”, he decries.
“I see a lot of people associate themselves with White people all the time; they want foreign treatment, foreign cloth and foreign education, and as a result, we neglect where we are coming from. A lot of people even lose their cultural heritage in the process.”
He notes that the exhibition title relates to the Nigerian situation where despite the huge human capital and natural resources, yet the country has little to show for it.
On his choice of bronze, he notes that he is making a statement with bronze because Africa is rich and blessed, but little to show for it. “So, in trying to show the wealth of Africa, that is why I chose the bronze medium. It is very expensive to do and the elaborate bases cost a lot.
“If you look at the body of work, and a piece like this, you will understand that I am saying that we are rich, and you are seeing the richness in the work and the materiality speak for itself, the stainless is 304, one of the high-grade non-resistance stainless and very thick”.
Also commenting on the artist and his works, Nana Sonoiki, director, Art Pantheon Gallery and the curator of the exhibition, commends Olayemi’s creative ingenuity and the ability to work perfectly with a difficult medium like bronze, yet coming out with enthralling works.
She urges the public to visit the gallery to see the works and also appreciate the multi-disciplinary and talented architect and artist.
The exhibition opened on October 10 and runs until October 17, 2021, at The Art Pantheon Gallery, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.