Following its successful exhibitions this year, Soto Gallery is pleased to present ‘To Hold a Gaze: Lives & Stories in the Informal Economy’.
The solo show is an exhibition of new paintings, photography and sound installations by Tunde Owolabi, a full-time studio and multidisciplinary artist.
The show opens at Soto Gallery Ikoyi with a private viewing on July 1, 2023, and further opens to the public on July 2 – 16,2023.
In the exhibition, which is Owolabi first with Soto Gallery, the artist uses a series of eleven portraits to consider the pervasiveness of so-called informal work alongside the increasing marginalization of informal workers.
As the title suggests, Owolabi believes that key to understanding the contradiction between apparent ubiquity on the one hand and conditional visibility on the other lies, in part at least, on what a society, and the individuals who shape it, decide is worthy of close and prolonged regard, on what it allows to linger in its line of sight, and who it allows to look back.
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The people who look back in these portraits, with few alterations, are drawn from life, positioned, in the process of plying their trades, exactly as the artist met them.
The chance encounters were central to the development of the project as they offered Owolabi the chance to record both the likeness and setting of his subjects as well as an effect of compressed energy—the result of finding moments of stillness and connection in the busyness of midday Lagos. The works in To Hold a Gaze are reminders that such encounters are not only possible but necessary.
Tunde Owolabi is a full-time studio artist whose practice spans painting, photography, textile, and graphic design. Under the tutelage of the late Professor Abayomi Barber, he began painting professionally in the early 2000s, after graduating from Yaba College of Technology with a degree in Graphic Design.
Alongside his work as a painter, he is the founder and creative director of Ethnik Afrika, a multidisciplinary Afrocentric design and photography studio based in Lagos. As a designer, his works are diverse, exploring different materials, especially Aso-Oke, a woven fabric. As a textile designer, his goal is to tell the African story through patterns and color, one weave at a time. He has participated in a few group exhibitions and solos within and outside Nigeria.