BusinessDay

This Land is Not For Sale: Oluwafemi Otoki insists with artwork

If you are a lover of rare art, if you like exclusive works or in love with artists that hardly exhibit, yet their works are highly sought-after by collectors and galleries, then you need to visit Signature Arts Gallery at 107 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos to see an enthralling exhibition by an artist who has mastered his craft so well.

He is no other than Oluwafemi Otoki, a Nigerian painter who is exclusively exhibited at home.

Otoki, who is known for his beautiful representation of nature, and landscapes is making a bolder statement with his This Land is Not For Sale, his ongoing exhibition at Signature Arts Gallery.

The exhibition, which started on Saturday March 19, will run until Monday March 28, 2022, with over 20 works on display.

The works testify to the creative ingenuity of the artist, as well as, riding on the success of his over three decades career in the art profession.

Part of his ingenuity is the title of the exhibition. Though the statement, This Land is Not For Sale naturally warns people to beware of possible fraudulent purchase, in the context of the exhibition, Otoki thought out of the box to get people hooked as the statement triggers curiosity, as well as, an interesting headline to readers, and just what the artist wants to achieve.

Looking at the title in another perspective, Otoki says the essence of the title is to provoke discussion on originality.

“People will look at the meaning of the title from various perspectives. The title can be weighed on political, economic or cultural point of views. It depends on the angle one sees it”, he explains.

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Speaking further he says, “This Land Is Not For Sale”, is not a normal title, the meaning suggests a fraudulent transaction anywhere and it is meant to discourage fraudulent transaction.

But in relation to arts, he insists that original painting should not be sold to more than one person.

“For instance, an art collector can only buy the original of my works. The best he can do is to duplicate the original piece of my works.

“As a people we need to do better in terms of standard. Things must be done the right way. I want to raise standards or bar in terms of originality of an artwork in order to banish mediocrity. Excellence in artwork is key so that our works can compete with the international standards”, he says.

He hopes that the title of the exhibition will spark up discussion in terms of originality art works in Nigeria, while noting that substantial works are not competitive, rather they dent the image of the original artist. “We need originality in the works of artists in Nigeria so that we can compete globally.”

As expected, the works on display speak volumes on nature and the beautiful environment. “I love nature. If you look at the works on display, you will not see artificiality, but natural scenes. What you see in these pieces are natural scenes; the green vegetation, here, reminds me of the Garden of Eden – purely natural, and not man-made. I love green because it is the color of life. I love to add life to my works”, he explains.

There are many reasons to see the exhibition. First; the works are rare; secondly, the artist wants to raise the bar in painting and thirdly, the paintings are real.

“My techniques are about realism. When you look at my paintings, they are not like photographic works, but you can still feel the brush. As you are doing the painting, you are looking at how you can harmonize colors in my works. I love realism – painting my works exactly the way they are. If you are telling a story, tell it naturally so that the generation to come will feel your works”, he concludes.

This Land is Not For Sale still runs at Signature Arts Gallery until March 28, 2022.

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