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Saturday, 17 November 2012 00:00
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Art appreciation is declining, few people now buy works ­­ Obayan

OLUSHOLA Obafemi Obayan is an artist and a lecturer at Federal College of Education (Technical), Akoka, Lagos. A graduate of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria  and  University of Lagos, respectively, Obayan is renowned for his creative use of curls of spirals and lines in his works, as well as his passion for colours.

He is a member of Society of Nigeria Artist (SNA) and Movement for Creative Drawing (MCD). In this interview, the Ondo state born artist talks on his engagements with multi-directional lines, shapes and forms, and his style which he calls Ila Ona. He is also discloses why he left graphics for painting and his exhibition  My Fingers on Pattern, writes TONY OKUYEME.

His is a world of lines, colours and patterns; a world of his intricately executed textured patterns of  works that are reputed to have the “ability of engaging the beholders, such that the more they look; the more they see”. Such is the creative artistic world of Olushola Obafemi Obayan.

From a curious young secondary school student seeking expression in drawing to a graphic artist, visualiser and illustrator, Obayan, enamoured by colours and influenced by the works master artists,  is today a painter.

Born in Akoko in Ondo State, Obayan  grew up in Kwara State and the Northern part of the country.   His career as an artist began in Offa where  he had his primary and secondary school education.

“I attended Ogidiri Primary School, and Offa Grammar School,  both in Offa, Kwara state, respectively. After that I went to  Kwara Stale College of Education. Then for my NCE.  And after that I went to  Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria  and  University of Lagos,  where I had  my Bachelor of Arts (Industrial Design) and Master in Visual Arts, respectively.

My father who was a teacher, could draw very well then and my mother was a matron in the school. I had a passion for the art which I think is a  vocational thing. God gave us that talent and the vision to know that the way the country was going on one needs a vocational skill to see where one can interpret so that one can make a living.

“So after my NCE at  Kwara Stale College of Education, I went to ABU to face the challenges  in art. And that time I was giving what I wanted to study at ABU which is graphics. It was under the faculty of Environmental Designs, ABU. The faculty was a school on its own when you are talking about creativity, and when you are talking about the Nigerian art, I think that school stands out.

I worked in advertising agencies as a visualizer and illustrator. I also worked with Newswatch Publications, before I left for academics which I believe will give me opportunity to research and experiment on some of my materials that we had been using in the agency.

In those days in advertising agencies, you copy things and hardly you put your own creativity to that level. So, I proceeded to Federal College of Education (Technical), Akoka, Lagos, as assistant lecturer. Thank God today I am presently a Lecturer I, and I have spent close to 12 years there, Obayan said, adding that art is a trade, and it is very important for the country to support it.”

His collection of works which he tagged My Fingers on Pattern,  is according to him, a style which is an admixture of elements of ulism with onaism, and that the intricately executed textured patterns of the works have the ability of engaging the beholders, such that the more they look; the more they see. Here him: “The curls of spirals and multidirectional lines and other patterns are maturely rendered within the spatial format of each work. As such, aesthetic harmony created is in excellent unity with the choice of his colours, shapes and forms. With these qualities, the wholeness of each work cannot be fully browsed at a glance.”

As critics note, “one can notice that the introduction of these multiple elements into his works does not create disproportion, rowdiness or crowdedness. Rather, one sees Sola Obayan as an artist who is capable of playing with multiplicity of geometric and linear features to create aesthetic values with effortless success.

His pictorial compositions are deft in creativity. Some of them combine aquatic, architectural and commonplace objects in their renditions. While some works reveal surfaces that are segmented, others are interwoven in seamless fashion. The colours communicate an aura of chiaroscuro quality, whereby sharp contrasts between tints and shades are noticed in the entire use of colours. The colours, which are sometimes monochromatic and complimentary tones, are painstakingly laid and overlaid.

“The works appease the sensibilities of its beholders. Like a crusader, he dwells more on commonplace truths, social observations, and cultural imperatives. Generally, his works portray him as an artist with unique talent which he puts on view through his aesthetic and culture-crucial works.”

For a man whose first medium for artistic expression was graphics, his foray into paintings comes as striking. Obayan hinted that he had to go painting at his masters level
“When I was in school when I was studying graphics, I had some of my collegues that we had electives together in ABU, that we stayed together in a room. 

I used to look at some of their works closely, and some of them too used to come to my own studio to look at my own works. It was then I became very interested in colour appreciation. That was what challenge me to start those my concept. But essentially, it was the works of Dr. Kunle Fulani that inspired me to go for painting.

“When I came to college of Education (Technical, Akoka Lagos,) I saw some of his works, and I was relating with them. In fact,  I was sleeping with his works because there was no day I did not see his work. So, later, I decided to start doing something in painting. Since then, I have been working hard, and I still have a lot of collections now.”
Obayan hinted that it has however not been easy. The challenges he said, are high, especially because of low patronage.

“Art appreciation is declining, few people buy works these days. Sometimes when you showcase your works in an exhibition, people would say they are good and quite interesting and that the colours are okay, but eventually only one or two percent of these people would buy the works. I believe things will change; when the economy grows, art too will grow.

“As an artist you have a target and you must keep on working. If say because the society is not appreciating it well you stop working, then you will be out of the system. So you must continue to work and one day things will improve. Thank God I am still working and some of my works, I ignore them when I finished painting. I keep them somewhere, and I know that one day the market will come.

By God's grace, next, I will do my solo exhibition where I will showcase my style which is unique.

My style is Ila-Ona (lines of stars). I use more lines in my works, that is why I called it Ila-Ona. It is getting to almost nine years since I have been working with this style. Whenever you look at some of my works too, you could see that they depict more lines.

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