ADEOLA BALOGUN: SOUNDSPIRATION
May 3-17, 2013
From May 3 to 17, 2013, Omenka Gallery will present Soundspiration, an exhibition of sculptures and sound installation by one of Nigeria’s remarkable contemporary sculptors, Adeola Balogun. The exhibition, first for the gallery this year, will add to a deeper understanding of the artist’s technique and working methods.
Born in 1966 in Ogun State, Adeola Balogun is one of the most exciting sculptors working in Nigeria today. He belongs to an exceptional generation of artists firmly establishing themselves on the Lagos exhibition circuit with their embrace of unconventional media and techniques, and their interrogation of the larger society. Balogun’s works continue to spark interest with his recent series of bulls fashioned out of rubber tyres. Coupled with a successful career as a lecturer in sculpture at the prestigious Yaba College of Technology, Balogun holds an eminent place among Nigerian contemporary artists.
Soundspiration, Balogun’s forthcoming sixth solo exhibition offers an opportunity to examine the wide variety of media that he skillfully manipulates. As with his recent installations, the works presented here are made from his preferred medium – the rubber tyre and explore new directions in departure from his earlier theme of animals.
The exhibition features largely contorted forms of musicians and dancers who handle real musical instruments such as the violin, saxophone and talking-drums in simulated performance, underscoring the artist’s enchantment over the years with music as the vehicle of thoughtful reflection. The exhibition also features hanging sculptures in relief, embellished with paint that blur the boundaries between painting and sculpture, betraying the artist’s mastery of both genres. A sound accompaniment completes the artist’s framework for Soundspiration. Each separate component – the tyre, musical instrument and sound, contributes layers of meaning to establish several possibilities in interpreting the works, which on first impression seem almost folkloric.
Art historian, Dr Babásèhìndé Adémúlèyá suggests “These are inseparably connected with the social, economic, political and religious pattern of his age. An age marked by bad governance, ethno-racism and civil unrest, fuelled by indiscipline, corruption and social injustice.”
Balogun’s juxtaposition of rubber and jazz instruments like the saxophone, trumpet and drums tend to probe the complex web of interactions between Africa and the West. Identifying West Africa as the origin of jazz, Daniela Roth once wrote, “Africa must market itself better and not follow the eternal cycle of raw material export.” Indeed, Africa has not profited much from the marketing of this music and suffers the indignity of importing finished products including the rubber tyre, which Balogun employs to bemoan Africa’s dilemma.
The musical accompaniment to the exhibition unavoidably draws comparisons between the high incidence of noise pollution in Nigeria and socio-political instability, and how we define ourselves amidst these challenges. As Balogun explains, “Deafening sound is continuously generated in our environment, which inflicts serious health hazards on people. It is imperative and pertinent to reduce noise in whatever guise for a saner society.”
The artist also asserts he employed the tyre as medium, as a way of disposing of it safely to “Reduce the inherent health challenge that could arise from its improper disposal” as commonly witnessed in our society.
Drawing from the tranquil of jazz, the artists weaves an ambience that substitutes the expected rowdy sounds of petrol traffickers, with the expressive multi-layered texture of music from the African continent resonating in the woven strips of rubber-cut, bent, and stretched to almost breaking point to exemplify the complex negotiation between history and the contemporary.
Adeola Balogun’s work can be found in several important collections. He has also participated in several significant group exhibitions locally and internationally. He is a member of the Society of Nigerian Artists.
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High resolution images and more information on the artist are available on request.