A cross section of the miniature works on display
Adewale Alimi and Richardson Ovbiebo’s (Dis) Placement show at the Terra Kulture dealt with flipsides of the megacity tag, Adewole Ajao writes
The tell-tale signs were virtually scrawled on the wall before they found their way into Adewale Alimi’s miniatures. Another exhibition at the Terra Kulture, and much of the ongoing changes was evident in a new collection he and Richardson Ovbiebo put together under the title, [Dis] Placement. Forged by their interests in the downsides of the megacity tag synonymous with the Lagos metropolis, it inspired 25 pieces of multifarious art exhibited at the Terra Kulture from July 13.
In the weeklong show, history also played a role, according to light-complexioned Ovbiebo, who is yet to get over his love for doors: the central his last show. He deems the new route inevitable, while alluding to previous episodes like the Maroko and 1004 evictions which fired much of his inspiration. Call this the power of appropriation.
“I just wanted to zoom into accommodation and what the future holds for Lagosians based on this megacity dream it is holding,” explained the artist. “The idea is still hinged on population size. We are celebrating the status but what are we doing to forestall the fallout of issues like flooding?”
The frail nexus man had established with an environment he has little control over comes to life in the art. When pushed to the limits, nature plays a fast one on its violators via natural disasters which strike without warning. But amidst this realisation about the ephemeral state of land, humans continue struggling for it. Ovbiebo argues that it clashes the “this land is not for sale” tag dotting many houses, an adage he reworked to fit his conspicuous work of copper and glass which was the model of a skyscraper balanced on facial silhouettes across the phrase “This Property is for Sale”.
“Even the Caveat Emptor, how many people know what it is and isn’t the town itself really for sale or for the highest bidder?” he queried with some sarcasm.
Political inclinations are not unexpected from the pair whose show is one of the fallouts of a blossoming friendship. Recalling how the seeds had been sown when they met during a previous exhibition, Alimi also fingers the roots of his landscape series. His continued romance with abstraction is echoed in his “Occupy Lagos” scene, “Children of Ijora Badia”, “Bar Beach”, “beautiful imperfection” and “Lagos-Brazilian legacy” –a diptych that stood along other depictions with letterings on them.
Traces of bright colouration run riot on the pristine canvases he has nursed a fetish for since a previous show with Toyin Omolowo at the Artistic License Gallery in 2008. Amidst his obscured imagery, the delirious detail of the colours reveal hues that say a lot about Alimi’s feelings towards the changes in a city he lives in.
“The new yellow is being taken over by the blue and red,” he remarked about the transport system. “There is no way you want to depict Lagos without doing that. I am just a social commentator that documents what is going on. I am not trying to be political, it is just good for people to come together and air their opinions. It is all about people forming their opinion via this exhibition.”
Much of the pressure on the environment by a soaring population is apparent in Ovbiebo’s mixed media series. Door jams on wooden panels and the “Face Me I Face You” tag spoke much of the strain being put on meagre accommodation. His meticulous attention to detail is crowned with “Without Borders” – a huge door that has three sides, one more than a show title that is ambiguous.
With a very well crafted outpouring, the duo admitted that some perceivable loose ends could inspire a sequel. With new trends igniting movement outside Lagos, and novel towns springing up to cater for the paucity of metropolis space, the door was still open to further exploration according to Ovbiebo.
“It is not closed but open. This is a starting point. The next one will have these. A creative world with multiple reasons is good, and the artist also learns,” he said.