Visual Memoirs at Art Incubator


Yinka Olatunbosun

Caution: a visitor to an art gallery would do well to avoid sitting on just anything as he might be told it is an installation. Same goes for hastily assuming that a painter at work would be dressed in paint-stained clothes. Sodiq Williams, an architect and artist, was sporting a white t-shirt and a pair of white trousers whilst applying a few more strokes to the canvases that lined the wall at Silverbird Galleria, Victoria Island, where Revolving Art Incubator is domiciled. That evening was the private preview to his first solo exhibition which is a multiple display of artistic expressions in visual and performance art.

Sodiq lived a good part of his life in the United Kingdom. For him, as well as many Africans in diaspora, identity is a daunting social reality. Add to that his personal experience during the 2007 London bombing, which triggered a wave of consciousness in him. As a young man, he had studied philosophy and developed martial art skills. It was only natural for all his experience to seep into the theme of his show with the title, Memoirs of A Black Box. Like the flight recorder called the black box, Williams’ brain is a repository of a broad frame of experiences which he tapped into to create a body of works that question the notions of the four elements of existence namely Body, Mind, Soul (Heart and Spirit). Through the works, he documents culture and tradition.

“I am approaching the subject matter from a fluid and dualistic position exploring the notions of ‘Me is We’ philosophy made famous by Mohammed Ali in relation to history, appropriation and negritude using sequence as a metaphor to collate a narrative through date, time, object and events,” Williams said.

Williams may be an abstract artist but the subject matters in his paintings are quite comprehensible. In some of them, he explores the relationship between the western and African worldview using the Yoruba wrestling and swordsmanship motifs in “Ijakadi and Ijagbokiti” to examine post- colonialism.

Other areas of interest for Williams in the works include collectivism and individualism. Williams is deep, but his artistic expressions may be deeper in imagery and experiential dialogue in African cultural heritage.