For Bolaji Alonge, Beauty is in the Lens of the Beholder

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BY Olufunke Adepuji

“In the evening, the real me comes alive,” Bolaji Alonge muses. “I can feel it, something happens that I cannot describe… And it helps me to survive.” With these words, the dreadlocks-sporting photographer, whose solo exhibition, Urban Culture: Historical Continuity, opened on November 11 at One Draw Gallery along Norman Williams Street in Ikoyi, Lagos, savours a typical nightlife scene in Berkely Street in the Obalende area of the city.

The exhibition, which was curated by Segun Adejumo, ended today Sunday, November 25 and features photographs, which not only romanticised nature and its wonders – as could be discerned in his snapshot of a tiny green frog in the work “Opolo – but also explored the beauty of urban culture and human interaction.

Indeed, the photographer, who also moonlights as both an actor and a journalist, told a coterie of journalists in a recent media briefing that he sought to portray beauty in unexpected places. For in the course of his travels to locations across the country, he has captured rare images of people and places just for the fun of it. He owes his impressive portfolio of works more to his passion than for pecuniary reasons.

Besides his underwater snapshots of aquatic life taken in Lagos and in Wikki Warm Springs, at the Yankari Game Reserve in Bauchi State – testimonials of his scuba diving pastime – he also has engaging images of a street scene in the Osun State capital Osogbo, remote areas in Epe, Lagos and the Asaba end of Niger Bridge leading into Onitsha, among others.

Alonge’s photographic offerings wrench the viewers from their comfort zones and offer them alternative visions to the chaotically urbanised Lagos. Besides the nearby rustic settlements of Lagos State, there are also far-flung rural settings in the hinterland.

Beyond the engaging still images lurks the artist’s optimistic take on a better future for Nigeria.

In the resilience of the people, he sees the promise of a future society free from corruption and strife.

The first-born of five siblings, the University of Lagos graduate of mass communication owes his passion to photography first to his dad, who was in the Nigerian Air Force. Of course, there were also the influences of his many travels around the world during the past decade.

– Adepuji writes from Lagos