Like Attracts Like, steel, acrylic, 36×36 x 9 inch, 2017 by Adeola Balogun
Between conceptual and aesthetic value of art, sculptor, Adeola Balogun finds a common space to divulge metaphoric contents of socio-ethno and political emotion. This much radiates in the artist’s solo exhibition of a body of work in metal titled Bubbles of Emotion held at Omenka Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Balogun, whose work in the last 10 years has been largely devoid of figural representations, comes into his newest exhibition with a bit of human imagery. But the figure sculptures are dwarfed in numerical strength by the artist’s well-known abstraction signature. In thematic context, emotive commentators on national issues, particularly in the unfolding nationhood challenge of Nigeria, come into the metallic mastery art of Balogun.
Also, the exhibition draws an interesting curatorial line between the floor placement and wall-mounted works of art. Either in flattened or erected forms, the floor works enrich the entire curatorial concept despite the non-expansive space of the gallery. Adding to the entire beauty of the exhibits is the bouncing of spotlights off the colourful objects. Undoubtedly, it’s an advantage of Balogun’s kind of form in metal. Hardly would any other medium be as lighting friendly as exuded in the synergised energy between objects and light.
For quite a number of the wall sculptures, the artist continues his musical theme attachment to wind instruments such as saxophone and trumpet. These musical instrument contents form a body of the mixed media part of some of the pieces in oval metal. In his last two or three previous exhibitions, Balogun had experimented with wind instruments as mixed media.
Two seated sculptures titled ‘An Attempt in Perpetuity’ and ‘Vestiges of the Past’ bring both aesthetic and metaphoric contents into the exhibits. For example, a full skeletal figure sculpture dropped in wheel chair speaks in subsistence term about Africa’s political landscape of ageing leaders. Perhaps, the figure – a satirical depiction – expands the debate about what has been described as unprepared generation of youths for leadership versus ageing political class, who go to state houses and parliaments to retire. Sometimes, the choice is hard to make by the electorates at polling stations: a state house as old people’s home or the same seat of government as cash cow for youth treasury looters.
Balogun’s immediate environment forms the crust of theme for his work. Specifically, the ongoing hurricane of emotions generated from socio- political and ethnocentric differences comes into play.
“If you look at our environment socially, politically and economically, there’s a lot going on and with these, you hear all sorts of lamentations from people verging on emotional outbursts,” Balogun notes. “This is because of the fact that people are allowing their emotions to override their sense of judgement and when that happens, certainly there’ll be problems.”
Among what looks like design pieces are ‘Like Attracts Like,’ an oval of large and small, glazed in pink colour; a globe shaped with cloud painting in skyline form titled ‘Precarious Journey’ and a floor placement, ‘Our Earth Just A Dot,’ also oval with semblance of blankness.
Artists like Balogun, whose works fall in non-populist medium and form, are strengthened to go the extra mile in attracting appreciation as well as sustaining their established signature. For Balogun, whose work is mostly non-figural representation yet has heavy metal.
In its gallery statement, Omenka notes that the artist works in “calm realism and a more expressive abstract style.” The gallery groups Balogun as belonging “to an exceptional generation of artists distinguished for embracing unconventional media and techniques, as well as their interrogation of the larger society.”