Raqib Bashorun: Evolving in 360
From September 12 to 24, 2015, Omenka Gallery will present Evolving in 360, an exhibition of recent work by leading contemporary artist Raqib Bashorun. It is Bashorun’s second solo show at the Omenka Gallery and also marks his 60th Anniversary and a successful career spanning over 3 decades of active practice.
Bashorun’s skill is evident in his ability to blend effortlessly metal, wood and other found objects. Design remains central to the artist’s oeuvre, his leading dictated by his material, and at other times, his creative surge determining his choice of media.
“Design happens to be an area of art I enjoy investigating, and I guess this is why my uncompromising consideration centers on ‘design’, not ‘ function’. As a matter of preference, I often say that function follows my design, since design is my consideration. It is more like aiming at something beautiful, which may not necessarily be functional, although it appears to satisfy all functional features. I deliberately flavour my designs with forms, which visually repel functional encounters; otherwise, physical encounters sometimes surprise viewers as some of the designs are absolutely comfortable.” The theme of the exhibition Evolving in 360 alludes to the state of the Nigerian economy, becoming a metaphor for the human life cycle of copulation, birth, growth and death.
The 31 works on exhibit betray strong elements of design, surprise and the satirical. Amongst the most impressive is Quintessential Romance, a carefully woven soap opera of love that depicts the male and female genitalia in copulation, while in the background the toothed gears as flowers heighten the drama of romance. Forbidden Fruit warns thieving politicians and corrupt government officials to desist from plundering the nation’s coffers. Shadow and Substance is laced with satire. The work consists essentially of a disused metallic grater, vertically suspended over a system of coils, metaphors for comatose electrical transformers. The small openings in the grater are also symbolic for lit candles and generators, in turn remedies for the engulfing darkness across the Lagos cityscape, occasioned by epileptic power supply.
Pointedly, these remedies contrast sharply with the rising column, an indicator of the rapid industrialization brought about by the oil boom of the 70s. The Masked Masquerade sounds the death knell of a country that has consistently failed to live up to its promise despite its vast mineral resources, agricultural endowments and human capital. Often accompaniments at burials, masquerades represent ancestors, whose rhythmic dance escorts the dead to the spirit world.
The Nigerian narrative is arguably complete with the building of a system of values on a strong foundation with Accumulated Value and Bolted respectively. Conjoined in turn depicts, our collective resolve to remain a homogeneous unit despite our diversity of tongue and tribe, while Laced Kebab and Feeling Fresh, unusual because of its joyful yellow stain, both foretell a Utopian state—a Nigeria of fulfilled potential.
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February 15, 2018