Olu Amoda: Fringe
by Ladun Ogidan
Fringe is sculptor and mixed media artist, Olu Amoda’s recent solo exhibition, investigating questions of privacy and public space in the Nigerian urban environment. The exhibition opened on March 7 at Art Twenty One and features remarkable works in sculpture, drawing and installations, examining the relationship between surveillance, religion, and the female form.
Amoda is renowned for his technique of welding several found objects including iron to create sculptures of powerful contrasts. These objects when assembled are at once gritty and seductive, brooding and redemptive, personal and monumental. The power of his work derives from its combination of abstract shapes with pointed references to the human form while the use of other materials enhance the crisp contours and imparts a solidity typical of conventional sculpture. They are imbued with enigmatic beauty that reflects a subtle understanding of context, respect for tradition while embracing modernism and attaining a synthesis between matter and space.
Here, Amoda questions the influence of technology and the effects of its stimulated exchanges with regard to how we see others and perceive our own identities. Citing the digital revolution and the accompanying hyper-consciousness of self-representation, the artist emphasizes the ever-constant presence of the camera in our daily lives, suggestive of a cultural obsession with our “public” selves.
A crowd favourite are Amoda’s new series that reference religion and the sacredness of the private, as well as depictions of women that highlight the conflicting forces of sexuality. These nude and seminude women, shown in varying states of undress, represent commercial sex workers in Nigeria. Rather than preaching morality or situating the pornographic as taboo, Amoda celebrates female sensuality. Eschewing the line between vulgarity and intimacy, the artist points out that the public and the private are two sides of the same coin and intimately inform one another.
Like his contemporaries living and working on the continent, Amoda provides an alternative, optimistic stance in the repositioning and rewriting of art historical discourse with deep insightful commentaries and observations on the social, economic and political realities of modern Africa.
Olu Amoda graduated in Sculpture from Auchi Polytechnic and received a Masters of Fine Arts from Georgia Southern University. He has participated in exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert Museum (UK), the Museum of Art and Design (New York), Skoto Gallery (New York), Georgia Southern University (USA), Didi Museum (Nigeria), and WIPO Headquarters (Switzerland), among others. He has completed residencies at Villa Arson (Nice, France), The Bag Factory (Johannesburg, South Africa), Appalachian State University (Boone, North Carolina), and the New York Design Museum. Olu Amoda is the founder of Riverside Art and Design Studios in Yaba, Lagos. He has taught Sculpture and Drawing at the School of Art, Design and Printing at Yaba College of Technology in Lagos since 1987. In 2014, Amoda received the top prize at the DAK’ART Biennale in Dakar, Senegal.
Images: Mark C
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