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Amoda synchronises literature with visual arts

Template sculptural ensemble rendered in mixed media in space musing the Death and the King’s Horseman play by Wole Soyinka (winner of the 1986 Nobel…

Template sculptural ensemble rendered in mixed media in space musing the Death and the King’s Horseman play by Wole Soyinka (winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in literature). The play is based on an actual incident that took place in 1946 in the western region of Nigeria when the cosmological traditions of a colonising power collided with those of the indigenous culture. Scenes in the play are composed into sculptural forms bubbling in latent energy that emphasise subject‐area relationships between theatre and the visual arts.

As culture demands, with the death of King Eleshin, he had to be accompanied to the land of the ancestors by his horseman who had to kill himself the night before the funeral. For the district officer, this was absurd and considered ritual killing, which he must stop.

Described as an interpreter in art forms of society’s norms, foibles, expressions, events and responses to those events with these works, the artist gives concise expression of the spirit as against a description or representation of Soyinka’s piece.

He pays attention to balancing and harmonising component forms within larger whole forms of social narratives. The conflict of interests epitomising the play is transcribed into text on sculpture through such material use, conscious handling of scale and mass mutating with time, event and place. Gestured forms in each subject pose of the collection are designed to be as telling as to be objects for aesthetic pleasure and more importantly of educational resource for viewers.

Amoda describes the exhibition as a visual feast for the combination of unrelated objects. These unrelated objects usually attract charges from one another when combined. These charges are the latent energy the artist seeks to forge a harmonious relationship or forced in his composition of found object art. These objects yield so strangely that the audience looks at the marriage rather than the work itself.

He said, “I use found (repurposed) objects to create many of my works. Three primary concepts guide my work: latent energy, which is the memory or accumulative consciousness of the object. The Sieving Process – the selection of individual parts from the local cache of materials; and the pervasiveness of the material.

“Influenced by objects found in my late mother’s collection in 1993, I have designed sculptural forms to bubble in latent energy and to emphasise subject area relationships between theatre and the visual arts; used found object in exploring the cycle-of-objects to geographic location to social class to sculptural form to collective object, and the wooden palette-plinths symbolise the cyclic nature of the found-object.

“Gestured forms in each subject pose of the collection are designed to be as telling as to objects for aesthetic pleasure and more importantly of educational resource for viewers. I argue that found-objects are repurposed materials and thus are essential elements of organisation of my sculptural form.”

Viewing the pieces, it is evident that the body of work   “Template” draws from the play by replacing the actors with objects. “Here, I have modified the conflict of the play through my artistic use of materials, scale and form, which mutate with time, event and place,” he said.

However, there is an identifiable art style that is generally conceded to the constructivists. The fulfilment that flows from a total appreciation of these art pieces includes a grasp of the interdependence of the materials and the spirit-essence of the artist.  

Skoto says of the exhibition, “Replacing the actors with his found metal and wood sculptures, Olu Amoda has created an interpretation of the play that delivers an emotional impact that is perhaps true to Wole Soyinka’s intent.

“By imaginatively handling his material within a formalist sculptural framework and awareness that major traditional forms of African sculpture contained the basic tenets of universal sculpture tradition, Olu Amoda has created a compelling and significant sculptural ensemble that extends the range of sculpture-in-the-round as expressive poetry, and challenge the viewers for their interpretation of the play by expanding a cultural experience that fosters the notion of artwork as multivalent narratives crafted from multiplicity of approaches that express big ideas about humanity.”

This is the second solo exhibition of the artist at the Skoto Gallery. He has been in active studio practice for over 25 years and is a faculty member in the sculpture department at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos.


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