SIX years after his last solo exhibition in Nigeria, US-based artist and art historian, Professor Dele Jegede is set for another show in the country.
Titled ‘Transitions’, the exhibition of paintings and drawings opens today at the upscale Terra Kulture Art Gallery, Victoria Island, Lagos and will be on till July 23.
Speaking ahead of the show’s opening last Friday, the artist, art historian, painter, art critic, curator and art administrator who began his career at the Daily Times of Nigeria as art editor and cartoonist, disclosed that the theme, ‘Transitions’ has two sides.
He said the first has to do with coping with the trauma of a personal loss; the death of his son, Ayo in 2011 and then happenings in the body polity; how the nation has fared under successive civilian administrations.
Given that he started painting the works in 2014, the Boko Haram insurgency, Sambisa Forest, the hideout of the insurgents, abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls and the displacement that comes from conflicts amongst others are represented vividly on canvas.
There is, for instance, the IDPs series where the artist explores different kinds of displacement. Aside those actually displaced by the conflict (IDP 3 and IDP 1), the artist, in his inimitable manner of punning, also gives us ‘Internally Displaced Politician’ and ‘Internally Displaced Police’ (Rofo-Rofo Fight). The Internally Displaced Politician is the typical Nigerian politician not interested in diligently and faithfully serving the people but one who strives to feather his own nest by all means necessary.
‘Internally Displaced Police’, on the other hand, shows two policemen from different branches locked in a fight-to-finish. Interestingly, the law enforcers have become the law breakers, signposting to the rest of society that there is fire on the mountain.
There is also the Boko Haram series where the artist paints various heart searing scenes of the dehumanization people in the North East have had to bear. Among such are ‘Boko Haram I’ and ‘Boko Haram 3’.
But the works are not all gloom and doom. There are also the light ones including ‘Generation What: Selfie’ showing two elderly men wrestling with a selfie stick. This is a humorous take on technology and people’s fascination with it irrespective of age.
The Celestial Aesthetics Series is a beautiful interplay of blue and deep orange that soothes and further shows that jegede is not all gore.
Explaining his work, the Professor Emeritus of Miami University, oxford, Ohio states: “As a cartoonist, I drench acerbic issues in palatable coats of humor for public consumption, often at the expense of the powerful…As a painter, I employ variety of media to inveigh against economic constructs and political shenanigans that wreak unimaginable havoc on unsuspecting publics while perpetuating the subaltern condition of the underclass…Above all, I work primarily to express my individuality. It is conceivable that my work may touch a nerve or two, provoke a reaction or stimulate aesthetic cognizance. That will be a plus.”