Akano celebrates traditions with 9Gems

LEADING art-house, Signature Beyond Gallery, affirms its support for innovative artists creating fresh concepts or using general ideas to generate new visual narratives by hosting Segun Akano’s solo exhibition, ‘9Gems’.

The show featuring historical and traditional relief sculptures in the contemporary form opened at the Gallery on Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, on Friday and will run till October 8.

Celebrating tradition using non-conventional materials, Akano focuses his art on relief sculptures and models with light and optical illusion. Using a small cog capable of maintaining monumental and durable structures, he shapes people in bas-relief using screws, constructing visual nuances to reveal light and shadow.

Akano’s works revolve around the female form, womanhood, African culture and legendary stories. And his strength is not only the mastery he displays in screwing the materials but also the attention to shades and forms. These shades allow for the shaping of the folds of the fabrics, which he somehow manages to sculpt just like the intricacies of human anatomy.

His unique talent and style are manifest in the works of ‘9Gems’, which the gallery notes brings new contemporaneity into the Nigerian art space. “Segun Akano stands counted among talented artists that provide alternative visual narratives that complement the story of contemporary Nigerian art”, Director of Signature Beyond, Rahman Akar, stated.

“The way he renders his subject matter with his mode of execution and unique configuration sets his style apart,” he added.

Notably, ‘9Gems’ also documents old and timeless ethics and ways of life from our roots, stories and identity.”Our history inspired the body of work, the stories of our fathers and forefathers, their experiences, their values, ethics and tradition,” Akano explained.

‘Sisi Eko’, ‘Ojuloge’, ‘Liberated’ and ‘Hummingbirds’ are among the pieces showing in the exhibition. Akano’s ‘Sisi Eko’ is a lady who seems to know everyone and whom everyone knows at least of her.

He explains: “The Sisi Eko uses her endless connections and interminably deep pockets to score an invite to every event worth mentioning and is heavily armed with an extensive wardrobe full of designer pieces to look the part. The SisiEko is usually an ‘Ajebutter’ but might be an ‘Ajepako’ with an Alhaji behind her. Some lucky Sisi Eko has no job to speak of, but most hold down a well-paying day job to bankroll their glamorous lives.”

‘Ojuloge’, Akano, who gained a degree in Analytical Chemistry from the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology in 2008 before he started creating art, said, “is often given as pet name to beautiful wives. As a name deep in Yoruba value, it presupposes the existence of other ‘elements or qualities’ of beauty like wealth and children which the rivals of the name-giver often pride in.”

“The giver believes that she can sustain and conquer her husband through her charm. Ojuloge means the beauty of a woman is in her face and eyes. More than this, the inner sight (eye of the heart, inner eye) Yoruba adage that says “ojuniobinrin fi nmuohunloja” (a woman picks things and makes choices at the marketplace with her inner eyes/sight). When your inner sight is well nurtured and trained, it brings great success and beauty to her family and the nation as a whole.”

Akano added that ‘Liberated’, a relief that captures an enthused figure in elation, “manifests the “clean slate” energy and purified vibrational state that comes through the power of forgiveness, whether you need to forgive others, or you are the one needing to be forgiven.

In a world filled with hate, the artist agonises over the lack of love. “Hate is a strong emotion. This mental venom can pollute your spirit, poison your soul and seep into all of the relationships surrounding you. Anyone who has found themselves wrapped up in the arms of hate knows how damaging and mind-consuming it can become. While hate can be directed at almost anything – animals, foods, jobs, movies – the most destructive is hatred toward other people.

Forgiveness is one of the most misunderstood spiritual concepts. When we think about forgiveness, what comes to mind for many of us is ‘excusing’ toxic and harmful behaviour or ‘letting others off the hook’ for mistreating us so that they, on many levels, appear to have gotten away with it. What forgiveness truly means is ‘to set free’ or ‘to liberate’. And, often unbeknownst to us, the very one being set free is us.”

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