‘Isolation good for artists, art’ - The Nation Nigeria News

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6/3/2020 9:06:00 AM

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Art has always been a part of Samuel Ajobiewe. His love for art makes it such that everything around him serves as an influence and inspiration for when ...

 Art has always been a part of Samuel Ajobiewe. His love for art makes it such that everything around him serves as an influence and inspiration for when he is creating works.He began with documenting aspects of daily life and his environment, often having his wife – (who is also an artist) and his children – serve as a muse for a lot of his portraitures.

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Right from the onset, Ajobiewe explored art as a means of documenting history. Over the years of his long practice, he mastered his craft, documenting the daily life of the everyday man, and then evolved into a social critic.The artworks he has produced lately addresses issues of insecurity, political turbulence, human rights and other distressing issues that have eaten into the fabric of Nigerian society.

After his last solo exhibition at Mydrim Gallery in 2009, Ajobiewe seemed to have dropped off the vibrant art scene in Nigeria. For 8 years, he relocated to Benin Republic not minding of being forgotten by enthusiasts and his collectors.When asked about this, the artist said: “I never really thought about it until I returned to Nigeria in 2012. I didn’t think about the effect of my absence would have on the minds of people conversant with my art. But, when I returned I took part in auctions and group exhibitions.”

In 2009, Ajiobewe left the noisy, busy city of Lagos, to Abbomeycalabi, a quiet town outside the more famous Cotonou in the Benin Republic. Moving there allowed him to heal from some health issues he was having, and a chance to continue developing himself as an artist.

“I moved out of Lagos after I developed some health issues. While in the Benin Republic I realised that my use of oil was part of the things affecting my health, so I moved to pastel and then drawing.I tried sculpture, before experimenting with acrylic. I tried all of this when I found that drawing with oil was part of the things affecting my health. So, using acrylic brought some relief because it helped me get back my essence as an artist and in the art market,” Ajobiewe said.

At a time when ‘social distancing’ and ‘isolation’ are the buzz words due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected many countries in the world, Ajiobewe feels self-isolation is part of the process for an artist to create his works.“It is important for me as an artist to be isolated. I avoid thiings that could distract me or derail my focus. I go out, but I minimize staying away from my studio, because I need time to do research, study my sketches before finally putting them on the canvas. So in a way, all these processes isolate artists most times,” he said.

After his return in 2017, Ajiobewe has been working on his first solo exhibition in 11 years and has found his way back into the loving arms of the art community in Nigeria.From simply documenting history, which led to being a social commentator by the works he has created, Ajobiewe plans to exert himself as a social critic through art.

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Ajobiewe’s love for art stems from his love for humanity, and as such, he is always looking forward to creating works that have a purpose and impacts society.“Before I paint, I decide what message I want to pass across. I want my messages to be something that everyone is familiar with,” he said.

Even though he is planning to hold an exhibition in June or July, Ajobiewe is now focusing on playing his part through art in reminding humanity of what happened during the pandemic and the lessons that can be learnt.“Although with the pandemic, artists have the challenge of buying materials to work with, and staying indoors all the time does not help the artist get ideas.

Read more: The Nation Nigeria »

For the artist, it ought to have offered time for much needed reflection.

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