Saturday, May 5, 2012


Abiodun Olaku
Abidodun Olaku has matured from the young and hungry potential to a widely acclaimed master of his own style. His art works have the singular knack of haunting viewers, even after disengaging from them. His resignation from the public sector only created more time and independence to discover his creative being and essence. With over 60 group and joint art exhibitions to his credit since 1985, he has had 3 solo outings, (1993, 2000 and 2004). His work has been shown and collected individually and corporately in many countries in Europe and the United States of America. Many of the up-coming artists in the country have had the privilege of experiencing training or mentorship programmes with Olaku, especially at the Universal Studios of Art, in Lagos, where he is a founding member and trustee. In acknowledgement of this important contribution to the development of the art industry, he was awarded with the Defactori Art Pillar Award for the development of young artists at the French Cultural Centre, Lagos in 2004. Born in 29th December, 1958 in Lagos, Nigeria, Olaku is a member of the Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA) and he is a founding member, trustee and the current Vice-President of the Guild of Professional Fine Artists of Nigeria. He lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria with his family.
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Home Sweet Home

Olaku is about the most accomplished master of the illuminated landscape in Nigerian art. Two years before the country gained her independence from colonial rule in 1960, Olaku was born in Lagos during the festive season between Yuletide and New Year celebrations, hence the name Abiodun—a child born during festivals.  Lagos offered Olaku better opportunities, especially in terms of his preparation as an artist. In 1970, he was admitted to the Baptist Academy, a college equipped with facilities for art studies in a country when, at that time, most schools were characterized by the avoidance of that subject. Olaku paid attention to art education, and his passion was for painting. Art pupils in Baptists Academy practised still-life studies, imaginative compositions, and landscape painting, Olaku’s favorite genre. Nobody was totally surprised Olaku decided to study art at the prestigious Yaba College of Technology, where he honed his talent into an instrument of keen observation and vivid expression. But the question that has always faced him is a timeless puzzle for many landscape artists trapped in a schizophrenic topography. On the one hand is the Nigeria of the Victoria Island and Lekki Township, where the standard of living, the architecture, and display of affluence matches the best experiences from the richest parts of the world. On the other hand is the terrain of Maroko, Ajegunle, and Oworonsoki, crippled by poverty, chaos, and debris piled around slum dwellings. Complicating matters is his vivid and photographic recollection of his childhood in the filthy metropolis of Ibadan. Olaku accepts both parts of Nigeria, but not with the hopeless submission of the camera. His work is idealistic rather than merely realistic. He tames the use of light as his allegorical accomplice for musical and poetic compositions that balance natural lights and artificial illuminations. His spotlights, often reflected on murky water surfaces, speak of hope even in forlorn circumstances. The result is a rhythmic choreography of orchestrated luminosity that offers values of light to a sightless and stumbling Nigeria, a sovereign groping for vanishing values.

Blue Day

Sounds of Tranquility


“I guess I was born an artist, because looking back in time, drawing had always been one of the few things I could do intuitively and effortlessly. For this rare divine gift, I thank God from the bottom of my heart. I do count myself extremely lucky in the 'sense that I developed the capability to make visible some of the kaleidoscopic thoughts that race through a human mind. These invariably are thoughts engendered by man's peculiar experiences in nature ¬experiences triggered off by cultural, religious and social phenomena. Having sourced from the same depth of "creation," and sharing in its mystery, iridescence and evocative prowess, the artist has always been irresistibly and. insatiably drawn back to his roots in pursuit' of impulsive, creative fulfillment. Though my works are obviously animating enough for, the viewer to come to terms with, I believe I remain obliged to "arrest and expose" some of the fleeting thoughts that motivate me, to draw and paint what I do and how I do. . Phlegmatic and compelling as I found this assignment at the start, it has re-awakened me to the conscious importance and relevance of the other side of creative endeavor and documentation. In my effort to leave my own creative prints in the sands of time, I have drawn and painted innocently and unpretentiously. Therefore, I make no excuses when sometimes, I am accused of "slavishly copying nature."
"In my sincerely considered opinion, anyone not influenced by nature must be living in limbo. Unfortunately, some of "us" are too proud to admit (even-remotely) that they copy nature one way or the other. In avoidance of classification of my style of painting (I leave that to the experts) I have concentrated on observing, to the best of my ability, the principles that have unquestionably ensured the endurance of true, successful art through time. These principles include the basic elements of design-drawing, form, colour, tone, arrangement, texture and the philosophy behind each creation. Without these fore-stated factors, art movements would probably be non-existent today anyway. At this point, it is with founded trepidation that I have to acknowledge the menace of pseudo-analysts and ungrounded historians who are having a field day within the narrow confines of art practice, dealership and coverage, and they do a lot of disservice to the practice and growth of visual art in this society, by trying to impose their various strait-jacketed ideas on those who naturally and nobly divulge quite commendable ideas from their innermost creative recesses, forgetting that variety is the spice of life. I would like to borrow a Yoruba adage from a senior colleague and inspiration, Mr. Bisi Fakeye - a universally acclaimed Sculptor - "Gbegi gbegi ti gbegi tan, O ku gbenu gbenu." Meaning: The carver has done his best, the rest is up to the commentator."
(My Experiences by Abiodun Olaku at

Noite, vista parcial

Sons da paz / Sounds of Peace

À sombra da tranquilidade

All images from

"I have on a number of occasions expressed uncertainty about how beneficial either to the exhibiting artist or the viewing public the "flood" of exhibitions we now "enjoy" is. Whatever view one may hold about it, there is no denying the fact that the "flood" into which so many ill-prepared young artists has - in bravado - been diving has been encouraging some good, though, diffident artists to put on the swimming trunks. Also, while our few serious art collectors are getting rather weary of the seemingly endless rain of indifferent debut exhibitions, a new and growing class of patrons is being formed and private corporate institutions are more than ever before, now in the forefront of art sponsorship. One artist who by today’s standards would have had no less than 10 one-man shows but who is coming out, solo, for the first time is Abiodun Olaku, I knew him as a student; he was very talented, innovative, and industrious. He graduated as a painter in 1981 and has since been actively engaged in the arts. Viewers will see in his work, a mastery of the media, confident, expressive draughts - manship and sincere originality. Olaku's sincerity is most remarkable; I can see a subtle - very unobtrusive-natural development in his work over the 12 years. Unlike what seems to be the order of the day where young artists jump from one style to the other evidently to catch quick attention, the evolution of his style is steady and sincere. I am proud of him as an ex-student of mine. Source: My Experiences Exhibition brochure (1993).
(A Teacher's view 1 by Prof. Yusuf Grillo at at

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