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KOLADE OSHINOWO: THE CELEBRATION OF A MASTER @ 70

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… in commemoration of his unique contribution to the development and growth of contemporary visual arts

The saying “it’s not how far but how well” can be seen in the life of a Master Artist, an accomplished septuagenarian, a Dad cum Grand Dad as called by his children and Grand Children, a prolific, unique painter and great contributor to the development of contemporary Visual Arts in person of Kolade Oshinowo. The Bible says in Provs 22:29 “Seest thou a man diligent in his business, he shall stand before Kings he shall not stand before mean men”. This verse of Bible is also evident in the life of Kolade Oshinowo who is seen as a very diligent personality in his profession and there is no doubt that he has stood before Kings and emperors.

Although an indigene of Ikorodu in Lagos State, he was born in Ibadan, Oyo State Capital on the 6th day of February, 1948. He is a Master painter and portraitist, a veritable storehouse of creative genius. He has participated in various art competitions in which he won prizes. He is a teacher indeed, who had lots of art students pass through his wealth of experience. He studied at Ahmadu Bello Univeristy Zaria, specializing in painting, he taught Art at Kings College and later Yaba College of Technology, where he was the Director, School of Art and Paintings and Deputy Rector of the College. Oshinowo has taken part in several one man and joint exhibitions globally. His works can be found in many public and private homes around the world.
Kolade Oshinowo while at Ibadan Grammer school had started painting to the admiration of many people before he went to Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaira in 1968, against his father’s wishes, but with the blessings of his mother. His art teacher at Ibadan Grammer school, Huponu Wusu popularly called “Pa Wusu” encouraged and helped to nurture him accordingly.
Be it as it may, the event which marked the celebration of a giant Master at 70 was held at the Yusuf Grillo Audiorim, Yaba College of Technology, Lagos on the 5th-6th of April, 2018 with the Theme: THE TRAJECTORY OF KOLADE OSHINOWO IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF CONTEMPORARY VISUAL ARTS PRACTICE” which had in attendance high educated personalities, well respected and proficient Professors and Lectures who held and still holds various positions in their reputable institutions.
Amongst the highly educated personalities and dignitaries that were present at the event are the Rector, Yaba College of Technology Lagos, Engr. Obafemi Omokungbe as the Chief Host of the event and the Chairman, Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria, Mr Adedotun Sulaimon, MFR as the Distinguished Chairman, Opening Ceremony. In attendance also are the Key note speakers: Former Deputy Vice-Chancellor, of Ladoke Akintola Univeresity, Ogbomoso- Prof. R.O.Rom Kalilu, Professor of Art and Art History, who gave a presentation on “Ingenious Strokes and Chromatic Preeminence: Framing the Trajectories of Kolade Oshinowo in the Visual Arts”, present also was: Chairperson, Visual and Performing Arts Department, South Carolina State University, United States of America, Tolulope O. Filani, Ph.D, Professor of Art and Art Education gave a presentation on “Who is Kolade Oshinowo: Through the Prism of a Protege?”
In a bid to make the event a grand and a successful one of which it was, the event planners thought it necessary to set up a committee that would organize and execute the event properly, however they came up with the “International Conference Organising Committee” members like Dr. Ademola Azeez as Chairman, Conference Organising committee; Dr. Kunle Aadeyemi as Chairman, Kolade Oshinowo @ 70 Planning Committee, Dr. Knule Filani, Mike Omoighe, Olive Enwonwu, Dr. Akin Onipede, Dr. Stella Awoh and few others to mention.
In the course of the event, Kolade Oshinowo was surprised with the presentation of a Portrait of himself together with other Artistic Giants. The painting was made for the Master at 70 as a birthday present by Wale Ajayi.
Furthermore, The Society of Nigeria Artists and National Gallery of Art, Nigeria in Collaboration with YABA COLLEGE OF TECHNOLOGY, LAGOS came up with a book titled “Book of Abstract” in honour of Kolade Oshinowo at 70. The Book features different presentation topics which appraised the extraordinary works of Kolade Oshinowo personalities that have attained the peak in Education. Some of the presentations includes:
“The Space of the Unfamiliar In the Work of Kolade Oshinowo” By Odun Orimolade, Department of Fine Art, School of Art, Design and Printing, Yaba College of Technology, here is a quote from his presentation“Like good old wine there is there is a certain identity that comes with the apprehension of an ‘Oshinowo’. There are the elements of subject, style, approach, ambiance, aura and the like that have become iconographic with the painting practice of the illustrious and prolific Kolade Oshinowo and in the experience of his audience……”
“Alternative Material Exploration as a Catalyst in the Synthesis of Kolade Oshinowo’s Mixed Media painting” By Kunle Adeyemi Ph.D, School of Art, Design and Printing, Yaba College of Technology, here is a quote from his presentation “This study looks at Kolade Oshinowo’s exploration of alternative materials such as sand, modeling paste, wood, glue, saw dust, waste fabrics or rags etc traditional and innovative elements as a catalyst to new forms and vocabularies in his mixed – media paintings…”
“Exploring the Oshinowo Legacy: A Positive Influence on Nigerian Art” by Ajayi Adewale Olusegun Ph.D and Adeoye Olusiji Isaac, Department of Fine and Applied Arts, here is a quote from their presentation “Moreover, in the Nigeria artscope, Kolade Oshinowo’s exploits cannot be overemphasized especially his influence on the up and coming young and budding artists…”
“Celebration: Adaptive Study of Kolade Oshinowo’s Painting Works to Resist Textile Designs” by Nwaopara, Jane Nwamaka, Department of Industrial Design, School of Art Yaba College of Technology, a quote from her presentation says “He is a seasoned teacher, a greatly committed and prolific visual artist. He has undoubtedly contributed immensely to the appreciation, development and growth of visual art in Yaba College of Technology and in Nigeria as a whole…”
“Kolade Oshinowo: Self-reinventiveness Through Material Inquisition and Exploraton” By Adeola M.Balogun, Fine Art Department, Yaba College of Technology, Yaba, a quote from his presentation says “The modernists who could be said to be particularly seeking for freedom and individuality, embraced and explored the ‘new age’ materials as a means to the end they were striving for. This practice, as aptly exemplified in the work of Kolade Oshinowo who keeps challenging and reinventing himself, entails the inclusion of miscellaneous materials his artistic production…”
Obviously, Oshinowo’s painting generally, particularly his mixed media works, have made him a dynamic Master of Figuration. Some examples of his paintings are “Aanu’s Place”(Acrylic Oil on Canvas), “Someone Burnt the Bush”, “Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe” 1981/1982, “Somewhere in Oyingbo”, “Sisi Ologe” Mixed Media on Canvas, “Vanity Mood”, “Preparation”, “The Philosopher”, “Iya Oni dundu”, “Internally Displaced People”, “Pray for Chibok Girls”(Oil on Canvas) and many other exceptional paintings which he has done.
Certainly, there is no doubt that as a result of Kolade Oshinowo’s diligence and hard work, he is today noted for his professional, adherence to professional standards in the practice of Art. His high professionalism is as a result of his relentless and constant studio practice and often experimenting which in turn result in quality that characterizes his art works.
In a recent press briefing, the quintessential rare gem decried the lack of creative consciousness among young contemporary artists as most of them cannot generate beautiful and fantastic ideas due to the influence of technology rather. He encourages the young artists to be more creative and follow the due process of art practice which is the only way to attain height and be successful in the art industry. Fielding questions on record keeping of transition in art practice through published books, Oshinowo’s main focus has been on studio practice and not printed materials. Though, a catalogue of art exhibitions and workshops are available for researchers and public consumption which he encourages rather than writing book about himself. He said he is not an author but a fulltime studio artist who writers admire to write about. He disclosed that a book on him will be unveiled loaded with his input in the industry.
He reveals his unrepeated nature in his paintings, “When people call me prolific, I just laugh because I know that I am not. All I know is that I am working, very restless and ever working. I am glad that some young artists have overtime got connected to my volume of works which also give insight of who I am. One thing I have ever maintained is non-repetition of exhibited works in a fresh exhibition. When I display about 50 works on any exhibition that shows I have over 100 works waiting. That is me. I can’t slow down except if age disagrees with me. Even the masters, when they were old, they were aided either with raised brush or assisted pallet to paint. They never got tired because they always have something to tell through their works. They want to say it fast before the sun sets. That’s the life of an artist.”
In conclusion, the event came to an end with a closing speech from the celebrant himself, he says “Though things have been overwhelming, on the second day people will just show up here and Leave, how will I leave when I’ve spent days and months clearing their paper and will not be interested in listening to what they have to say”? “I have learnt a lot being here, seeing my works even the ones I didn’t think about. I want to thank you most sincerely for your contributions and for leaving your place and I pray that you all will have journey mercy back to your various destinations. I pray no one will regret participating in this event. I pray that for those who are on the soaring paths, you will shine like stars; you will exceed your expectations and be celebrated. My prayer is that you all will be 70, 80, 90, 100 if God permits it, Thank you very much” He concluded.
In an exclusive interview with the Dean of the Faculty of Art, Design and Printing, Yaba College of Technology, Kunle Adeyemi Ph.D, in reference to the just concluded event, he described the celebrant as a rare gem who have left indelible imprint on the sand of soil. The Dean charged the younger generation who are faced with the challenges of studying Fine Art and Design as a course in the Higher institution to follow the footsteps of the Master, Kolade Oshinowo, who against his father’s wish went to study Fine Art and now he is being celebrated as one of the most proficient and prominent Artist in Nigeria.
He further advised them to follow their passion, stay focused, work hard, work smart and be determined to achieve their set goals. In synergizing with the newly inaugurated Rector, Engr. Obafemi Omokungbe and the Public Relation Officer, Mr. Joe Ndubueze Ejiofor, he says the management is working hand in hand with the Rector to make sure some of the infrastructure, tools and equipment needed in the Faculty of Art and Design Department are provided.
When asked about the challenges faced as the Dean, he however re-affirmed his point majorly on the issue of funding of which should be of paramount importance in the Institution. speaking further he said the Faculty is lacking some equipment and tools that are supposed to be used by the lecturers to train the students during lectures and that without some of the equipment being provided, it may not allow for smooth learning process of the students.