By Mike Omoighe. Taken from the catalogue of the exhibition, Vivid Impressions, 1992.
I have known Gbenga orimoloye since 1989 as a Student and now as a professional friend and colleague at the Fine Art department, School of Art, Design and Printing, Yaba College of Technology Lagos.
The memory of his first painting I saw first since 1989 still lingers on as vivid as yesterday.
It was already very obvious (even as a student then) his clear vision as a potential artist with a difference.
His use of simultaneous contrast in almost silhouette form, pitching highlight against darkness, gives one a solid punchful impression possible mainly in black and white pictures. Another very remarkable interesting point to note about Orimoloye was his ability to influence almost everybody in the painting studio as a student. (Students and Lecturers alike). Don’t be surprised because this cross flow of influences occur very often in the world of Academics, even though we tend to always view it as a one sided affair. Recent exhibitions of Yaba students and lecturers are clear examples.
This maiden timely solo exhibition can be viewed from two main angles. The monochromatic series and the colour experiments.
His paintings deal not only with tensions between opposites, abstract and realistic insertions; but also of a vivid focus on content within the domination of formalistic elements. His softly modulated semi-abstractions are pleasing and poetic, with their lyrical forms and delicate monochromes creating flowing fields of colour.
The monochromatic series (which dominate the show) exhibit his strong vision of light and shade, tonal values of variant hues systematically arranged to create a strong feel of emotional response.
For example his maximum use of light and shade is best enjoyed in “Early in the morning”. This greyish brown schematic piece in a monochromatic field of radiant vibrancy releases an energy possible in Red and orange scheme. In comparison, this oil painting carries certain energies, and it generates the type of emotional feel and strength achieved in “Send down the rain” by Majek Fashek. “Harbour I and II” exhibit the same character as that of the earlier work. A dynamic range of expansiveness, as well as compositional balance in space.
These oil and acrylic paintings remind one of Jimoh Akolo’s flat layed colour, palette knifing technique of the early 1960s and Donathos Akatakpo’s impasto of the late 1970s. This impasto technique could also be seen and enjoyed in “Man, wife, son and relative”, “The day before” I and II.
The second angle is mainly experiment in colour fused with his earlier technique. This is a bold step taken into the cosmic world of colours and symbolism e.g. “Landscape in red and blue”, “Emir and subjects”, “Stalls and houses”. These works have done so without any compromise and the result is daring and adventuresome.
In a general view we see a simultaneous move. These moves signal positive growth and fulfilment of a set mission.
Also in this show are his figure studies from life model. These sketchy studies in graphite are rare things to see in most shows these days.
This giant step taken into professionalism is a highly commendable one. But it should be said here that exhibitions are only necessary when you have statements to make. Recently exhibitions have turned a daily routine for artists, young and old alike. Maybe we artists rather need “Studio Open Hours” for sales and viewing than proliferation of exhibitions.
But in all sincerity, this is a genuine case of first time outing with a strong vision. We therefore need to watch critically and collect this young vibrant PROMISE of this generation based on our conviction.
He sure has a clear dream and vision to fulfil.
Lagos, July 1992