By Chief (Mrs) Marlies Allan. Introduction to the catalogue of the exhibition, Aso, Terra Kulture, Lagos. May 2014.
When I first came into contact with Gbenga Orimoloye over 30 years ago in Ikoyi, Lagos, neither of us knew, I would one day be a great admirer of his talent and works.
Gbenga Orimoloye needs no introduction in the Nigerian Art scene, and his stature globally is growing fast. He had his first solo exhibition in Lagos in 1992 at the Russian Cultural Centre. That show was an immediate sell out, with the majority of the works sold on the very first day.
Since then he has had several successful solo and group exhibitions, including a recent solo at the Saffron Walden gallery in the United Kingdom.
Gbenga Orimoloye has a tenacious and audacious spirit. That he has a mission is absolutely without question. His commitment to his goal and dedication to his craft comes across when you encounter the quality of his works. His masterpieces, exhibit his style, with vast amounts of paint, which he applies, almost wastefully at times, when you consider that often he begins a piece without even making a sketch, resulting in some works looking like others he has done before, especially in the themes which feature the elegantly dressed ladies in their gele and regal outfits. The topic and theme may be the same, but each work is AN ORIGINAL. This is however a very deliberate strategy. Something that cannot easily be put into words happens. It also essentially guarantees that even the artist himself cannot easily reproduce each work.
His style is unique and consistent and clearly comes across when you encounter his works, many of which I think are absolutely amazing, superb! At a time when it is becoming “fashionable” to create “abstract” work of questionable merit and quality, all in the name of being “current”, some artists remain true to their craft.
Gbenga Orimoloye is one of them. He has stubbornly held onto his personal artistic values, style, tradition and unique rendering, painting in thick oils. His work must look like an “Orimoloye” and they do, in spite of his wide repertoire of subject matter. His works are instantly recognizable. Your DNA is your DNA and your fingerprint is yours and should be yours alone. An artist can be inspired, but identity is sacred and must be manifest. The world deserves to see and celebrate the good in each individual as they really are…and not what others want or expect them to be.
For an Artist, the creative journey must be one characterized by truth, sincerity and integrity. It must be personal and genuine. This journey should sing a clear distinct note, emitting melodies that are rather seen with the eyes, felt with the mind and understood with the heart.
Still, it may happen that not every person will appreciate or understand this journey, nor hear these melodies. But for those who do, when they see art they actually hear it speak to them also.
Gbenga Orimoloye has tremendous talent, which one can see, hear and feel. It is a privilege to be able to do all three, and am delighted to have been asked to write this piece.
I wish Gbenga all the best and though it may seem incredible, considering the amazing talent we have already seen, I believe the best is yet to come.
Chief (Mrs) Marlies Allan
Hon Consul of Switzerland.