By Bolanle Austen-Peters. Taken from the catalogue of the exhibition, Ona, Lagos. April 2012.
Ona is a Yoruba word meaning “Road” or “way”. Life they say is a journey. The paths that we walk can take us many places. In making our choices in life, we may choose to take a broad road that has been well travelled, or we may strike out on our own into territory that few have dared.
One very important thing stands out, the road (Ona).
Gbenga Orimoloye has definitely chosen his path (Ona) and he as a way (Ona) with palette knives that is set to take him to even greater heights. Though he works with different media and techniques including water colour, his love and mastery of palette knives is undeniable.
Though traditional Nigerian and indeed Yoruba influences were paramount at the beginning of his career, gradually, other influences resulting from his association with other cultures have brought about a body of work that is unquestionably world class.
His vibrant colours and texture have a way of gaining your attention and keeping you mesmerised whilst pondering the different activities going on on the streets.
Gbenga’s works are remarkable in quality and focus, giving special emphasis to the typical Nigerian way of life; our style, the struggle for survival resulting in street hawking and in the ever popular “gele” that defines a true Nigerian woman. His figures are bold and beautiful leaving a strong impression that stays with you.
From “IWA” his last exhibition in Lagos, meaning “Character” in Yoruba language to “ONA”, it is evident that Gbenga’s character and resilience has indeed forged a path (Ona) for him and many will walk down that path with him as his works lead the way.
Bolanle Austen-Peters (Mrs.)