Raoul da Silva’s ‘Inner Worlds, Outer Space,’

The carpenter will hold his exhibition at Wheatbaker on June 8.

When Raoul starts a piece of work, he marks the canvas in a somewhat unprecedented way, following the canvas’ own lines and grooves.

“These marks are orientation points from which I start my quest of creating the right tension, balance, imbalance and rhythm,” says Raoul, 44.

On June 8, Raoul da Silva starts another quest as he opens his exhibition ‘Inner Worlds, Outer Space,’ his exciting collection of art works at the Wheatbaker, Ikoyi, Lagos.

The theme of his exhibition explores his various experiences in Nigeria and Switzerland as well as his Brazilian heritage. Raoul’s father is a Nigerian while his mother is Swiss.

“These stories are affected, dominated, connected and guided by my state of mind made up of memories, reflections, observation, smell, taste and many other influences,” Raoul says.

Shortly after Raoul’s birth, the family relocated to Lagos, setting up a clinic near the National Museum.

Art classes at the museum, visits to painter and sculptor, Bruce Onobrakpaeya’s studio, and an improvised canvas – an unpainted wall at the back of his home – helped hone young Raoul’s artistic expression.

“We lived on Ajasa Street. Basically, that’s where I grew up, and the National Museum became my playground,” he said.

However, as a teenager, Raoul’s parents sent him back to Switzerland where he learned, for four years, carpentry and cabinet making at Lucerne.

“I learnt carpentry, that’s my main profession – a profession that is well grounded and you can have a solid income,” he says.

After holding his first solo exhibition at the National Museum in 2005 to a “surprising reception,” Raoul said that this year’s event would also mark as a homecoming.

“Actually, I didn’t have an idea what to expect (in 2005) because it was my first time coming home, showing what I had done. It was very well taken by the audience, quite successful I must say, to my surprise. From then on, I decided this is where I want to be. Only it wasn’t easy for me to make that leap. Now I am at that stage that I can make that leap,” he said.

This year’s exhibition, sponsored by Deutsche Bank, First Hydrocarbon Nigeria Ltd, Global Energy Ltd, and the Wheatbaker will be open till September 15.

Sandra Obiago, who helped coin the exhibition theme, described Raoul’s work as “a clash, and at the same time, a crazy co-existence of forces, some turmoil and frantic activity which culminates in an incredibly complex world of beauty and depth.”

“What we see here is an artist with African and European roots, who has used multi-ethnic brush strokes to interpret life. A rich world of inner reflection, surging into an outer space of colour,” said Mrs. Obiago, exhibition curator and film maker.

“Raoul’s work is bold. His large oil paintings on canvas draw us into an intense battle of color and shape, spaces of tight and profuse strokes and patterns, interspersed with calm, languid spaces of yellow and shades of blue, white, and red,” Mrs. Obiago added.

Most of the works that would be on exhibition during ‘Inner Worlds, Outer Space’ would be untitled.

Raoul said he doesn’t title his works so that people can see them and “bring their own idea to it.”

“They are abstract and not realistic. I want to create a space where a kind of communication takes place between the viewer and my work. I believe that everyone has a different background and also a new viewpoint,” he said.

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