Gbenga Offo’s ‘Freedom’ paintings, sculpture open

The artworks of one of Nigeria’s leading contemporary artist, Gbenga Offo, will be opened to the public to commemorate the five years anniversary of The Wheatbaker, a luxury boutique hotel in Lagos.

‘Freedom,’ is an exhibition of 39 paintings and sculptures that reflects Offo’s personality.

From his charcoal and pencil sketches on paper to his signature large colourful paintings, the artist’s much admired cubist style is complemented by his abstract expressionist splash painting style with his deft and masterful use of colour.

“Offo’s works reflect the strength of our national character, its vitality, energetic resilience, its bold colours and its complex nature,” said Sandra Mbanefo-Obiago, the hotel’s art curator.

“Originally inspired by his iconic representation of human forms in Yoruba wooden sculptures, complete with bulging eyes, Offo’s art is soaked in the cubist tradition, from which he now soars to new heights of abstraction.”

After two decades of painting and drawing, Offo decided to take an artistic leap into metal works, where he explores wrought iron and stainless steel alongside bronze in teasing out new expressions in colour and medium.20161015_142415-1

“We don’t have enough time to experiment,” Offo, 59, said.

“People often say Gbenga Offo is a cubist or an abstract expressionist but I have always wanted to be free. I am a liberal and listen deeply and sometimes even consider things too deeply. But now I have come to accept my art and embrace it in totality.”

Graduating as the best student in Art and Graphics at Yaba College of Technology in 1984, Offo worked for a decade as an illustrator for leading advertising agencies, Lintas and Insight Communications, before becoming a full-time studio artist in 1996.

The highlight of ‘Freedom’ is the presentation of Offo’s first collection of metal sculptures in bronze, wrought iron, and stainless steel.

“Offo’s first time metal sculptures, iconic cubist paintings, abstract ‘splash paintings’ and detailed sketches show an artist responding to vital global issues such as migration, human rights, music, love and unity,” said Mrs. Mbanefo-Obiago.

“After hosting 16 professionally curated exhibitions, the Wheatbaker has become Nigeria’s leading art hospitality destination showcasing cutting-edge visual art and even video installations.”

Since 2011, the Wheatbaker has supported art exhibitions, film screenings, dance and poetry performances, fashion shows, music concert and yearly art auctions in an effort to make Lagos a hub for African arts.

The hotel has also hosted art exhibitions by some of leading Nigerian artists including Rom Isichei, Peju Alatise, Olu Amoda, Mike Omoighe, Duke Asidere, and Gerard Chukwuma.

“We are proud to have created a dynamic platform for international and local artists to experiment and present new creative expressions,” said Mosun Ogunbanjo, a director at the hotel.

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“We will continue to ensure that despite Nigeria’s current economic recession, the Wheatbaker provides quality services and strengthens creativity and innovation.”

The ‘Freedom’ exhibition is sponsored by Veuve Clicquot and the Wheatbaker and runs until January 15, 2017.

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