‘If Walls Could Speak,’ a debut exhibition by one of Nigeria’s promising emerging artists, Patrick Akpojotor, will be open to the public from September 16 to November 8.
The solo exhibition, presented by The Wheatbaker and curated by SMO Contemporary Art includes 38 oil paintings, pencil sketches, seminal works in wood, and an installation of copper sculptures, which represent the artist’s exploration of the subconscious connections between identity and the built environment.
“Akpojotor’s works stimulate us to a refreshing experience of the artist’s intuition, childhood, the search of identity, adventure and romance with space,” said Jerry Buhari, art critic and Professor of Fine Arts at Ahmadu Bello University.
Bruce Onobrakpeya, a pioneer of Nigeria’s contemporary art scene, said he feels fulfilled having watched and mentored Akpojotor over a span of 15 years.
“He is very talented, intelligent, diligent and passionate, and is able to draw inspiration from things around him and from faraway places.”
In his works, Akpojotor explores how architecture and the environment influence individual and collective identities. Growing up in Lagos, the artist said he was fascinated by the names of streets and buildings, and started playing with the personification of abandoned buildings which harbour silent memories of forgotten people and historic events.
After graduating from the Auchi Polytechnic in Fine Art in 2008, followed by a degree in graphic design from Lagos Polytechnic in 2013, Akpojotor, 37, worked for Bruce Onobrakpeya as a studio assistant.
In 2016, he said was deeply disturbed by the violent ejection of residents of the waterfront slum community of Otodo Gbame in Lekki, where thousands of people were displaced. He said he channelled his anger and frustration into his paintings and wood sculptures, creating buildings with human features and emotions.
The signature anthropomorphic structures with their cubist geometry, perspective, balance, and form, were his creative response to the realities of the population pressure on the megacity. His imagined structures and abstract compositions interrogate a sense of rootedness and belonging. In late 2016, Akpojotor won the first ArtXLagos Prize for emerging artists with that body of work.
“These amazing works not only give us an emotional feel of the rich and colourful history of Lagos built environment; they also pay homage and immortalize important people, like Dr. Stella Adadevoh, whose timely medical intervention saved Lagos from the spread of the dreaded Ebola disease in 2014,” said Sandra Mbanefo Obiago, the curator of the exhibition.
Mosun Ogunbanjo, Director of The Wheatbaker, said Akpojotor’s work captures the heart of traditional, colonial, and contemporary architecture scattered across the Lagos cityscape.
“We are proud to host ‘If Walls Could Speak’ and use our hotel to promote the best of Nigeria’s creative talent to a growing local and international community of art enthusiasts.”
‘If Walls Could Speak’ is supported by Louis Guntrum wines.