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Toyin Akinosho marvels at the installed life of the country’s most intriguing metal sculptor

Olu Amoda works out of a large installation piece. He lives in an artwork and dines on a sculpture.

His open-air workshop, two blocks down the valley -like street from his house, looks in part like a mechanic’s garage, a Fire Brigade hangar, a metal garbage dump and a drinking pub.

Here, two tall wrought iron and steel sculptures stand like Igunu masquerades. He is at work on a fat engine block, hung by a chain block, which will soon transform into the midsection of a horse. On the ground are metal scraps of all shapes, sizes, and stages of rust. A prominent occupant of this open space is a drinks bar. forged out of driftwood and broken glass, which was exhibited at Amoda’s last solo outing Sound, Stain and Steel, at the French Cultural Centre in 1999.

His forthcoming solo exhibition. Lacerations. to be held at the Nimbus Art Centre (March 14-28,2003) is in a sense a continuation of this tendency to manipulate steel into figurative medium and engage the viewer in a satirical conversation.

At the entrance into his house, a climbing ivy creeps round the front door, an evocative metal piece, his own version of the many gates he has constructed, now popular in homes of the well heeled in the city, which he collectively titles Doors of Paradise.

Even though the building is a bungalow, Olu Amoda has contrived a wooden staircase which, as you climb, aids you to engage a large flat steel panel on the wall which has been cut into in several places, culminating in a form that envinces a drawing of movements in a cityscape.

On the landing, the reception committee consists of a row of shoes of extremely different types and “flavour”, arranged from one extreme of the narrow corridor to the other. Flat metal sculptures, like the one around the stairwell, hang on the long corridor.

Amoda’s house and place of work look like carefully constructed, intricately arranged installation art with a theme: Living. The challenge has always been to transpose this careful construct into an exhibition hall. In Lagos, that has not been possible so far. Hence what viewers have seen have been  devalued aspects of Amoda’s work.

Can the Nimbus Art Centre overcome the challenge? We are here to find out.

Published 18 +years ago in Lagos The City Art Guide, January-March 2003 edition. Olu Amoda now divides his time between Atlanta, United States and Lagos, Nigeria. He has been on lockdown with his wife and daughter in Atlanta since February 2020. The photos in this story, taken by  author between 2019 and 2020, are 17 years younger than the story itself…

 

 

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