There is one thing I have learned and that is as an artist I may finish’ a piece of artwork, but the work of art itself lives as a transforming moment allowing multiple interpretations to consciousness and in this sense disavows any thought of completeness  -Ademola Akintola.

Ademola Akintola is now widely recognised as one of the current foremost African [British artists. Over the years, along with several highly prestigious and successful solo exhibitions, he has participated in a number of significant group shows, most notably Reclaiming the Black Family and Aids in the Black community

Ademola is an exemplary artist of pioneering foresight and vision. The dexterity of his approach is maximised through his ability to work across traditional fields of art exploration, separated only by technique and application. Some of his most breath taking exploratory works integrate painting with metal etching and relief printing.

His extraordinary imaginative facility thus combines the of transforming technique into form, providing thorough underfeeding of the inner workings of the very process of art as becoming’ or as Ademola himself puts it “it is within the terrain of the companionship between my consciousness and actions that the object bears the full weight of my thoughts and presence”.

Throughout his creative career, Ademola has engaged with the viewer through his work from the understanding that each person is endowed with a rich subjective universe on an exploratory mission of discovery, and it is his job to provision a pathway to the ever striving endeavor of the subjectls curiosity towards new forms of self-awareness.

For Ademola then, every life is a precious artwork in the process of its own becoming and continually challenged to changel. To see ourselves as self-transforming is to constantly call into question the status quo of ourselves. Ademolals dialectic realism of art as transformative practice challenges the tyranny not only of What-is but also of unaccountable power and places the subject’s quest for freedom as the very act of resistive self-becoming.

The Diary of an artist is Ademola’s latest exhibition, and perhaps his most ambitious and significant to date. The collection of works is inspired by events the artist has witnessed and lived through over the forty odd years he has resided in Britain, and from his frequent visits to his spiritual home in Nigeria. Whilst the body of works in the present show represents something of a conceptual departure from his previous exhibitions, the pieces nevertheless display his profound awareness that the most appropriate form to communicate his message is the form that is best able to dialogue with the attention and concerns of the viewer. In our 21 century globalised interconnected world wired as it is through a plethora of competing visual representations of reality, and where no one dominant fixed framed presentation of reality is able to claim the undivided in our 21 century globalised interconnected world wired as it is through a plethora of competing visual representations of reality, and where no one dominant fixed framed presentation of reality is able to claim the undivided attention of the viewer- Ademola’s Conceptual Realism invites and almost compels the sight of the viewer towards a deeper penetrative gaze below the multiplicity of surface explanations of reality available to him.

Ademolats Conceptual Realism draws on the radical intentions of 19th and 20th century European Realism exemplified in the paintings and writings of Gustave Courbet.

Ademola’s Conceptual Realism in this collection is most vividly expressed in his sculptural work 200 + 2Many. This work sits alongside Goya’s Third of May 1808 and Picasso’s Guernica (1937) in illustrating not only the simultaneous terror and fear of a nation undergoing turbulent revolts within its psyche in its quest for national identity but also echoes the darkest excesses in the brutalisation of its own humanity.

In 200+2Many, Ademola is unapologetic, even unsympathetic in unveiling the raw sub-consciousness of a nation feeding on its own malaise and irrationality. Its ghostly parade of asymmetric shapes floating in a void of darkness levitate like swollen lips drawing breath from the shock of disbelief and terror of stultifying inertia. Wole Soyinka argues that the most extreme form of this terror is represented by Boko Haramism, a terror not simply aimed at the violent enthronement of a theocratic sate but the complete obliteration of the very mind of the Nigerian nation.

The struggle for the mind of the Nigerian nation is further explored in the work entitled Passive Within. In it, Ademola depicts a nation engulfed in the tumult of change and at war with itself, fighting for the very essence of its soul. Here, the anises optimism is ebullient and is firmly placed in the stoicism and indefatigable spirit of the Nigerian people to survive the worst and most destructive excesses of itself.

The Snail lampoons the slovenly obscenity of the Nigerian ruling and governing classes bloated and obese from the fatty diet of corruption and crippled by the arthritis of inactivity,

HEROES pays homage on remembrance Sunday in Britain to the unremembered Africans and the warred-on casualties of innocence: children, the infirmed and the old. It reminds the viewer that history is not interpreted by the objective eye of the truth but by the selective disseminating eyes of its authors.

The Diary of an Artist is a courageous and timely portrayal of a civilisation experiencing a severe bout of the fits, seemingly powerless to restrain the most violent convulsions to catastrophe. To remain disengaged and in denial in this intimidating moment of fear argues Soyinka, is to “betray our offspring and to consolidate the ongoing crimes against our humanity

The witnessing eye of Ademola is resolutely committed not only in revealing some of the darkest afflictions in the social psyche of our time but also suggests that the most potent healing process resides within the spirit of the people in its efforts to create a new human subjectivity.

As Ademola insists, “The spirit of a people shall take care of its dead as it will take care of its children for it is the only power that cannot be destroyed, for freedom is a self-portrait of sacrifice; the scars cut deeper than the gaze of the mirror.”

Len Folkes

Sabbokai Gallery Curator