The Summer has welcomed back the opening of international art fairs, inspired art events like the sell out Van Gogh Experience in London’s Hyde Park and the re-opening of the UK’s leading art galleries for an overdose of soul enriching art delights.
In the midst of these major events ABTV seeks to champion the vibrant upcoming artists who are receiving praise and acclaim from art lovers, collectors and critics nation wide.
Cue our modern-day Renaissance Man, artist Adébayo Bolaji.
Following Adebayo’s success from his exhibition ‘’THE POWER & THE PAUSE’’ at Beers London in April 2021, ABTV would like to announce Bolaji’s upcoming exhibition ”IN PURSUIT OF FLOW” at UH Arts from October 5th 2021 until Jan 2022. In our interview with Adebayo, I intended to Un occult what the exhibition had meant to artist himself.
MC: A truly vibrant and exciting way to re-enter the art world, especially as an artist with their debut show aligned with the opening of Beers London’s brand new space in London. How does it feel to be exhibiting again and in this way?
AB: You know, the value of something is realised by scarcity. When we were told to stay indoors and experience art mainly through screens, the beauty and joy of being close to physical art becomes more special. As humans we have more than one sensory channel, and this proves that. It feels really special, the work becomes more special, the whole experience and value is different… in a positive sense. Also, Beers London’s new gallery space is just great, I feel honoured to be the first artist showing in there.
MC: Give us 5 words that describe the past 5 years of establishing your art career and would you let us in on a defining or revelatory moment in your career to date?
AB: Humility, courage, listening, consistency and vision.
I would say these five words stick out to me.
It seems somewhat cliche but it’s that thing about it not being about the destination, it’s about the journey. I kind of cringe saying it because you hear it all the time. But your character is really the foundation that upholds everything else. If I do not work as a human being then I’m not producing anything. The two go hand in hand. Ironically the work is forming me as I am making it, that’s weird isn’t it? – That would mean that the work is something that already exists spiritually speaking – if one is spiritually inclined.
It’s almost like, it’s just a tool to help me see something bigger about myself or the world, like the art is the tool but not the thing, it’s pointing me towards something else.
What do I mean? When I started out showing professionally, it’s easy to obsess about the work in a clinical sense; which makes sense because you have deadlines, goals and of course bills to pay, let’s be honest. That all said, life is not logical and if it were, you and I could figure everything out in a heart-beat. What we have instead are lessons and principles that we can learn from each other, that serve as a guide. My path is ultimately going to be different to yours, so I’m going to need courage, as all of the answers will not be available to me. Whilst having courage to take risks, I’m also having to be consistent because success or results are built over time, it’s not magic. Lastly having vision, the “why”, the reason why I’m doing anything, is the thing that has allowed me to be consistent in having courage, because it is the reason why I’m doing any of it in the first place.
The revelatory moment is linked to the title of my latest show… and that is the POWER OF PAUSING.
Pausing for me, is a kind of sacrifice, a kind of humbling myself to listen and be slower so something greater can come through.
I’m used to going full speed ahead, maybe it’s the Taurus in me, this can be good at times but on a personal note, I saw my work wasn’t progressing because I wasn’t giving more time to pausing.
When I say pausing I don’t mean being lifeless, I mean doing something different to what you’re used to… there’s so much to say on it. My work took a real leap once I gave more time to space, for other things to come through. Pause.
MC: ‘’The Power and the Pause’’: Your latest exhibition is described as an artistic commentary on the strengths and weaknesses that were revealed during a period of cessation caused by global pandemic. How was your personal art practice strengthened over this time?
AB: Well exactly, being forced to stop, one becomes face to face with one’s humanity and inadequacies. Not in a defeatist way but more of a relief. By relief I mean, it’s okay to not have all the answers, I can look outside myself, I can look upwards.
The exhibition is therefore a response to how the ‘Power’ and the ‘Pause’ can be interpreted, no one thing is strictly being imposed in the show, but it’s like an anthology, meaning a book that has short stories, poems, songs all under one theme.
MC: How does the story that you are telling through your painting and sculpture, personally play out for you? What roles do the characters play?
AB: It plays out however you want it to play out, the stories are constructed in such a way that wherever one starts in the exhibition, they can find a narrative. The characters and the pieces are parables, a parable is a story with a lesson. The great thing about lessons are they can evolve depending on where you are in your life. That’s why I mentioned anthology before, because if you felt like opening the book in the middle and starting with the poem before the short story at the front, that’s fine, you don’t miss out on anything.
For me, it’s a great testament to how things connect.
MC: What inspired your transition from the spoken art form of theatre towards the plastic arts? Will we see these artforms coincide in your future exhibitions?
AB: Not sure I would refer to the latter as plastic, as it really breathes for me. I feel they are already in harmony, I feel they all breathe in their own way because I naturally am seeing the crossover through what each discipline has given me.
As to how they might meet in a fuller practical sense, I feel this is slowly happening. The inclusion of sculpture and music specifically composed for this show is already an example, these expressions create a sensory experience in the gallery space that allows for how the viewer moves in the space to be different if it were just say, paintings on a wall.
I think a good question is also, why does this matter to me? From a personal point of view, more and more, I think I’m challenging us to be more open to experience, to allow oneself to have an opinion and not be afraid of it, despite what other people may think artistically.
I like people to engage.
Adébayo Bolaji, is a multi-disciplinary artist living and working in London, England. At the centre of his practice is the dialogue of change and the focus of the individual within a connecting society whether that be anthropological, religious, historical or popular culture. The use of the vibrant and metaphorical language, is a crucial element in his work, helping to narrate a different story within each painting allowing for the viewer to take an active role in the works. Bolaji has exhibited internationally in London and Zurich, with artist residencies in New York and Margate, including an Artist Residency with Yinka Shonibare MBE Guest Projects.
You can learn more about Adébayo Bolaji here.
Written by Matthew Chatfield