Oluwanbe Amodu’s Work Fuels an African Arts Movement
By Ramla Bile
Years ago, Oreoluwa Adedeji (one of the most brilliant art curators I've ever met) exposed me to an emerging African arts movement. Ore had her pulse on the global African arts scene, bringing together a diverse array of artists from the black diaspora in Latin America,the United States., and throughout the African continent. She introduced me to the art of Oluwanbe Amodu through an installation at the African Development Center (ADC) in Minneapolis called "Afro Expression." In the U.S., he’s also exhibits in New York, Florida, and other states. Amodu utilizes a newish art form called "Araism," which emerged from Nigeria in 1989 and was developed by Mufu Onifade. In proper African practice, Onifade shared his skills with art-eager students – sparking an Araism movement years later. Araism involves a mosaic of textured strokes to form whole images. As a style, it's similar to pointillism, a neo-impressionalist technique that uses small dots to create images.
Amodu's work is now part of an artists' collective, which formed in 2006. You can still see it at ADC in Minneapolis. He uses Araism to weave together the black diaspora with his images of President Obama, African mosques, and everyday people.
In his own words:
"At first, I had a sinking feeling that every artist wants to paint like the famous Western artists despite my strong desire remember and gather strength from my roots. Then, I was reminded of the great Afrobeat legend, the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti whose piece Mr. Follow Follow inspires us to pave our own path. I strongly believed that we Africans have our own original creations. We cannot shy away from that truth. African artists have influenced some of the world greatest artists like Pablo Picasso. Art is not a ‘one-way traffic.’ Don't get me wrong, not that I do not like the Western Art, but my take is that there are other ways to create, too. I’ve had the immense privilege doing things my way and carving a niche for myself among my contemporaries."
- Oluwanbe Amodu
Follow his work on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Oluartz/