Modernist painter Peter Lanyon once commented that “It is impossible for me to make a painting which has no reference to the powerful environment in which I live”. Art is, more often than not, always reflective of the society it emerges from and its relevant context and while art can be made for art’s sake, artists recognize the impression culturally relevant art leaves on viewers and draw on their surroundings and heritage to create art.
From Ogun state and being an alumna of the Obafemi Awolowo University in Ife, Lasode Opemipo’s indigenous statement (or art) in a contemporary context is an admirable juxtaposition of her influences. Her environmental surroundings inspire her works which vary from interior decoration to paintings done in pencil, crayon, ink, and lipstick. Fusing earthly colours and bright colours on her canvas, she creates a universe where both the old and the new can co-exist as more than mere visual paradoxes. The abstract nature of her works allow for alternate interpretations of the mundane. Lasode captures the essence of images and atmosphere using bright, bold colours and abstracted figures.
On “Identity”, Lasode opines that “The colour patches indicate that every man is made up of different men… No man stands alone, we affect each other by love, friendship and other relationships”. Observing “Identity”, I felt the different faces morph into important faces that have shaped my life and decisions; teachers, friends, icons and so on.
“Black And White” depicts the western society’s influence on African culture through the black and white motif of the piece. She captures the passionate African aesthetic with her brilliant strokes to describe the harmony between two somewhat contrasting cultures.
In “My Village”, “My Village Compound” and “Never Alone”, Lasode views the pastoral in colour. Most representations of village life in Modern African Art never seem to take cognizance of the amount of colour in these villages; in form of gossip, dance, and stories about fantastic creatures. The village is full of colour and Lasode paints it as such, challenging historic notions of Africa being merely a dark continent.
Lasode claims “Afro was an attempt to godify the African girl-child”. In her poignant poem, “Won’t you celebrate with me”, Lucille Clifton urges “…come celebrate/ with me that everyday/ something has tried to kill me/ and has failed. In “Afro”, Lasode makes a subtle attempt at celebrating the black and female body.
The artist also lunges at originality with her “Quilled African Print” and “Ankara X Gele”; two experiments with Ankara, a popular African textile, incorporating traditional African prints with vibrant patterns and colours.
Lasode Opemipo shows an understanding of society’s influences on who we are, who we become and the actions we take. She reflects life and her surrounding environment through her art and shows considerable promise.
Lasode Opemipo is a graduate of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ilé-Ifè. She paints, draws and creates interior decoration. She mixes the use of African print and pattern, acrylic paint, lipstick, pencils, crayons, pen and ink. She loves the African mind, spirals, colours but especially the patterns and prints. Opemipo hails from Ogun state, Nigeria.