Monday, 24 August 2009

Tolu Aliki… Chip off the old block

IT may be convenient for most up-and-coming artists to imitate their superiors for relevance in the highly competitive visual art scene — an imitation that usually starts from idolising to outright copying —for Tolu Aliki the reverse is the case. His art is uncommon and it is done in a medium that is rarely used. More importantly, being self-made has separated him from the crowd; he neither has an idol or teachers to copy.
The juvenile look of his art is the identity that is fast winning the red tag leaves room to be desired. From the outlines that takes the viewer back to the basic in draughtsmanship, to toning and sometimes, subjects that probe into our social value, Aliki’s oil pastel rejuvenates a tastes. The oil pastel on paper is like swimming against the tide. Not at all, he says, “the most important thing for me as an artist is to get the best possible result for my work, and the surface on which this is done plays a major role. I believe it does not matter to those who genuinely love and appreciate art, whether a painting is done on a paper or on a canvas.” FROM his earlier works that were more like thumbnails from special effect studio of a sci-fi movie, Aliki has mature into greater sphere; coming out better and more expressive. Peacemaker, a sunset capture, which explains the place of doves in peace time, also shows that Aliki is out to display his skill of lighting and toning effect on pastels. The depiction; a slingshot and a dove, apparently explains that peace has a prize, which is a food for thought for nations such as Nigeria. Aliki has grouped his art into ‘Passion suite, landscape, lyrical suites and Faces’ to explain his thoughts on what he describes as universal message of tolerance, love and living together in peace. When the colour is toned down as seen in some of the ‘lyrical suites’ such as New Yellow, Mama Plays Violin and My Guitar Makes Me Happy, the line between juvenile and matured art begins to clear. What he calls “flexibility” must have been the attraction, but then every second counts because, “using oil pastel gives me the advantage of making my art with speed.” This inspiration, he recalls, led him to several ways of sorting out things whenever he is stuck, such as the rendition in “warm colour that I got drawn to over the years: my choice of colours, subjects and simplified forms are borne out of childhood reminiscence.” STILL in his early 30s, Aliki is confident that he can stand the test of time, as he boasts, “my works are in the best galleries in Nigeria, and they are highly sought after by various collectors. Recently, a number of art galleries in the US (New York and California) showed interest to represent me in the U.S.” FAST becoming popular as a pastel artist, Mydrim Gallery added him to the 8th edition of its yearly Pastel Exhibition titled New Page, which featured works of Ade Odunfa; four times entrant, Stanley Dudu; Ade Odinga; Joseph Ayelero; Ebony Ekwere; Jefferson Jonahan; Emmanuel Dudu; and Moses Oghagbon. Others recent outings include Art on the Mainland at the National Council for Arts and Culture, NCAC, National Theatre, Iganmu; Art Expo Nigeria 2008, National Museum, Onikan, Lagos; a juried yearly show of Society of Nigeria Artists, SNA; and October Rain, also at the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos.

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