Monday, 16 November 2009

Turning charcoal to gold

THE first thing notable about this lawyer who abandoned that career path for the arts, is his confidence. The youngman knows exactly why he is where he is and how far he wants to go. We sat him down for a probe:

Who is Laolu Senbanjo?
First of two children. I hail from Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, I’m a bachelor in my 20s, studied law at the University of IIorin. I attended the Nigerian Law School, Abuja. I have participated in various art exhibitions (British Council W.A.P.I., Art Pyramid Exhibitions at the Transcorp Hilton Abuja); I love to do music, I play the guitar, and I’m a singer and music producer. I have a few tracks on air in Abuja; one of which is ‘baby kos kos’, which topped the cool FM’s Abuja top 10 in the recent past. I currently work with NN24, a news TV station. I’m the kind of person who likes to have fun while I work... I use art to express my views, forms and imaginations

Afro-mysterics... hmm, what’s that about?
‘Afro’ means African, ‘mysterics’ means mystery. Afro-mysterics is the language of my art. It simply means the mystery of the African thought. My patterns speak of mysteries, which cannot be comprehended by the shallow minded. I love to tell stories with my art.

Why did you venture into arts?
First for the passion, secondly for the arts. It’s something I have always loved to do besides singing and law practice...

From law to arts…
I would rather say from arts to law because I have been drawing right from my secondary school days. I did Fine Arts in my WAEC (West African Examinations Council) exams and had a distinction.

What was it like starting up an arts gallery?
Having a gallery is very essential to every artist. It gives the artist a platform where his/her works can be seen and he can also get feedback. Unfortunately, in this part of the world financial constraints makes it difficult for young and aspiring artists to have galleries of their own.

Tell us about you project ‘Narratives of a busy life?...Are you into other things other than your art?
“Narratives of a busy mind”? Works of art that tell stories are called narratives. Simply put the narratives of Laolu Senbanjo’s mind. Most of my works are very busy and that is a reflection of what’s inside..

It’s a perennial question, but do you think the arts are well embraced in Nigeria ?
Not many Nigerians appreciate art for the value, sometimes people want to put a ‘price’ to art works like tomatoes or pepper in the market.. A few intellectuals do appreciate art. Some others will say funny things like African art is demonic. (laughter).

You use charcoal for your art, any reason behind this?
I just love the way it dissolves on white pastel surface. It allows for intricate details in shades of monochrome it also encourages a free expressive style. It can be deliberately blended to create moody and atmospheric effect, which is very appealing. Besides that, charcoal dates back to 30,000 years B.C. It was used to make some of the earliest cave paintings, which can still be viewed today. Also masters like Matisse and Piccasso have made notable works in charcoal.

Are there schools people can learn this art or is more of an inborn talent one has to have?
I think a bit of both. Some people just cannot see light and shadows or understand tone or color combinations it can be learned by those who don’t do it naturally but I think you must have some inner talent to be able to understand and learn!

Have you ever had any exhibition of your works? How was it like?
I had a private art viewing/exhibition last year December 9 at the elephant house Alausa, Ikeja, titled ‘the narratives of a busy mind’. You can view some of the art works that was on display at It was loads of fun! I met with lots of art lovers and collectors who encountered my work for the first time and loved it. It was an unforgettable experience for me. It was an avenue for a few people to see and experience my kind of art... and I’m looking forward to the next one..
I’m planning for my next exhibition. It will be coming up in the first quarter of 2010. I will keep you posted on the date and venue.

Any plans of taking your art outside Nigeria ?
Yes, a few friends in Europe have shown interest in my works and we are making arrangements to have an exhibition next year.
Advise to upcoming artists like you…
.An artist is not paid for his labour but for his vision. Just be yourself do your best and I’ll see u @ the top.


What do the deposed bank MDs and ex-governors who were caught stealing money have in common? They went to jail, we hailed the courts and the EFCC, and then they claimed they were seriously sick, went back to the courts and got bail – for some, too easily. So when the chief who was former board chairman for the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) was sentenced to a cocktail of jail terms, many Nigerians could be forgiven for thinking it would be same ol’, same ol. But we were all in for a shocker. The courts refused to be drawn into the small stuff – insisting that the hypertension and other “life threatening” ailments mentioned were not proved. And it was back to Kirikiri for the big men accused of playing fancy-free and foot loose with public funds kept in their care. People being made to pay for crimes no matter whose ox is gored? Ultra-cool.


So now they are kidnapping everyone in sight? This nonsense has to stop. No, really. This week, Nkem Owoh, the actor popularly called Osuofia, was abducted, with the kidnappers requesting as much as N15million. This was the same week that a Niger State permanent secretary as well as a ministerial aide. What is the one string tying all of these together? A group of men and women who have no respect for the human life. This is wrong, wrong – and the police had better start devising a better means of stopping this.

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