Plague art to start...
Chances are good, that if you've spent any amount of time around Manchester's alternative spaces (code for 'not shit'), you'll have noticed a watchful presence, the shadow of a man, hunched over a table, eyes fixed on yours (shining from the darkness), frantically drawing, scraping his pen or brush across paper in a fashion that might initially alarm. You might react in any number of ways, but ultimately, if you remain still, if you're a good sport, then the man will rise and hand you a drawing. What is revealed, is nearly always something you did not think could be seen, something you imagined was between you and your most private discernment...that aspect of yourself that you didn't really believe had substance, that you laughed off as a rogue---perhaps even paranoid---fancy.
You don't want to be without electricity and relying on electric shutters....
But no, there it is, on the paper. The man has seen it. He'll smile softly, before wandering elsewhere, leaving you clutching the strangely revealing portrait. If you pay attention, you'll see that he does exactly the same, all over again, but with a fresh subject. He might follow this course all night long. But then...what else would you expect from an artist, other than to create art? You've just met Akinyemi Oludele, sometimes called Akin for short. It's a meeting you will remember.
You know it's coming.
The first time I met Akin, he drew forth from me, a kind of dreadful, winsome hill giant...I was appalled, not because the likeness was inaccurate (sometimes he practices a mode of painting without caring to look at the paper; his pictures almost resemble Japanese calligraphy), but because of the smile he discovered living within me... and a warm Cancerian motherliness, which I had hoped fervently, did not exist. Truth be told, I liked to consider myself a cool wandering gunfighter figure, this picture depicted otherwise and I knew that there was a heaping of truth to it.
Slowly we became familiar and when we opened The Peer Hat, he became a regular figure, practising his art, depicting anyone and everything.
He is a man of few words, though he will talk about art and the power of art for as long as you have the time. He describes himself as an artist, when most would shrink, bashful at the prospect. Not Akin. What intrigues, is the fact that he is clearly not boasting. It's just a fact and when one witnesses how prodigious his output truly is, one that would be foolish to argue.
Look, just keep your coat on.
More time passes and it soon becomes apparent that Akinyemi Oludele is not limited to pub based likenesses. Indeed, his Onashile Art Gallery displays numerous bold excursions into ancestral wormholes of vivid colour, shocking angularity and stark post modernity. It stands apart. Almost outside, but winningly knowing, satirical, warning, impartial. Please take a look...
From Akin's recent exhibition at HOME.
But my thoughts always return to those pub sketches, for after a time, they became less fixated on the individual (although his sense of the inner self of others, was reaching fascinating heights) but instead, more fluidly expressive of context and moment. Snatches of conversations began to emerge, cartoons, many akin to visual fables and often with a moral. These sketches, I kept and I began to pin up and keep as many as I could. For to me there was no denying, that this ragged gallery, scribbled upon whatever came to hand, were an actual history, and an accurate one at that. Like some intense Akashic Record, one could look to a moment (each a trigger for vivid, thought forgotten memory) and discern some wisdom from it... could learn from the mistakes depicted and made.
'Nick Cleaning His Demons' Yes, that's me.
I had never devoted much thought towards art's capacity to act as mirror, as conscience, but Akin's work brought this capacity into revelation. No doubt he's sitting at home as I write this, creating, documenting. I feel certain that something will emerge from the chrysalis of our shared experience...a chrysalis that Akinyemi has formed from his astute observations. How far he sees, time will yet tell. But his work haunts my dreams and urges me towards a goal I cannot yet fully conceive.
Make sure to follow the blog by hitting the brand new 'follow' button, or stick your email in the box. Plague isolation is a curious thing, but whatever I feel at my lowest, my highest is pure inspiration. I know I'm far from alone. As scared as I am, I find myself more excited at weird possibilities, once so far fetched, now appearing sharply in focus...perhaps something wholly new. Maybe Akin's work holds part of the key? More very soon!