The Big Showcase today features Samuel Ajobiewe, a veteran artist who has fought social and political injustices through his paintbrushes, canvases, and other art mediums he sees fit for over two decades. However, Samuel Ajobiewe isn’t just a social critic who creatively fights corruption and other social menaces but also a lover of people and culture. As such, he is also invested in documenting the daily realities of people and the cultures and traditions they hold dear.
In this second showcase, we explore the mind, art forms, and projects of Samuel Ajobiewe, a scholar, classic artist, and social critic.
Heads-up: before you proceed, get a notepad and pen ready because you might learn one or two things that will make you smarter instantly.
What Has Samuel Ajobiewe Been Up To?
In an earlier showcase of Samuel Ajobiewe, he shared that he once took an extended break from art to care for his health and returned to the scene in 2012. This begs the question of whether Samuel Ajobiewe would ever consider taking up other professional interests if he decides to take another break or retire from the art world. He responds like the artist that he is:
“Art is my all in all, and I’ve always given it my total being and dedication. This will remain the case for a long time until any other professional interest comes up. But as long as I live, art will still take preeminence.”
When we featured Samuel Ajobiewe two years ago, he was preparing a body of work for exhibition – his first one in eleven years. And at the time of this interview, he affirmed that the body of work (now the first in thirteen years) would be on exhibition during the first quarter of 2023.
“I haven’t done the exhibition, but the body of work is ready. Hopefully, the body of work will be showcased by March this year.”
True to his words, Samuel Ajobiewe held a solo exhibition of his body of work titled ‘The Indignant Eye‘ between April 1st and April 8th. The exhibition, presented by Red Heritage and held at the National Museum, Onikan, showcased the common themes unique to Samuel Ajobiewe’s artistry.
In addition, he was generous enough to expand on the themes he covered in the artworks exhibited.
“As a social commentator and critic, I choose to document our cultural heritage, events, and daily activities of different people. This body of work is categorised into two groups – documentation of cultural heritage and critically looking at political and other societal events.”
He further states some of the items from the recent exhibition that fall under the two categories.
“Some of the paintings in this body of work that critically address social and political events in the society include Irony of an Incorruptible Judge, State of the Nation, Government Ineffectual Scarecrow, Defiance of the Northern Girls Against Boko Haram, and The Nightmare. In addition, works like Anticipation, The Little Dancers, and The Emir’s Entourage cover daily cultural issues and themes.”
Samuel Ajobiewe and His Simplistic Yet Distinct Art Techniques
Regarding whether he adopts a minimalist approach to his art, Samuel Ajobiewe educates us on his techniques and what makes his painting style stand out.
“While I wouldn’t call my art technique minimalist, I use limited palette and monochromatic painting effects, which make the colours in my paintings look muted and minimalist. However, minimalist art largely adopts geometric shapes, abstractions and posterisation. So instead, I’m more of an impressionist who uses limited and monochromatic effects.”
You may need to look up some of those words, but, in a nutshell, Samuel Ajobiewe balances bold colours with light ones in a way that isn’t flashy.
Still on the topic of his techniques, he also shares how changing times and trends have impacted his artistic voice as opposed to when he started his journey decades ago.
“It’s true that for more than two decades, I’ve been a strong voice in the Nigerian art market. And although I started my career with the desire to document cultural and daily life events of people, my art slowly evolved into practically critiquing social and political events in society. And since this evolvement, I’ve kept my motifs the same because there are increasingly more events and happenings that continuously hold society’s attention. As such, my paintings will continue to head in the direction of social criticism that I am commonly associated with.”
Samuel Ajobiewe on the Beauty of Trusting the Basics
Samuel Ajobiewe does not only paint but also sculpts and draws. He shares the importance of these three art forms to his overall artistic career.
“The desire to be a complete artist and not just a painter informed my use of these three art forms in expressing my ideas. Although my sculptural works are less well-known than my paintings and drawings, my career hinges on all three art forms. I’ve recently returned to sculpting, which I’ve left for a while. Hopefully, this year I’ll showcase sculptures and drawings I’ve been working on to document all my artistic leanings.”
When you look at Samuel Ajobiewe’s works, you can feel a deep connection to the early artworks you grew up seeing, especially oil paintings. You might want to mistake them for ordinary, but that would be a mistake because there’s so much power in the most ordinary things. In a sea of numerous emerging talents and fresh art techniques/mediums, Samuel Ajobiewe offers artists practical tips to become exceptional, starting with the power of basic knowledge.
“Excellent delivery in painting is the proper usage of essential elements of painting. For emerging artists, there’s a need for the basic rules of art and to understand that the basics still stand no matter the emergence of new technologies. Drawing your basic sketching, painting and sculpting inspiration from life and realistic ideas would be best. Furthermore, the thorough knowledge and basics of drawing will power other artistic abilities you have.”
“Regardless of the technology available today, there will always be the need for human input, intellect and ability in painting and sculpting. Having this in view will help upcoming and established artists to draw inspiration from the basics, from life, humane elements and available technologies to improve their artistic outputs.”
You might not be an artist, but the law of basics applies to every other profession. So if you don’t take anything else, take this advice from Samuel Ajobiewe and run with it, especially if you’re a newbie in your industry.
What other nuggets did you get from this showcase? Please tell us in the comment section.