Scrap Metal Resurrects in Dotun Popoola’s Irin Ajo

POSTED IN Art, Art history, Assemblage, Culture, Sculpture
By Adefoyeke Ajao
Dotun Popoola describes himself as an artist who is “always on the move searching for new ideas, blending training in different forms of art from different schools and studios; different techniques and cultures, in order to create a unique form of art”. “Irin Ajo”, his ongoing exhibition of hybrid sculptures, which opened at the Signature Gallery on February 24th aptly mirrors this philosophy.

 

Dotun Popoola

 

“Irin Ajo”, loosely translated – depending on the tonal affectations – as ‘welded metal’ and ‘journey’ in Yoruba, doubly connotes Popoola’s use of junk metal as a medium and his journey through the various institutions where he honed his artistic skills. Popoola’s transition to metalwork is quite remarkable considering that he is already an accomplished painter and sculptor with more traditional leanings. However, he ascribes his “affinity and passion for welded sculptures” to a residency with sculptor John Lopez, whose influence nudged him “to
explore [his] art in the way that [he] find[s] more challenging yet satisfying.”

 

Boer Bell

 

Akuko Gagara

 

This exhibition features sculptures of varying proportions: sculptures such as Akuko Gagara (The Rooster), Esin Oba (The Royal Horse) and Boer Bell are quite sizeable, while Owiwi (Owl) Okada (Bike) are much smaller. Popoola does not simply assemble a mix of discarded automobile parts, kitchen utensils, shovels, trowels and head pans into aesthetically-pleasing artworks – regardless of their varying sizes – he is mindful of recreating anatomically correct
pieces.

 

Esin Oba

 

Double Bass

 

Fruit of our Labour

 

Owiwi
Popoola is taking his art in a new direction, but he remains true to the influences of the art schools he attended in Auchi, Ile-Ife and America. His fusion of metal junk, cast bronze and aluminium, elaborate motifs and colours into effortful masterpieces is a stroke of genius that gives scrap a new lease of life.
Dotun Popoola’s “Irin Ajo was at Signature Gallery, Ikoyi until 10th March 2018.
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