Meet Patrick Akpojotor with SMO Contemporary

If Walls Could Speak : An exploration into how identity is shaped by the built environment.

Patrick Akpojotor, Face on the Street. 122 X 92cm. 48 x 36 Inches. Acrylic on canvas. © Copyright the artist. Courtesy SMO Contemporary
Patrick Akpojotor, Face on the Street. 122 X 92cm. 48 x 36 Inches. Acrylic on canvas. © Copyright the artist. Courtesy SMO Contemporary

Patrick Akpojotor, one of Nigeria’s most promising emerging artists, is currently on display, for his debut solo exhibition If Walls Could Speak. The exhibition, curated by SMO Contemporary Art, hosted at the Wheatbaker, includes 38 oil paintings, pencil sketches, seminal works in wood, and an installation of copper sculptures, which represent the artists’ exploration of our subconscious connections between identity and the built environment.

In light of the sustainable development* goals SDGs’ recognition of the important role cities and human settlements play in addressing global challenges of ‘inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’ spaces for human development Patrick Akpojotor explores how architecture and our environment influence our individual and collective identities. Growing up in the megacity of Lagos, Patrick Akpojotor was fascinated by the names of streets and buildings, and started playing with the personification of abandoned buildings which harbor silent memories of forgotten people and historic events. After graduating from the Auchi Polythenic in Fine Art in 2008, followed by a degree in graphic design from Lagos Polytechnic in 2013, Patrick Akpojotor worked for Professor Bruce Onobrakpeya as a studio assistant. In 2016, Patrick Akpojotor was deeply disturbed by the violent ejection of residents of the waterfront slum community of Otodo Gbame in Lekki, where thousands of people were displaced. He channeled his anger and frustration into his paintings and wood sculptures, creating buildings with human features and emotions.

These signature anthropomorphic structures with their cubist geometry, perspective, balance, and form, were his creative response to the realities of mega-city population pressure. His imagined structures and abstract compositions interrogate our sense of rootedness and belonging. Later that year, Patrick Akpojotor won the first ArtXLagos Prize for emerging artists with this important body of work.

“Akpojotor’s works stimulate us to a refreshing experience of the artist’s intuition, childhood, the search of identity, adventure and romance with space,” commented Prof. Jerry Buhari, art critic and Professor of Fine Arts at Ahmadu Bello University. “Watching Patrick grow as an artist over a span of fifteen years I have a sense of fulfillment as a mentor,” added Master Artist Prof. Bruce Onobrakpeya, a pioneer of Nigeria’s contemporary art scene. “He is very talented, intelligent, diligent and passionate, and is able to draw inspiration from things around him and from faraway places.”

Patrick Akpojotor, There was a Time, 2019. Charcoal on paper. 71 x 51 cm. 28 x 20 in. © Copyright the artist. Courtesy SMO Contemporary.
Patrick Akpojotor, There was a Time, 2019. Charcoal on paper. 71 x 51 cm. 28 x 20 in. © Copyright the artist. Courtesy SMO Contemporary.

“These amazing works not only give us an emotional feel of the rich and colorful history of Lagos’ built environment; they also pay homage and immortalize important people, like Dr. Stella Adadevoh, whose timely medical intervention saved Lagos from the spread of the dreaded ebola disease in 2014.”

Sandra Mbanefo Obiago, the curator of the exhibition.
Patrick Akpojotor, Mindscape, 2019. Acrylic on canvas. 91.44 x 91.44 cm. 36 x36 In. © Copyright the artist. Courtesy SMO Contemporary
Patrick Akpojotor, Mindscape, 2019. Acrylic on canvas. 91.44 x 91.44 cm. 36 x36 In. © Copyright the artist. Courtesy SMO Contemporary

“Patrick Akpjotor’s work captures the heart of traditional, colonial, and contemporary architecture scattered across the Lagos cityscape” concluded Architect Mosun Ogunbanjo, Director of the Wheatbaker. “We are proud to host If Walls Could Speak and use our hotel to promote the best of Nigeria’s creative talent to a growing local and international community of art enthusiasts.” If Walls Could Speak is supported by Louis Guntrum wines and will be open to the public until November 8, 2019.

*From the Oslo Manifesto: Design & Architecture for the SDGS; Goal 11 recognizes the important role of cities in addressing global challenges with the need to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. The SDGs as a whole reiterate the importance of cities both in terms of terms of their vulnerability as well as their growing opportunity.

If Walls Could Speak
1st Solo show of Patrick Akpojotor
SMO Contemporary
On view until November 8 2019
At The Wheatbaker Hotel Lagos
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