Oshilaja lights up London with
"Regarding my person as an artist, one is not about making conceptual ideals, but producing classical artefacts in the new sense." This is the opening statement of 23-year-old Damilola Oshilaja who used his brain and paints...……to mount an exhibition for 28 days, at East London's Empire Gallery. The exhibition, tagged: The Art Grunge Show was his first major solo show in Tony Blair's United Kingdom; using the East London site as his base, the painter..…tossed an artistic Molotov cocktail blending icons with action (splash) painting, and figurative art…unto the crowd of spectators of British art. Damilola, the Cultural Attaché of a Sweden-based cultural, scientific and not-for-profit organization, Nôka International Theatre, spent a large part of his youth in Lagos working under Nigerian artist, Dafe Sowho. While taking The Guardian round the exhibition which paraded Daughter of Vlad (Romanian girl) 2002/04 and Blue Planet (New World Order) 2003 both using cel vinyl and acrylic, Damilola explained that his father promoted the interest of painting in him. Fusing bold, fierce graffiti elements with an abstract sentiment……....and the descriptive style of figurative art, Art Grunge struck as a combination of elements of art have never been blended before. The artist also gave credit and praise to his mother…..
Damilola who refers to himself as a "self-acquired artist," carefully making the difference with the notion of the self-taught artist said, artists of the latter kind of orientation tend to be marginalized in representation within the mainstream. To the artist, "this is an exceptional exhibition," not only as a result of the painter's skilful display of the three different styles that melt to form Art Grunge but also in the use the artist makes of the canvas in his work. Slashing it, painting it, ripping it or burning it, he treats the canvas as something beyond simple background material, utilizing it as part of the painting itself. To him the canvas is far more than mere background material; it is an essential part of the work. The artist draws inspiration from the world around him, from his heritage and from film, music, peoples, art, myth & folklore, and all. Traces of these influences can be found in some of the artist's most significant pieces, such as Blue Planet: New World Order 2003, where the artist uses cel vinyl, acrylic, ink, oil pastel, poster paint and spray paints to create a powerful social interpretation of the current anarchic state of the world. Employing the same materials to transmit a forceful message in the striking 9/11 2003 piece, the artist has also equipped the painting with partially hidden symbols that carry reflective meanings, symbols that range from death to Icarus…
Damilola however, added that his solo exhibition in Africa would not come about until 2008/2009, as a result of a tight exposition schedule in Geneva, San Diego, and Tokyo. Testifying to the ability of Damilola, to elevate the painter into the pantheons of art mastery was an assistant director in the Empire Gallery named Sophie West, an American. In the exhibition halls were other works such as the White collar man and RIP, which features late Afro-Beat King, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix and Jean-Michel Basquiat…
[By G. Gbadamosi]
(Extract from article published in The Guardian, April 2005)