Omenka Gallery is proud to present Yet Another Place by Richardson Ovbiebo, one of the most exciting young sculptors working in Nigeria today. Aptly titled, this solo exhibition of sculptures and installations is a culmination of the artist’s experiments begun about 3 years ago that explore the use of texts in rhetorical manner in an attempt to bring into broader discourse the thoughts and actions of members of his immediate community, Somolu, and by extension Lagos.
Employed in sequential order, the layered texts fashioned after the stencils of a printer’s workshop, decode and convey ideas, descriptions, stories and experiences centered around housing and the home as a personal space. Words and phrases like ‘tenement, ‘settlement’ and ‘sale’ at once come into focus. Visually strong, Ovbiebo’s purpose provokes beyond the aesthetic elements of the majority of the works as he continues to interrogate and provide bold
social commentary. Developing a signature style, Ovbiebo is successful in incorporating texts in a manner that enriches the semantic meaning of the words, as well as highlights the overall visual qualities of the works.
Numbering 28, the works can be loosely grouped into 4 main strains; the freely standing blocks of steel, complete with a locking mechanism, a metaphor for the home as a sanctuary; and the hollow skeletal frameworks made up of strips of flattened metal, cleverly interwoven to delineate the head and shoulders, and sometimes torsos of his subjects. These forms often adorn coiffures composed of disused bicycle wheels, themselves metaphors for the circles of unity within the communities. Interestingly, their spokes and beaten paths reference these interconnected families.
There are also the stylized heads, which are a somewhat 2-dimensional version of their aforementioned cousins. Free standing, Agent (2013) is a fine example that is undiminished in its power, despite its planar rendering. The others, also 2-dimensional, are made from aluminium composite board, a material popular amongst many architects today to clad buildings. Framed with metal, the works underscore the Ovbiebo’s engagement with social and housing infrastructure. The last group is made up of works comprised primarily of plastics. Oftentimes, the motifs of human heads are visible and at other times, the bold lettering dominates the picture plane.
Overall, the works are strong, each documenting the artist’s personal journey as he locates his space in a rapidly developing metropolis, its urban realities and many external influences, from rural to urban migration, as well as the collusion between tradition and modernity.