From the science of creating art through machine, Kelani Abass takes a painterly journey into the relationship between an artist and his tool of mass reproduction.
This creative journey in the career of young Abass has a connection to his early exposure to the printing press, as a kid. Still in contact with the printing industry, almost on a daily basis, his thoughts form the body of work for his second solo show titled, Man and Machine, held at Omenka Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Having established figural and representational identity, particularly in pastel, the theme of this show, one expected should avail Abass a chance to affirm this form. However, the artist makes an almost 360 degree turn as most of the works, particularly the machine-related ones, float in a different realm.
For example in Man and Machine (Synergy), a triptych of newsprint, acrylic, charcoal on canvas, the human content is obscured in sprockets and wheels-dominated composition.
Kelani explains that the theme is derived “from experiences in my father’s printing press where I worked for years as a machine operator before gaining admission to study art, formally in 2002.”
He notes, “it is fascinating to observe the way machines operate as different parts to achieve a common goal.”
He is an artist whose strength, among others, is in dissolving and fusing images, sometimes in surreal- form, the skill Abass employs in the work that won him the first prize at the Lagos Black Heritage Festival Painting Competition’s Lagos, City of A Thousand Masks, hovers over Man and Machine. This, he exudes in such works as Illusion IV and Man and Machine II.
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