After 40 years of the demise of portraitist, Akinola Lasekan (1916 -1972), his family members are gathering art community to posthumously celebrate the artist who was one the pioneers of modern Nigerian art.
The event, which includes a symposium and a four day art exhibition, has as its theme “Akinola Lasekan: His life and contributions to the development of contemporary Nigerian art”, according to the organizers holds on November 15 to 18, 2012 at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos. The event is to be chaired by Omooba Yemisi Shyllon.
On behalf o the family, Dr (Mrs.) Olusola Dublin-Green called on all practicing Nigerian artists, art collectors and other stakeholders to rally-round the family to celebrate one of their own at the planned symposium and art exhibition.
Lasekan is widely acknowledged as one of the pioneers and masters of Nigerian modern art, following in the footsteps of Aina Onabolu. He was of the same league with esteemed Nigerian artists such as Ugorji, Okaybulu, Ben Enwonwu, Erhabor Emokpae and others of that genre.
“Dancers” (1944)| by Akinola Lasekan
He was an innately talented artist who started his professional art practice as a textile designer before veering into book illustrations for publishing companies such as CMS Bookshop and Thomas Nelson Ltd. When he made a success of these, he established an art studio and became an art teacher in 1941.
While doing all these, he studied commercial art through correspondence studies with the Hammersmith school of Art in London. In 1962, he became a fellow of the royal society of Arts London, in the UK. In his bid to pass on knowledge to upcoming generations of Nigerians, he taught art in the later years of his life at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University).
He established a legacy as a nationalist with his sharp political cartoons, which appeared daily in the defunct West African Pilot as the clamour for national independence increased, and in his realistic paintings on different themes from allegorical paintings on pro-nationalism to landscape drawings.
Some of “ Lasekan’s popular works to be exhibited from the family collection include oil on canvas paintings such as “ The last political mission of Herbert Macaulay”, “The story of Dr, Nnamdi Azikiwe”, a pictorial and historical composition, “ The return of Ajaka of Owo” painted in poster color on paper, and “Atilogwu dancers”, amongst many others”. Other works to be exhibited are, three out of his early oil on canvas paintings in the collection of Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF) titled “Masquerade at the square”, “Cocoa cropping”, and “Village Market and Motor Park”.
Given his public spiritedness, several of his artworks were donated to the Nigerian National Gallery of Arts which were exhibited during the 2nd world black and African Festival of Arts and culture (Festac) in 1977. Other artworks also exist in museums across the world and in some private and public art collections, in and outside Nigeria. It follows therefore that Lasekan’s legacy is one of patriotism,selflessness, excellence and the nurturing of later generation of artists. The 40th anniversary of his death therefore provides Nigerian artists, collectors and other stakeholders with a veritable opportunity to celebrate his legacy and heritage.