Solo exhibition: Ademola stays true to form at Banana Hill

Artwork by Adeshina Ademola at Banana Hill Gallery. PHOTO | NMG

The art of Adeshina Ademola, currently covering the walls at Banana Hill Gallery is standard geometry. If you have seen two or three of the Nigerian artist’s colourful paintings, you basically have seen them all.

The artist is true to form when he entitles his exhibition, which opens the week before Christmas, ‘For the sake of me’.

He’s being honest in that regard since it’s less complicated to think and draw formulaically than to rise to the point of inspiration where one thrives with new ideas, visual concepts, and meaningful statements of soul.

There’s nothing wrong with his approach to painting. Only that it feels more like wallpaper than fine art. But wallpaper itself, though repetitive, can be beautiful, elegant, and eye-catching which are words applicable to Ademola’s art as well.

Many artists work in the Nigerian style. It’s a format followed by painters not wishing to challenge themselves to feel the pulse of their purpose for doing art and moving forward.

Yet experimenting and pursuing new media, methods, art materials, and techniques might call for courage, a quality not everyone has in sufficient supply.

Artwork by Adeshina Ademola at Banana Hill Gallery. PHOTO | NMG

So we can still appreciate the lines, geometric designs, and colours of Ademola’s art. It’s the kind that is good to take home and place by itself where it can look stunning.

Its singularity on your wall doesn’t disclose that it was like the 39th edition of one specific painting. The other 38 are similar but a shade lighter or darker, the lines delineating the triangles, spheres, or quadrilaterals bolder or more refined.

The point is the artist paints well. His work is well-finished but it is purely decorative. That’s not bad, but not profound or revelatory.

Reasonably priced

What is always fun about heading out past Runda, Rosslyn, and Two Rivers, up to Ruaka, Muchatha, and finally arriving in Banana Hill is meeting Shine Tani, his fellow artist and wife Rahab, and their first-born Njoki who is now the keeper of the books.

All three are ever-busy, either painting, scouting out new artists both in and outside regional borders, or keeping tabs on the family finances.

What is also intriguing about a trip to Banana Hill is checking out the racks to find a mix of many artists producing reasonably priced works.

One can find small paintings by everyone from Shine himself and Peter Kibunja whose art is surprisingly similar stylistically to that of Ademola’s to Willington Mutabe, Julius Kimemia, Ronnie Ogwang, and Martin Kamuyu.

On the other hand, a part of the gallery has been taken over by the public storage of an even wider array of larger paintings which are well worth checking out.

Here is where you will find any gems which an artist has randomly brought, hoping they can be at least seen in the gallery. Many younger artists do this.

But also, Shine, in his scouting, may encourage artists from elsewhere to send their works and they will be shown, the calendar permitting.

Artwork by Adeshina Ademola at Banana Hill Gallery. PHOTO | NMG

Thus, one can find works by everyone from Paul ‘Kaspa’ Kasambeko, the late Expedito Mwebe, David Kigozi, and Leonard Ngure whose busy matatu market scenes are clearcut indicators that he’s a disciple of Bertiers Mbatia, Kenya’s first visual political satirist.

Other talents

Bertiers will ever be one of a kind. He is also a generous spirit who, out of a selfless heart, called together a group of aspiring artists to come learn from him.

He called the group DARTS, an acronym meaning ‘Discover Artistic Talents’. But the point is, these aspirants had initially come to him asking for artistic advice and guidance, and he responded by creating the group and teaching them to paint as he does.

Now a number of them are like Leonard, out in the field and technically in competition with him.

But because Bertiers is a real artist, he fears no one. He is on his own path, coming up with his own inspired ideas, and always surprising us with both his paintings and sculptures.

Ngure is good. So is Kennedy Kinyua, another former member of DARTS whose art can frequently be found at Patrick Kinuthia gallery in Rosslyn Riviera Mall.

Artwork by Adeshina Ademola at Banana Hill Gallery. PHOTO | NMG

Other artists whose works are either in the racks or stacked at one side of the gallery’s entrance include Sebastian Kiarie, Ismael Damba, Mike Chalo, Jeff Wabugu, Yiga Robert, and many others.

Shine also has several sculptures, including two by Expedito which may be good news to collectors since the late Alan Donovan once described him as ‘the Picasso of East African art.’

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