At first, every artist subjects him/herself to influences from existing norms, and subsequently, strives to create an identifiable personal signature. Such a signature redefines the artist. It is authentic, it is true, and represents a seamless amalgamation of technique, style and theme.
It is an understanding of the above that inspired artist Sobayo Abolore to dedicate endless passionate hours to create a world of beauty and reasoning in his work of art and fashion. Finally, after three decades of life experiences and years of active practice in art and fashion, he is ready for a solo exhibition that reflects three important areas of his life – Art, Fashion and Politics. The exhibition titled Room for Three opens on Saturday 14th November, 2015 at Red Door Gallery on Victoria Island in Lagos.
Two days to the opening of this exhibition, The Sole Adventurer chats with the artist on the relationship between these three areas of his life.
TSA: Which comes first, politics, art or fashion?
Abolore Sobayo: Art. Art is the background of my journey
TSA: In your exhibition narrative, you mentioned it has been three decades of art, fashion and politics which inspired the theme Room for Three, Can you tell us the timelines of your practice in each of these fields and how you got into politics?
Abolore Sobayo: I started art since I was in secondary school, which was around 1996 and I got into fashion in 2002. I was more interested in making African /Nigerian style of clothing which at the time was not as popular as western designs. Politics… I got into politics because I was thinking of ways to make an impact in my community and contribute my part to developing Oshodi. So I became actively involved in politics in 2011. I was Councillor of Oshodi / Isolo local government for three years then. I have been around here for a little over three decades and everything I have learnt in life has been put to use in all these three areas of the exhibition.
TSA: What was it like combining your creative work with politics? Did it influence the subject matters of your art at that time or even after? And what challenges did you encounter working with the government and representing the people?
Abolore Sobayo: It was not easy. Both are demanding jobs, but I tried to manage and balance things. I had challenges educating the people on their roles as citizens and my role as a councillor. I created time to hear their views and complaints, and channel resources to provide solutions. When these requests are not within my capacity, I direct it to the other arms of government. Being in politics at some point did influence some of my works.
TSA: On fashion, your popular designs are mainly costumes for art performance. Do you have a ready to wear line? And why is it important to you to connect your paintings and clothing designs with cultural elements in your root?
Abolore Sobayo: Yes. I have a ready to wear fashion line. I also enjoy working on costumes a lot because it pushes my boundaries of creativity. My cultural heritage is one of the most vital parts of my being, hence its influence and visibility in my works.
TSA: How do you intend to weave politics with art and fashion in Room for Three?
As the name implies there will be three different Rooms dedicated to these three aspects of me; fashion, art, and politics. All of which are connected to one another. Most of my paintings are done on adire. That was inspired by the fashion side of me. Some of my paintings are politically motivated, hence the interconnectivity of these three. Also, I realized politicians set trends in fashion, for instance, now that we have a president from the north, the northern cap is trending. Same thing happened when the president was from the southwest, outfits from that region was trendy.
Room For Three opens on Saturday 14th November, 2015 at 2pm and will run until 18th November, 2015.
Venue: Red Door gallery. 51b, Bishop Oluwole Crescent, Victoria Island, Lagos.