Albert Einstein, as seen by Jude Olotu.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Renowned Nigerian artist Jude Olotu opened his first art gallery in Dubai on March 14. Excel Art Gallery, as the gallery is known, is located in Mazaya Shopping Centre on Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai.
As part of the inaugural, Olotu showcases his exhibition, a collection of works titled ‘Essentials’ that runs till March 18. “I am excited to present the global unveiling of ‘Essentials’ to the world; I believe the works in the collection are unique and thought-provoking,” said Olotu. “The exhibition will celebrate my creative process; I believe it will be a great experience for art enthusiasts and curators, alike.” ‘Essentials’ is a collection of works that reflect the growing trend in contemporary art, where reality is challenged, as is perception.
Olotu’s talents have diverse inspiration. Whether exploring different forms of art and styles birthed by the vibrant colours of nature in the rain forests of the Niger Delta or the lush savannah of the middle belt region of Nigeria, they are characterised by his use of vivid colours and intricate patterns, which he employs to create complex and multi-layered compositions.
From arts inspired by cosmology to expressionism and pure abstract, the works reflect the process of creative introspection. They have an eclectic nature – a testament to the artist’s life and personal experiences. It also includes the cultural heritage and the complex socio-political issues that affect the African continent.
Olotu’s paintings and sculptures also reflect his acknowledgement of and appreciation of the traditional art forms of his native Nigeria, while it incorporates contemporary techniques and styles. His works have addressed issues such as political corruption, gender inequality, and environmental degradation. Through his art, he seeks to encourage dialogue and provoke thought about these important issues and their impact on African societies. As an artist, he is committed to using his work as a means of social commentary and to promoting cultural understanding and appreciation.
“My art is my vulnerability, my offering, my protest, and my pain. It’s like peeling away the layers of my personality and seeing into my soul,” Olotu has said. “You cannot help but stop and stare as you begin to unravel the layers of mystery and thought that go into each masterpiece,” a gallery owner has commented about the intensity of Olotu’s art.
Olotu’s rise in the African art scene has been noteworthy. A late-in-life artist, he decided to pursue his calling in the arts after enjoying long careers in engineering, music, sports, and poetry – all of which is reflected in his work.
Olotu has said that for long, he withheld exhibiting his works as an instrument to communicate his sadness at the state of his country. When he did so, it was an eruption of feelings, which spoke of the glories of the African Continent, though the sadness seeped through at times.
He hails from the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria. His love for arts was said to have started when he was a child growing up in the city of Jos, also his birthplace, where the landscape was as though it was painted on a canvas. “From the tabletop plateaus to the flowing rivers and grasslands, it was where my talent was born,” Olotu has recalled.
He graduated from the University of Ilorin in 1986, with a degree in civil engineering and his continuing odyssey sees him currently based between Dubai and Lagos, where he continues to create works that try to change perceptions of contemporary African art. He has exhibited his works in several solo and group exhibitions in Nigeria and internationally, including World Art Dubai, New York Art Expo, Lagos Art Expo, the African Art Fair in Paris, and the National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C. His works are collected by private collectors and institutions across the globe, including the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
Olotu has also created and nurtured many talents and students of the arts, which led to the creation of the Excel Signature Creative Hub. It is a place where artists are nurtured in fine arts, digital arts, metal art, wood art, sculpturing, product design, cinematography and production, music, and photography and given exposure on a national and international scale.
Excel Arts Gallery, whose forerunner is the Excel Signature Creative Hub, is located in the heart of Dubai. Its modern and spacious interiors are designed to provide an immersive and inspiring experience for art enthusiasts and collectors alike. The gallery showcases a spectrum of contemporary and modern art from established and emerging artists worldwide. Excel Art Gallery will be an arts organisation that manages the careers of diverse established and emerging artists in Dubai, Africa, and the Middle East. The gallery’s mandate is to expand the boundaries of contemporary art from the Global South to the international art market. It also offers advisory services to assist clients in selecting and acquiring artwork that best suits their tastes and collections. “Whether you’re a seasoned collector or a newcomer to the art world, Excel Arts Gallery is a must-visit destination for art lovers in Dubai,” the gallery says.
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