Intensely passionate about art, Gbolade Omidiran is an artist with a mastery of his craft. A graduate of the Department of Art , Obafemi Awolowo University , Gbolade`s repertoire of original art is extensive. In a few hours with him in his home in Ile-Ife, I was inspired by the innovative mind of this man.
From the elegant building with the modern stone facade, to the carefully laid concrete tiles, Gbolade`s home itself spoke volumes. This was the home of a successful artist with a taste and passion for creativity. This was the home of a creative; confident in his talents and abilities, ambitious to find new ways to express himself.
As Gbolade gave me a tour of his gallery, a fairground of colour , my eyes darted in glee. Every piece was unique, every piece a magnet drawing the eye in and awakening my imaginative spirit.
Beyond this, the theme of experimentation was evident. We talked about the range of eclectic materials and techniques which Gbolade employed in his work. Wood carvings. African masks. African drums. Bronze figurines. All around the gallery, his curated collection carefully selected to reflect a rich heritage of African art.
Wistfully recalling his time as an undergraduate , Gbolade spoke of the value of passing on knowledge to fuel the next generation of artists. Tutored by the great teachers and visionaries like Agbo Folarin and Baba Lamidi Fakeye, Gbolade understands the importance of mentoring upcoming artists.
All around me, young artists (mostly undergraduates from the University of Ife) were in various states of learning, experimentation and creative sharing; discovering the bridge between raw talent, craftsmanship and discipline. The rapport was infectious.
As a prolific artist sought after by clientele across Nigeria, Gbolade is hardworking, constantly creating bespoke murals and paintings for private homes all across Nigeria and internationally.
And Gbolade continues to grow. In 2014, a purpose-built gallery was opened to showcase his artistic genius and collections. It has become the destination for all lovers of art, tourist and clientele looking for something unique to adorn their homes or add to their collections of African art.
My afternoon with Gbolade will stay with me for a long time. It felt nostalgic, warm and filled my spirit. The creative use of shapes, symbols, colour, motifs and African imagery left me re-energised. I came away with a deep appreciation for the abilities of this artist and the humanity which he conveyed in the stories he told through his art.