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Imafidor set to excite art lovers with imposing sculpture in Ibadan

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United States (US) based Nigerian visual artist Jonathan Imafidor has been commissioned by the Oyo State Government to create a monumental sculpture to be installed in Olunloyo Airport Park Ibadan, the State Capital.

The groundbreaking artistic endeavour when completed is expected to reshape the creative landscape of the state.

The sculptural piece which stands at an impressive height of 65ft and meticulously crafted from reclaimed scrap metals, will undoubtedly emerge as a powerful symbol of the region’s profound cultural heritage and artistic excellence.

In virtual conference with the globally renowned artist who is currently based in Atlanta, GA, it was noted that the artist was raised amidst the resplendent natural beauty of Uneme-Nekhua, a small rural settlement in Southern Nigeria. He garnered international acclaim for his extraordinary talent and groundbreaking artistic vision.

His formative years were profoundly influenced by the captivating wonders of his environment. This unique upbringing has significantly shaped his artistic perspective and deepened his reverence for the intricate interplay between humanity and the natural world.

His artistic journey in the last two decades has traversed the realm of traditional canvas painting and expanded to encompass large-scale murals and sculptures, thanks to renowned sculptors like John Lopez, Dotun Popoola, and William Massey under whose guidance he honed his skills.

The artistic exploration has led Imafidor to embrace the transformative energy of sculping, using found metal objects, a technique  that has become synonymous with his distinctive artistic style.

The proposed monumental sculpture in Oyo State he says will serve as a testament to his exceptional creative prowess because it seamlessly fuse his commitment to ecological issues with his profound connection to African cultural heritage.

“This awe-inspiring sculpture will feature three towering human figures, resplendent in their majesty, standing atop an intricately crafted pedestal. Among these figures, two will symbolize the valiant male and female warriors of the ancient Oyo Kingdom, embodying

the region’s rich history and indomitable spirit.

“The third figure, a masterful representation of a drummer, will pay homage to the vibrant cultural tapestry that defines the region. The pedestal itself will take the form of a broadcasting dish, an emblematic tribute to Ibadan’s status as the birthplace of Africa’s inaugural broadcast station.

“The Olunloyo Airport Park known for its scenic beauty and cultural significance, is selected as the location where this magnificent sculpture will be installed.  “The prominent position within the park will ensure that the artwork is accessible to residents and visitors alike. And upon completion, the towering 65ft masterpiece will firmly establish itself as the tallest scrap metal sculpture in the entire nation, thereby propelling Ibadan

to the forefront of artistic innovation and cultural significance,” he said.

With more than 4 international awards, 23 sculptural pieces in public places in Nigeria, Turkey, France, United States of America and 17 group, joint and Solo exhibitions spanning 13 years, Imafidor’s  artistic achievements stand as a testament to his exceptional talent and unwavering dedication to his craft.

In 2009, he achieved a first class degree in Painting thus breaking the 20 year first class hiatus in the department of Fine Arts and Applied Arts, Obajemu Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. 

He shares  his feelings winning the installation of the art piece in Olunloyo Airport Park, Ibadan. “As I embark on the extraordinary opportunity to create a 65ft tall sculpture in Oyo state, Nigeria, I find myself filled with a mixture of excitement and concern. Nigeria, as a country, has not traditionally invested heavily in public art, and the existing public artworks suffer from neglect and insufficient maintenance.

“Sadly, many public sculptures are often demolished or relocated as soon as a new government assumes power. While I am grateful for the growing appeal for public art in the country, these circumstances evoke a sense of worry within me, hoping that my efforts will not be in vain.

“The prospect of contributing to the artistic landscape of Oyo state and leaving a lasting impression through my sculpture is undoubtedly exhilarating. Public art has the power to inspire, provoke thought, and foster a sense of identity and pride within a community.

It serves as a testament to the cultural and artistic heritage of a place, inviting dialogue and enriching the lives of those who encounter it.

“However, the transient nature of public sculptures in Nigeria presents a challenge that cannot be ignored. The fragility of these artistic expressions, subject to the whims of political change, is disheartening. It raises concerns about the longevity and preservation of the artwork I am about to create, and the potential impact it can have on the community.

“Despite these apprehensions, I remain committed to this project, driven by a belief in the transformative power of art. By pouring my creativity, passion, and expertise into this sculpture, I aspire to create a work that transcends the political landscape and resonates deeply with the people of Oyo state.”

Imafidor revealed that over the past decades, his artistic journey has been marked by significant accomplishments and growth.  He added that It all began with his first commissioned public piece; ‘Our Cultural Heritage,’ a large mural painting displayed at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Culture, and Tourism in Osun State. “Since then, my art has continuously evolved, influenced by my experiences in the United States and apprenticeships under renowned artists.

“My expertise in murals has led to the adornment of numerous public buildings throughout the United States. From the ‘last buffalo hunt’ in Faulkton, SD, ‘the wide Wild West’ in Lemmon, SD, ‘Buckhead’ in Buckhead, GA, and ‘Wild Alaska’ in Mellete, SD, amongst others, these grand creations have breathed life into the walls they grace, captivating viewers with their vibrancy and storytelling.”

In the realm of sculptures, Imafidor has crafted several remarkable pieces that have found their homes in prominent locations or have been loaned, notably; ‘Gazelle,’ a towering 20ft scrap metal sculpture, now stands proudly at the facade of the Presidential Symphony Orchestra Building in Ankara, Turkey. Another masterpiece, ‘Horsepower,’ a majestic 9ft equine sculpture, has been loaned to Trilith Village in Fayetteville, GA, amongst several others.

He equally spoke about the importance of collaboration in his artistic endeavors. “Collaboration has  played a significant role in my artistic endeavors. A collaboration with an Ecuadorian artist resulted in a stunning 7.5ft tall sculpture, now gracing the grounds of SCAD in Lacoste, France.

“Furthermore, my piece titled ‘Catfish’ is currently on loan to Webster City, Iowa, showcasing the reach and impact of my creations. Within the United States, my sculptural works have found homes in esteemed establishments, including top restaurants, hotels, and public spaces. Notable among them are: ‘Old Olive Tree,’ standing tall at 20ft. It serves as the captivating centerpiece in Alta Toro, Peachtree Atlanta, GA. Also, ‘Egbin,’ ‘Confluence,’ and ‘Eden’ adorn the walls of 5 Church Buckhead GA, Red Martini Peachtree GA, and Rosebar Buckhead GA, respectively, amongst several others.”


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