June 18, 2021


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Abayomi Barber, Nigeria’s foremost modern artist – Lai Mohammed

Abayomi Barber

By Babajide Awoyinfa

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has eulogised one Pa Abayomi Barber, one of Nigeria’s foremost modern artist for his foresight in modern art.

Mohammed made the remarks at a special exhibition of Barber’s artworks held at the National Art Gallery to commemorate his 92nd birthday on Tuesday in Lagos.

Represented by the General Manager of the National Theatre, Iganmu, Prof. Sunday Ododo, the minister said that the elder statesman has devoted his life to the service of the arts.

“The Ministry of Information is glad that this nonagenarian has remained active and continues his mentorship of the young ones till date.

“It is no wonder that the core of students he trained while at the Centre for Cultural Studies, University of Lagos is waxing strong today as professionals in visual arts and entrepreneurs.

“They have well-equipped studios with students eager to learn.

“Indeed, many of his students have graduated and set up on their own outfits and training others.

“This aligned very well with one of the cardinal points of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration of encouraging entrepreneurship among the youths.

“We salute the foresight of Abayomi Barber in ensuring that products of his Art School of Thought become employers of labour rather than job seekers.

“He is a visionary and the federal government is glad to be part of his celebration today.

“It is my ardent wish and desire that the arts sector takes its prime place in contributing to the GDP of the country.

“This is why the National Gallery of Art has my support in its quest to become a revenue-generating agency,’’ the minister said.

Welcoming dignitaries to the special exhibition, the Director-General, National Gallery of Art (NGA), Ebeten Ivara, remarked that he was humbled that “today we have in our midst a living legend in the visual arts sub-sector’’

At 92, he said Barber “is as relevant to the sector as he was when he started out more than four decades ago as a youngster’’.

Ivara noted that going through the art book on the “foremost artist” was very enlightening.

“I must say that going through the book on this foremost artist was very enlightening.

“One of the interesting aspects of his life is his penchant for self-improvement and appetite to hone his innate skill as an artist.

“He was never satisfied as he always yearned for more and by so doing blazed a trail even with little formal education.

“This is a lesson for a younger generation.

“I urge all of you to get out of your comfort zone and strive to improve whatever skill you have,’’ the director-general said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event, which took place at the exhibition arena, National Museum, was attended by dignitaries in the government parastatals, artistic industry and well-wishers.

Abayomi Adebayo Barber, born Oct. 23, 1928, is a Nigerian contemporary artist, who founded the Abayomi Barber Art School in Lagos.

He is best known for the application of naturalism and surrealism methods in his artworks.

Some of his signature works include life-sized busts of former Nigerian president, Murtala Mohammed; the former Oba of Ile-Ife, Adesoji Aderemi another famous work is an oil painting of Shehu Shagari.

The painter and sculptor Abayomi Barber is known for artworks that manage to combine superrealism with intense expressionism.

In his remarks, the Chairman, Governing Board, National Gallery of Art, Ambassador Azores Sulaiman described the celebrant as an exceptional artist and master of masters.

“It always gives me pleasure to be in the gathering of artists.

“This is even more so with the calibre of the personality we are celebrating today.

“This outstanding artist through his Art School of Thought has raised the bar in art teaching and mentoring.

“His style, which does not impede or rush knowledge but strives towards each student learning at his or her pace, is an idea our higher institution should understudy,’’ NAN quotes Sulaiman as saying. (NAN)

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