Man and Machine




“I created Man and Machine from my experience in my father’s printing press where I worked for several years as a machine operator before gaining admission into an art school in 2002…” Abass Kelani, 2011.

From November 19 to December 2, 2011, the Omenka Gallery will present Man and Machine, an exhibition by contemporary Nigerian artist, Abass Kelani featuring paintings, drawings and a sound installation of a printing machine at work.

According to the artist, “The fascinating way machines operate as different parts to achieve a common goal” was the inspiration for this collection.”

Through the work on display, Kelani probes the difficult relations of belonging and identity and in particular, the shared history of man and machine through a wide range of different media including sound. In addition to acrylics, oils, pastels and charcoal, he employs modelling paste, disused printing machine parts, collages of magazine cut-outs and newsprints.

Kelani worked for several years in his father’s printing press before gaining admission into art school. He focuses on the wheel as a significant component of the machine. A series of charcoal drawings complement the paintings. It is in these drawings on paper that Kelani himself mimics the output of the digital camera, proving himself as the consummate draughtsman. Each drawing reveals a dual nature; at once a blurry abstraction suggestive of movement and a detailed description of closely observed reality. Squinting through the eyes, a point arrives where the picture plane suddenly resolves into startling focus.

This bi-focal technique is indicative of how the artist has evolved in his experiments with technology and more traditional media. From Kelani’s perspective, we understand how a mechanized world mimics our existence.

Professor Frank A. O. Ugiomoh asserts: “A consistency attends to them” (this series) “…calling attention to how our mechanized world mimics the human as a configuration of parts that work in harmony and where all the parts are important. Thus man is a template for the machine as Abass underscores and asks that we celebrate industriousness, thanks to the technological man” “…In the segmentations that characterize these works, a willful collaboration of these disparate parts is harmoniously constructed.”

Abass Kelani was born in 1979. He had his early education at Baptist Boys High School, Abeokuta and in 2007, emerged overall best graduating student with a distinction in Painting at the Yaba College of Technology. He has since worked as a full-time studio artist participating in several group shows and a solo exhibition. His paintings are in several important collections in Nigeria and abroad.

For enquiries please call 2349090846991 or contact us at info@gallery.omenka.net.

High-resolution images and more information on the artist are available on request.

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