Friday, October 22, 2010

Prof Agbo Folarin is dead
Prof Agbo Folarin, a renowned sculptor and art scholar, is dead. He was born in Ibadan in 1936. Prof Folarin, a founding member of the Department of Fine Arts at then University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), died in the United Kingdom on Thursday, 21 October, 2010.
According to Dr. Babaseinde Ademuleya, incumbent Head of Department (HoD), Department of Fine Arts at OAU; Prof Folarin, who was married to a Briton, frequently travelled to the UK, where his family resides; and news of his death filtered in from Europe-based relatives.
Although OAU’s Fine Arts Department was formally launched around 1975, Folarin was already working at that institution, years before then, through his involvement in the “Ori Olokun” project, which subsequently morphed into various departments around 1957/1958; added Visual Artist and African Art Historian Dr Ademuleya, who further recalled that Folarin was one of the earliest applicants to be interviewed and subsequently employed to work at Ife University those days. Folarin’s contemporaries at that time included Prof J. R. Ojo and theatre scholar Prof Ola Rotimi (also deceased), who later relocated to University of Port Harcourt.
Folarin studied art at Yaba College of Technology from 1955 to 1958, before proceeding to Regent Street Polytechnic and Central School of Arts and Design both in London to further his education, after a stint working as a graphic designer in the Federal Ministry of Information, Lagos. Upon returning from London, Folarin joined the staff of Ife University and by 1966 was already a Junior Research Fellow. Although “Ori Olokun” had been tactfully phased out around 1972, Prof Folarin finally retired from Obafemi Awolowo University in 2003 or 2004.
Aside holding two master’s degrees, in sculpture and architecture, Folarin was also a notable writer as borne out by “Maternal goddess in Yoruba Art: A new aesthetic acclamation”, one of his books. Folarin’s sculptures are in major collections in different parts of the world; and, in Nigeria, the Omoba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation has some of his works.
Incumbent Commissioner for Tourism in Ondo State, Chief Tola Wewe, is one of the numerous prominent citizens Professor Folarin helped to groom in his many decades as lecturer at Ife University. Other products of the Fine Arts Department of “Great Ife” include Kunle Filani (PhD), Yomi Ola, Victor Ekpuk and Wole Lagunju. The last three of this foursome and Tola Wewe made “Daily Times”, incontestably, the leading force in the Nigerian media as far as illustrations were concerned, while Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi and Dr. Femi Sonaike held sway as MD of Daily Times Plc and Daily Times Editor respectively.
In a telephone conversation with mauricearchibongtravels Chief Wewe, said he will always remember the late Prof Folarin for the man’s invaluable contributions at seminars, and also for the deceased’s fantastic and futuristic sculptures.
“He was very articulate, very sound and ostensibly well read. He was not only a great art scholar, his sculptures were fantastic and futuristic; they do not belong to this age”, enthused Wewe, one of Nigeria’s foremost painters.
“I knew he was somewhat down. He taught me at Ife, so I could tell he wasn’t looking as strong as he used to be, but still I am shocked and unhappy that he has left us”, rued Wewe as he recalled the last time he met the recently departed Folarin.
That encounter took place in Lagos in March this year. Both men served on the jury of a painting contest, which was an adjunct of the 2010 Black Heritage Festival. Art historian, painter and a former Dean, Faculty of Environmental Design at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Jerry Buhari; Chairman, Lagos Chapter, Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA), Mr. Oliver Enwonwu and Ms Ndidi Dike were among other jurors of the international art competition, dubbed “City of a thousand mask”, where Wewe last saw his now-deceased former teacher.
A former Deputy Rector of Yaba College of Technology, Dr. Kolade Oshinowo confirmed he had also heard about Folarin’s transition as did Mr. Simon Ikpakroyin, Acting Director, Research and Education at the National Gallery of Art (NGA). For Ikpakroyin, who said news of the painful development hit him Friday morning on his way to the office; Prof Folarin’s death could compel a scholastic shift. Prof Folarin’s biography is one of the subjects of Mr. Ikpakroyin’s doctoral programme, and he had discussed with the respondent; who, the NGA director said; had agreed to the exercise and given him a date for a meeting at the subject’s Ibadan home.
“Now, the man has gone”, lamented Ikpakroyin; who added: “he has gone with his wealth of knowledge and it is very sad because this was knowledge acquired over many years but, which had not been tapped for the future generations”.
As acting director of research at NGA, Ikpakroyin sure knows what he is talking about. Hear him: “I’m very sure; no one has done any extensive study on Prof Folarin’s life and work. And, his death is another lesson to all art historians and other scholars to work on the few master artists still alive. We should take the bull by the horn because some of them are very old and time is not on their side”.
The late Prof Agbo Folarin is survived by his widow and children, including Evelyn Adeola Folarin, who was born in 1970; among others.

No comments:

Post a Comment