Olu Ogunnaike’s experimental art practice lies between sculpture, printmaking, performance and installation. Taking trees and the products made from them as repositories of memory within the places and communities in which they grow, he cites wood as a marker of possible encounters: between past and present; between people and the spaces they inhabit.
For An enclosed garden, Olu Ogunnaike reflects on the white cube by building a space within a space. Stud walls create a structure in relation to the existing gallery architecture, generating the idea of demarcated areas and a path through and around them. By entering the gallery, visitors step into a framed experience placing them instantly into the here-and-now of the setting. However, the predetermined route is merely a suggestion for it is also possible to squeeze through the wall studs or into openings frame by frame. The gallery space is to be discovered, rediscovered, seen from many different angles and viewpoints; one has to move and bend to gain access.
Olu Ogunnaike addresses systemic hierarchies through his materials by incorporating exotic woods and precious metals like gold, silver and bronze into his installation with the same commonness as ordinary building materials. He also turns to the pages of deaccessioned library books to emphasise the important role they play in understanding society. Printed, laser-cut or physically present, weeds are a leitmotif in the exhibition serving as a metaphor for the strength and the beauty of the unwanted and the discarded.The installation offers an alchemic redefining of materials as a way to reassess both structures and values.
The paradox of a defined space delineated by penetrable walls is echoed in Leftovers, a minimal work of six rectangular forms, the result of excess charcoal dust marking the work both in the action of its creation and its absence. With this, the performative and ephemeral character of Ogunnaike’s work is very much highlighted, a work which is both personal and generous as it asks us to look for alternatives and break free from strict norms. And with the silver sculptures cast from origami boats, we are offered a poetic vehicle to a place of inclusivity and empathy.