Communicating Islamic culture through artistic expression
One major point scored by Ridwan ADK-Osinowo through his on-going solo exhibition at the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos is the impression that, after all, Islam does allow expresion of feelings through creative enterprise.
Tagged Seeds of Peace: the Sower and the Envoy, the opening ceremony last Sunday attracted distinguished personalities such as Head of Service (HoS), Lagos State, Mrs. Folashade Sherifat Jaji who wore three caps as she represented Governor Akinwumi Ambode, Deputy Governor, Mrs. Idiat Oluranti Adebule, and herself; chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Jamiu Ekungba; Prof. Jamiu Adetoro of Lagos State University; Chief Missioner, Ansarudeen Society of Nigeria, Imam Abdurrahman Ahmad who double as guest speaker; Chief Executive Officer, Ibeji Foundation, Alhaji Rafiu Ebiti; Executive Director, Ibeji Foundation, Khaerat Sodique; Dr. Owolabi Junaid of Department of History and Strategic Studies, University of Lagos including many artists, art lovers and well wishers.
Featuring 40 works carring Islamic impressions and messages, the show, jointly organised by Halal Art Gallerieo and Ibeji Foundation, wil run till Sunday, September 6.
Declaring the exhibition open, Mrs Folashade Jaji, said, “ I would like to use this opportunity to commend Osinowo and the promoters of Halal Art Gallerieo for their pioneering efforts in showcasing and communicating Islamic Culture through this medium. The message of peace and peaceful co-existence which is being converged through this exhibition is very instructive. The need for religious tolerance and harmony cannot be over-emphasized especially at this time when criminal activities are being perpetrated against humanity around the world in the name of religion.
“At a time like this, all true adherents of different religions belief must unite in denouncing these criminal elements more importantly, we must also not relent in the effort to regularly showcase the true teachings and tenets of our religion to the world. This is particularly relevant for the young people who must be protected against being led into taking actions and exhibiting attitude that have no basis in our religion. We must commit ourselves to building a peaceful society in which we see each other as one. It is only in this atmosphere that our society can achieve meaningful progress and development.”
In his stimulating lecture, Imam Ahmad celebrated the inimitable creative power of Allah from where all artists draw their inspiration.
According to, the Creator’s artistic ingenuity is evident in the way He caused many things to be, including the way He shaped heaven and earth.
For the exhibiting artist, the show is coming about nine years after a similar, but group gathering of artists under the theme, Extracts From the Master Artist at Didi Museum, in Lagos, in 2006. And like the previous group shows in 2006, 2007 and 2013, works on display at National Museum are inspired by his Islamic faith, brings into the creative art space the richness of Qur’anic divinity, using the resilient beauty of calligraphy designs with fresh techniques and styles.
As an extension of the exhibition’s mission in using art to spread tolerance and co-existence among the people, an interfaith forum has been scheduled to hold on Sunday, the last day of the exhibition, featuring participants across Islam, Christianity and other religions.
The exhibition affords Osinowo to show some of his new techniques. For examples, in works such as Ka’abah: A Place of Piece and Muhammad: Messenger of Mercy, the artist’s technique of collaging calligraphy in a composite of structural images brings a depth of dimensionality. During a preview, Osinowo describes the techniques as
“Aluminium Composite Panel (ACP) on board, sublimation plate and sublimation printing.” Whether on board or as stained-glass, Osinowo’s style and technique in calligraphy make artistic contents of the pieces complementary to the spiritual essence of the composite and themes.
“Going by the exhibition’s title, each of over 40 artworks on display symbolizes a seed of peace; the Sower is Almighty God while individual member of the society is the envoy that is expected to walk the noble course,” the artist explained to select guests. “Titles of the individual art pieces were mostly generated from verses of the Qur’an and sayings of Prophet Muhammad which form the foundation of Islam as a religion of peace.”
Speaking on the socio-economic value of using Islamic art as a tool in promoting co-existence, CEO of Forum for Islamic Welfare and Education, Alhaji Abdulrafiu Ebiti noted that art in general “is an emerging form of profession in Nigeria.” He advocated creation of windows especially in tertiary institutions for Islamic art to be taught academically.
Responding to an observation that a section of Islamic faith in Nigeria still sees art from a suspicion perspective as being idolatry, Ebiti cautioned that the religion is not against art, but abhors representation of human being in objects or sculptural forms. “Islam is knowledge; but knowledge varies. Islam is not against art, but object and representing somebody’s face.” He stressed the beauty of cursive writing as a form of art that is welcome in Islam.
Ebiti however agreed that “the challenge is in proper education of the people on what is art” as against what Islam does not accept.
On the purpose of the interfaith forum, Jamiu Adeyeye noted “intolerance,” as the core of conflicts across the world. He assured that the forum would add to several other efforts at bringing harmony among Nigerians across faiths.
Born in Lagos about five decades ago, Osinowo (a native of Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State) is a professional painter and an entrepreneur with versatility in graphics design and printing. He obtained an HND in Painting (1996) and an OND, General Art (1989) both from Yaba College of Technology, Lagos.