Dapo Akintunde’s exhibition on Afrocentric vehicle designs which ends today in Lagos is a gift to the Nigerian automotive industry.
ENTERING Art Pantheon, Oniru, Victoria Island feels like the futuristic den or workspace of a sci-fi enthusiast. But you are not. This is a week-long solo exhibition by designer and architect Dapo Akintunde titled “Autovista: African Vehicle Visions”.
The exhibition, which opened on Sunday March 27 and ends tonight at the gallery located in Oniru, Lagos, is a rarity. We usually have exhibits of figures, shapes, and nature, but rarely those featuring vehicle designs that can accelerate Nigeria’s industrial development if properly harnessed.
Adorning the walls of the ground floor and upper floor of the gallery are fantastic rendered drawings in watercolor and acrylic made over two years by Akintunde, who started life as an architect but became automotive designer.
Realizing that Nigeria’s path to development is through industrial growth, Akintunde intentionally left architecture to pursue another master’s degree in vehicle design at the Royal Academy of Art in London.
The result of this training and years of experience was evident at the exhibition, which featured more than 50 designs of various sizes that will make designers salivate.
And as Art Pantheon Director Nana Sonoiki rightly noted, complex and simple designs could be crucial in our technology development if Akintunde gets the right support.
She noted that the show presents a broader view of Nigeria’s automotive and creative industries. “Autovista is a unique exhibition in Nigeria’s history, creating a space to engage with art as a catalyst for technological advancement and national progress.”
The artist himself thinks the same. That’s why he left a lucrative architecture practice in the UK to pursue his dreams in Nigeria.
“The fine arts are the soul of a nation. You don’t recognize old civilizations by politicians; it is through their art. This exhibition is the first nugget of what is transformed into industrial products”, explained the designer at the opening of the show.
“They will become the African cars of the future; they have the DNA of the future African product. These images are priceless. These are the images that our children will refer to as the intelligence that made Nigeria the industrial giant that we will be. We have seen market image, durbar and several others. Now we want to see the future picture of Nigeria. If we don’t have a picture of where we are going in our heads, we will never get there. We need a map of Nigeria’s future. These are incredible African vehicles that can usher in our automotive and industrial age.
There is a dynamism in the exhibited works because they already seem to be in motion. ‘Wild Imagination’, ‘Signature Electrica’, ‘Trika II’, ‘Kinetic Energy’, ‘Circa’, ‘Regional Character’, ‘Green Revolution’ and ‘Colourway on the Highway’, among others, show the dynamism and skills of the artist.
Fortunately, Akintunde is not just about talk. A real prototype of one of his vehicles called “African Utility Vehicle” is at the entrance of the gallery.
Shaped like a shield and spear, the AUV is inspired by an African warrior. It depends on the wind for its stability and has no dashboard. A detachable tablet powers the vehicle, with the steering being the only visible part at the front.
Besides the exotic drawings, another peculiarity of some works is Akintunde’s penchant for scribbling the exact spot where he sketched them on the drawing.
“I can’t just wait in a queue and sit idle. I will start drawing. When I went to the Alagbon immigration office to renew my passport, I started drawing with my favorite ballpoint pen. It was the same when I went to take my COVID vaccine. I did about seven drawings and people came to see what I was doing. I’m still with my drawing materials,” he offered by way of explanation.
As critic Joseph Omoh Ndukwu rightly noted in the exhibition catalog, the artist is an altruist. His vision is not solely for the betterment of himself or his family. “Gestures are an invitation to imagine and build together, with progress as a driving vision. “Autovista” is a gift given in the present and held in trust for the future. »