Ibiyinka Alao

Myself As An Individual

Ca. 1996
8" x 5"
Tempera

The first thing you should know about me is that I have been spoken for many times. People who are willing to tell my stories, as if I don't know how to say them myself, have represented me. So often, my words have been neglected, redefined and conveyed differently from what I painted them to be. I know the feeling of being used and abandoned afterwards. I know how the oceans feel when the river is taken away from them and dammed in a lake only to dry up, wasted away in stagnant waters.

I have the knowledge, too, that I can change the course of things and not lead the river into stagnant hands, but I didn't always have the choice (you know, making money, trying to survive, chasing the wind, who follows me?). For a very long time (and it doesn't matter how long that time was), I knew my paintings merely as objects to be liked or disliked, bought or un-bought based upon the taste of mortal men. But now I know better, for I see that art is a spiritual experience, and Grace gives us the strength we need in our weaknesses.

Darling, I am a colorful visionary, a painter of pictures with a hole in my heart. In that hole is an emptiness, which tells me that since the beginning of time, men have done cruel things to other men to their hurt, in order to take away their stories. If there is anything as cruel as the taking of a man's life, it is the taking away of his story, the very substance that makes him immortal. I am an artist with a hole in my heart that is equal in size to the Universe without me. Every time I paint a picture, I fill this hole with beauty.

In this painting, I have symbolized this hole with the darkness of my left eye and the emptiness in my mouth. My right eye is upside down to show the desire to have a balanced point of view. In my head is always that bright light which leads me wherever I go. To react against my own indifference to the World situation is my problem, what is your own problem?

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