It has been noticed from time immemorial that whenever creativity meets art, the outcome is always mindblowing artworks, especially the like of the ones made by Dotun Popoola, a 39-year-old Nigerian sculptor who tells Nigerian stories with sculptures made from scrap metal.
“People are now picking up Nigerian art and appreciating the history, content, the technicality in the work and the philosophies in Nigerian art, so I feel the response has really changed drastically,” the artist said.
Dotun Popoola, who began creating his avant-garde mixed media pieces in 2016, was born in 1981 in Lagos, is a Nigerian Contemporary Artist (Sculptor) who specialises in synergetic metal sculpturing. He creates pieces of artwork from scrap metals.
The talented artist, Dotun Popoola studied painting and general arts in Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo State where he holds a national diploma in painting and general art in 2004.
Dotun went further to Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, where he obtained his first degree in fine and applied arts with a specialisation in sculpture and graduated as the best overall student. He also got his second degree in the same university with a specialisation in painting.
The creative artist makes sculpture, such as metal fish, dogs, horses and many other life-size animals which he fuses pieces from a broken generator, recycled kitchen utensils and collected scrap metal to create.
Dotun likes to work primarily with scrap metal and says creating animal forms is his favourite way to use the medium.
”Most of my sculptures have inspirations and philosophies that guide them and often a time when I am done with a sculpture. I try to create a philosophy around it that would tell a social story or a folktale”
Dotun is a resident artist in Lopez Studio in Lemmon, South Dakota, and travels between United States and Nigeria to paint commissioned murals. He was a curator at the National Gallery of Art.
Exhibitions, works, and contributions
Popoola works primarily with scrap metal, where creating animal forms is his favourite way to use the medium. Some of his works were exhibited in ART X Lagos. He had a solo exhibition called “Irin Ajo” (Journey) in Signature Beyond Art Gallery, Lagos, where he presented around 24 metal works of his.
Also training as a welder and sculptor, Popoola is primarily a sculptor but infuses painting to illustrate the beauty in junk, hoping to inspire other artists to reimagine and reinvent how they view artistic media.
Dotun often uses colour to give his pieces a vibrant finish. His detailed sculptures – known for capturing movement and expression – often convey different messages.
Dotun, who is among a generation of contemporary African artists who are gaining global recognition for their work, also paints murals, mostly works on commissioned projects, which are often installations for clients.
He also sources material from sellers of scrap metal and mechanic workshops — namely his dad’s, to whom Irin Ajo is dedicated. One of his prominent pieces, a 5.7 ft boerboel dog sculpture made from used vehicle parts, titled ‘Irin Ola’ or ‘Iron Wealth’ in the Yoruba language, is on display in the lobby of a prominent hotel in Lagos.
When he’s not travelling or scouring junk yards, Dotun mentors aspiring artists. He says he wants to help encourage creativity and get youth to explore new ways to express themselves.
“Most of my sculptures have inspirations and philosophies that guides them and often time when I am done with a sculpture. I try to create a philosophy around it that would tell a social story or a folktale,” he said.