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Artist tells Nigeria's story through sculptures made from scrap metal


Dotun Poopola is working on his latest sculpture in Ile-Ife, a town in south-western Nigeria’s Osun State.

The artist is fusing pieces from a broken generator, recycled kitchen utensils and collected scrap metal to create a metal fish.

The 35-year-old sculptor likes to work primarily with scrap metal and says creating animal forms is his favourite way to use the medium.

Dotun often uses colour to give his pieces a vibrant finish. His detailed sculptures – known for capturing movement and expression – often convey different messages.

He has studied various aspect of art at university level and is among a generation of contemporary African artists who are gaining global recognition for their work.

Dotun, who also paints murals, mostly works on commissioned projects, which are often installations for clients.

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.

“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.

Dotun began creating his avant-garde mixed media pieces in 2016.

Dotun’s work has gone on show in various exhibitions at home and abroad. Last year he exhibited at ART X, West Africa’s biggest International Art fair, which was held in Lagos.

“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.

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.

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