Ebenezer Akinola works broadly in two representational modes; a calm academic style and a radically divergent more expressive one. Portraits and figure studies form a special part of his oeuvre. In the former mode, he skillfully achieves a balance of realistic and abstract passages in his paintings, adding further depth with a combination of broad sweeping strokes in the
background and smaller, finer details to highlight areas of interest. He explains his underlying philosophy, the role of recurrent themes like travel and migration in his work, “The empty background is for two reasons; one is technical. Sometimes it’s better to focus on the essence, the positive space; it gives better visual impact. The second and more importantly, the background
shows the ‘unknowingness,’ of the so called journey and throws up several questions like; where are they going? Migration is constant. Man cannot remain, he must move.” Akinola’s ideas around shifting identities, the politics of representation and cultural multiplicities play out in the background or space, as well as through the men, women and children that populate his
canvases. Here, the real and the virtual intermingle, a metaphor for the breakdown of physical spaces and temporalities. In alluding to Akinola’s assertions, our experience of these spaces that are of no fixed geographic location, is dependent on the mobility and an ability to view multiple perspectives simultaneously. Ebenezer Akinola’s latter convention is characterized by a
deliberate exaggeration of limbs and torsos of his figures to achieve rhythm and fluidity. It is also hinged largely on the artist’s affinity with rich and varied surface textures and bold line to accentuate form, as we as create mood and feeling. In these canvases, Akinola’s highly individual expression comes to the fore, sacrificing finished form and detail for breath of execution and increased emotion.