Oyekan, Lawson

First name: 
Year of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Great Brittain
Working period: 

Lawson Dokun Oyekan is born in England in 1961 and grew up in Ibadan (Nigeria). He is the son of a Nigerian high court Judge. Beginning his studies in Nigeria with applied Chemistry and later studied a diploma in general art at The Ibadan Polytechnic, Ibadan. Lawson then returned to England in 1983 to pursue art. First studying at Central School of Art and Design in 1985 on a degree course, he then went on to study at the Royal College of Art in London from 1988-1990 where he was lectured by the likes of Eduardo Paolozzi. During his studies he received the Darwin Scholarship Award in 1989, and is most notable for receiving the Grand Prix Award in the 2001 Korean Biennale for his piece “Healing Being,” from his Coming up for Air series. As a contemporary sculptor currently making work, he shows and exhibits work all over the world in Europe, Korea, Japan, and the United States.

One of Oyekan's best-known works is the “Healing Being” piece from his Coming Up for Air series. This piece is a monolithic, terracotta sculpture, closed, measuring 6 feet and 7 inches in height. Lawson’s work is characterized by surfaces often left dry and unglazed, while other works include a variety of colored slip. A recent exhibition in Minnesota in 2006, Solstice Lip Series, includes a combination of thick ceramic vessels including a variety of perforations and earthenware monoliths. The passage of light as well as the ability for the pieces to “breath” is a concern in portraying a life in his work through these vessels.

The development of Lawson’s work comes from his training in England in porcelain wheel throwing to the development of his own techniques through hand building, providing his experiences that come from these two locations and lifestyles. Currently Lawson is living in London, England while also working in a studio in Denmark. He also has plans to open a studio in Nigeria in combination with an education facility.

Pictures: Portrait Lawson Oyekan (source 19 Paul Fort); Lawson Oyekan in his workshop (source Wikipedia); Lawson with Selma Etareri in Graz (2012); container (source centralcalclay.com); 4 large objects (source aprilnoble.net); 5 objects (source unknown)..

Work of the artist: 

Oyekan created diaphragm-like artworks with a lifted center. He then moved on to making hand built larger, monolithic forms. Both of these constructions include his experiences as a Londoner, as well as an African. His pieces are adorned with piercings and sometimes include text in English or his native language, Yoruba. There is a presence in Oyekan’s forms that speak of his experiences and his upbringing. “My intent is to express human endurance and deliver a message of reassurance: that human suffering can be healed.”