An invented escape: Adeolu Osibodu’s surrealist photography

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For Osibodu, surrealism isn’t just a form of play. It’s about the concept, the process, and the perseverance in making the impossible seem possible

Adeolu Osibodu was born and raised in Africa’s largest city, Lagos. Growing up, he watched the city beam with lights and people. Lagos is known for its booming creative sphere, but it suffers from overpopulation and poverty, and what Osibodu disliked most was how compacted it was. When he was 10, his family relocated to a Christian camp in Ondo State, around a four hour drive outside of Lagos. The camp was nothing like Lagos. There were huge open fields, and clusters of trees – a soothing surrounding that didn’t just become his home, but a major inspiration to his work as a photographer. Looking back, this backdrop was the root of the surrealistic concepts of his image-making today.

Now, at the age of 25, Osibodu is exhibiting his work at ArtCo gallery in Berlin. Within the past six years, Osibodu has become known for his unique style of photography, imbued with surrealist elements. “I wanted to create a new world with photography,” he says. “I just had the urge to express myself and channel my thoughts into the craft… I just wanted to have a sense of impact with minimalistic concepts.” In post-production, Osibodu renders surrealist portraits that are dreamy, monochromatic and cinematic.

Titled Feels Like Home Again, the exhibition introduces images from Osibodu’s recent series, Losing Amos and Saggios. “The series in this exhibition ties different moments of my life together, it’s a sort of biopic that visualises my phase as a photographer and my journey from the beginning which is Losing Amos to who I am now,” he says.

Almost all of Osibodu’s images are inspired by his personal life, which he records in a journal. Many of the scenes he depicts are uprooted from these daily occurrences, and the models are his close friends.  “Spending more time on the idea gives me the intuition of the shape I want the work to take,” he says. “As a photographer, I think I spend more time with my ideas rather than my camera because I have thought about it, dreamt about and discussed it.” Surrealism to Osibodu isn’t just a form of play. It’s about the concept, the process, and the perseverance in making the impossible seem possible. 

Ugonna-Ora Owoh

Ugonna-Ora Owoh is a journalist living in Nigeria who writes on multi-sectoral topics. He has written for publications like Vogue US, Vice, The Independent, OpenDemocracy, Artsy, OkayAfrica, Vogue Business and others. You can follow and find his works @ugonnaoraowoh on both Twitter and Instagram