Arts & Design

Memories Crystallised in Morakinyo’s Masterpieces 

By Yinka Olatunbosun

Stamps. Before the world was connected by internet technology, there were postage stamps. They were often pasted on envelopes and other packages, indicating that payment had been made for the service of transporting a letter or a parcel. A glimpse of a few pieces of Morakinyo Femi’s colourful portraits evokes history and memories. His works have always unearthed ingenuity in thinking and use of technique. The stamps embedded in Morakinyo’s craftsmanship are more than just transactional pieces but an embodiment of cultural value.


The father of the Akure-born artist was a banker and stamp collector. As a child, the artist would play around with these stamp collections. Those childhood memories would later claw their way into his body of works that resonate with cultural memories and everyday people.


Working essentially with oil, acrylic as well as charcoal on canvas, Morakinyo’s subjects are relatable and at the same time, nostalgic. Using warm colours to project the spirit of the period captured in the works, the artist takes on a dual role of a documentarian and a visual storyteller.


Leveraging the power of graphics in his painting, Morakinyo reimagines childhood adventure in the work titled “Child’s play.” His subject – a young girl- holds a kite which symbolises freedom or a care-free spirit. 


In the piece “Evening Date,” Morakinyo interrogates the idea of dating and what it looked like in the 80s using a fashionable couple. From the vintage car to the civility that preceded intimacy, Morakinyo’s painting is like a time machine, freezing the moment for retrospective thoughts on themes of romance, gender roles and sexuality.

Evening Date

Creating a piece like “Evening Date” is a conversation-stirring move on the part of the artist. Arguably, shifting perspectives on sexuality has made concepts like long distance and polyamorous relationships popular among many young people. With this painting, Morakinyo revisits the traditional framework for romantic relationships where real bonds and values are nurtured as against today’s widespread sexting or the hide-and-seek love affair widely known as “hook up.”


Using visual motifs such as stick-ons and images of popular beverage brands of the 80s in some of his works, the artist finds a nexus between the past and future. 


The cultural context for Morakinyo’s subjects is widened in the piece “The Pianist.” In it, a lady- slightly aged- rests on a piano, projecting the image of a diva and her best companion- music. Making a visual statement on lasting beauty, ageism and gratification, “The Pianist” seems to be the artist’s not-so-subtle way of addressing ageism. Due to the negative attitude of many towards ageing women, some of them have developed shrunken confidence, worrying so much about personal appearance. But the diva illustrated in Morakinyo’s “The Pianist” struts her stuff, holding on to a folding hand fan that is perhaps as decorated as her music career. The image of the ‘pianist’ also speaks of class and pedigree. In many affluent homes, the sight of a grand piano is common.


The Pianist

Indeed, Morakinyo’s works are generally focused on people in relation to their social reality and period. Call them temporal artworks, the ubiquitous nature of the stamps on these paintings attests to time and period in which each piece is set. By reinventing articles of history in his paintings, the artist helps to deepen appreciation for modern technology and the impact made on improving lives whether through communication or relationship. 



Yinka Olatunbosun is an arts and culture journalist. 

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