Adeyemi paints Nigeria’s history in Sweden
Last October in Sweden, Nigerian artist, Kunle Adeyemi staged his exhibition, Beauty in Freedom which coincided with Nigeria’s 50 Independence anniversary. The show having chronicled the country’s five decades of social, political and economic lives.
The exhibition was equally significant as it records all what the artist has gone through since he was born 51 years ago. Below is the artist’s statement during the show. Excerpts:
As an artist, I enjoy the beauty in my freedom of expression having learnt the language of visual arts, I can at least objectify and subjectify my imagination and thoughts. Each time I think of God’s endowment or investment in me for being counted worthy to speak a universal language of visual arts for which everybody on the surface of the earth understand, I feel elated and on top of the world. Images in my mind congeal together and form a tangible object through line, form, tone, texture, colour and composition.
I was rather too young as a child of 14 months old when my country, Nigeria became an independent nation on October 1, 1960. To be an independent nation means to be free from colonisation of any form, particularly human impostors. The credit for this goes to the collective efforts of our heroes, heroines, political juggernuts, professionals, students (home and abroad) other peace-loving independent nations etc. Nigerians of my contemporary read in history books how long and fierce the battle for political freedom was won. This effort, sacrifice and struggle of our forerunners gave way to self-rule and liberation from the British, unfortunately, the fruits of this struggle is still having its bitter taste 50 years after.
In the visual arts sector to which I belong, I count myself as fortunate and blessed having been properly schooled and still being trained by the best of visual art professionals Nigeria had ever had. The likes of Dele Jegede, Kolade Oshinowo, Moses Fowowe, Dan Ikhu Omovbude, S. I. Wangboje, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Yussuf Grillo and now Dr. Emeni, Prof Osa Egonwa, and others too numerous to mention. My development as a self conscious, liberated and totally free artist had been slow even outside the tutelage of these great art teachers but very progressive.
My creative art and thoughts in recent years witnessed freedom as my exhibitions begin to move from nation to nation. I realise that I need to explore the visual language to portray the ills of my society, give succour to the hungry, the deprived, the tortured, the downtrodden and at the same time be contemporaneous to document my time. I choose to comunicate through some thematic works called series.
I found out that I cannot express myself in a single sentence or in few words that will give full meaning or do justice to my theme. I therefore, look at such subjects from multiple angles because it is difficult and too limitless for me to translate the varied moods and connotations on a lone canvas, paper, or board.
These series can be found in my recent Female forms, democracy, traditional forms and motifs, wheel of fortune, success, dialogue, house posts, royalty, fragments of tradition, procession, ere ibeji, ancestral masks, to mention just a few. As we just celebrated the golden jubilee of our dear nation, we need to think afresh and ask ourselves questions on the subject of freedom.