By EDEWOR NELSON
Nigerian artist, Kunle Adeyemi was last month in faraway Sweden, where he exhibited body of his paintings , which explore different fabrics of the Nigerian experience. In this remark, Edewor Nelson traces the artistic milage that the unassuming visual ambassador has recorded in the course of his artistic journey.
Following Kunle Adeyemi’s practice since 1998 when I knew him, the onus of dynamism in his forms, content and context have been progressive. Typologically his formal genre of painting which initially had the “Yaba School” influence has progressively amassed new tendencies that seek tendencies that may not altogether be confined to his alma mater. It is possible that it is his stint for exploration of new possibilities of picture making that led him into seeking creative maneuvers within the printmaking genre. Yet the unending possibilities of printmaking has not been able to drown Adeyemi’s creative search. Recently his attention has been geared towards a simulation of both easel painting and Printmaking genres for expression. A hybridized form is already being born through this process. Somebody once referred to Adeyemi as a “creative hustler”. Could it be that Adeyemi’s entire search in the thicket of creative possibilities is to get to what he is doing now? Or could all these, be exigencies for academic laurels of an obtained M.F.A and a soon to obtain Ph.D? Only time will tell.
The content of Adeyemi’s works like his forms is quite dynamic. The contents are the emprises of social, cultural, environmental statements. While seeking to make his impact, he has sought to interpret the world through the rich Yoruba cultural lens. While seeking this position because of his ancestry, it is expedient to state that the result of his social crusade which reality exudes from the relationship that could exist between canvas and society have been quite successful. The success, one feels should not be limited to sales but to the level of followership that has been won within the period. I think Adeyemi is doing well in that regard within and outside Nigerian shores. His portfolio of exhibitions within and outside Nigeria is a testimony to this.
Commenting on the contextual issues that have helped to direct Adeyemi’s practice, one can boldly mention the innate creative audacity of a drive to step into the big shoes of the masters. I have mentioned elsewhere that the psychoanalysis is a veritable instrument for determining an artist development. The political climate of Nigeria is another contextual aspect. His studies of Yoruba kingship is geared towards the Nigerian polity. One can also mention his present appointment as a lecturer as a driving force. While lecturing appointment has drowned many art practitioners, for Adeyemi, it is a propelling force to dig deeper. I think that is a good virtue.
This Sweden exhibition coinciding with Nigerian golden jubilee, also noting that the artist is barely 51. One believes that this attempt presents another statement of the never dying spirit of this dogged hustler artist. The success of this show will definitely rub-off on our national consciousness.