By Prisca Sam-Duru
Nigeria-born Manchester-based artist, Suraj Adekola, is one of the artists of African and Afro-descents whose works are on display at an ongoing exhibition titled “Black Beauty, Pride, and Excellence: A Tale of Reappropriation”, at the London Business School, United Kingdom.
Organized by the Black in Business Club in partnership with Pavillon54, a digital platform and community for modern and contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora. Pavillon54 is an online gallery that focuses on Black African art, to celebrate Black Beauty and Excellence.
The exhibition highlights the works of some gifted contemporary artists who are reclaiming the narrative and expressing their perspectives on what it means to be Black. The exhibition, which runs from the 16th of March to the 2nd of April, is showcasing several exquisite pieces from the exhibitors.
Adekola has adopted a distinct style and vision to promote Black beauty. His works which depict figures and face on a free-hanging traditional material are some of the exhibition’s centerpieces that celebrate Black culture, greatness, and beauty.
Suraj’s work centers on issues of black identity, migration, diversity, and inclusiveness. He uses a range of media such as painting, installation, and drawings. His works on display are powerful and evocative. For instance, one of his works titled ‘We Will Never Forget You’, contains an elaborate and bold use of traditional material – Adire (tie/dye) fabric, and striking imagery that challenge traditional notions of blackness and celebrate the beauty and strength of black people. This piece explores the forgotten gallantry of Black soldiers during World War 1 and 2. It depicts the enormous contributions of black soldiers, known as ‘soldiers in red jackets’- the “sable arm” to the British Empire across the Atlantic Ocean.
Another of Adekola’s works on display, “Because She is Black, He Fell Unconscious,” focuses on the beauty of Blacks and Pan-Africanism. The use of Adire fabric glued to the canvas and the blackness of the gestural-figurative drawing with black oil sticks is a metaphor depicting the beauty of Blacks.
In this series, Suraj’s interest is in bringing to light the various ways in which Black people dominate the social space. According to him, the inspiration behind this series comes from the phrase — “He fell unconscious” —from literature (Migration, Culture, and Identity: making a home away). A paragraph in the book described the story of a young man who falls unconscious each time he beheld the overwhelming beauty of his sweetheart. Suraj claims that such is the beauty absorbed by the black body.
Adekola’s bold vision and artistic skills as displayed at the exhibition are already garnering critical acclaim from art lovers and critics alike. Visitors to the exhibition can expect to be moved and inspired by the pieces on display, which offer a fresh and compelling perspective on black identity and culture.
Black Beauty, Pride and Excellence: A Tale of Reappropriation” is a must-see exhibition for anyone interested in contemporary art, black culture, and the power of artistic expression. Suraj’s work is a testament to the enduring strength and beauty of black people – a celebration of blackness in all its forms.
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