Artist Statement

Shower of blessings
Suraj Adekola
My work is informed by post-colonial narratives which examines the tension and relationship between identity, diversity, inclusion and belonging in migration. Thus, I utilize drawing, painting, and installation as visual forms of communication to engage in the contemporary discourse concerning migration, black race, colour identity, cultural heritage and globalisation, using the lens of theorists such as Stuart Hall, Frantz Fanon, and Nanjala Nyabola and many others. My interest is in the beauty of fragility and diversity, unity after chaos, that are consumed into the Adire fabric, I appropriated the material to serve as an alternative to conventional canvas. The fabric becomes canvas through which I express my idea, it enables me to express my feelings in a unique style because no two pieces are the same. With my deep concern with sustainability of identity in a new environment like the United Kingdom, I employ the fabric as a metaphor to accentuate my cultural identity and a symbol of Pan-Africanism. Adire is an indigenous and popular indigo-tie-dyed fabric - decorated with a resist-dying technique to create striking patterns - made in my hometown Egbaland, Abeokuta, a capital of Adire making in Nigeria.

In preparing the fabric for use, I disassembled and reassembled the cotton material in order to create a new relationships in a variety of patterns for great visual effect, similar to how the Cubists cut and sewed images together. The cut and rearrangement of the fabric patterns convey a dislocation and diversity; the stitches of the fabrics convey inclusion and belonging. I enjoy expressing my feelings and emotions in abstract to project harmonious forms, colours, lines, tones, and textures. I conceptualize my work to achieve the problematic equilibrium forms of being both painting and installation.

Being an African, the rich repertoire of traditional material stimulated my interest in using it as a visual language after I moved to the United Kingdom for my postgraduate study. The interest started as a notion to sustain my cultural identity in Western environment. After which I started out by bringing the fabrics from Nigeria to the United Kingdom, the transportation of the material could be reference to globalisation. Then the fabric became part of ways to define and entrench my identity as an African. It is interesting how material can connect us to the idea of home, or to another landscape in which it can transport and reinforce our sense of identity and belonging.

My practice is in constant metamorphosis. I am constantly in search of new ways of visualizing and representing my ideas; these allows me the freedom to explore new avenues of visual inquiry and move my work forward into hitherto unexplored areas. It comes to me as questions, it is a proposal from known to the unknown. Art is life. For me, it is the very air I breathe and express myself - my feelings and emotions.