By Tajudeen Sowole
With a status of ‘Nigeria’s first Ph.D artist in studio practice,’ painter and printmaker, Kunle Adeyemi has led the way to diffuse perceived dichotomy between art in the academia and full time studio discipline. However, his techniques face potency tests and other values in the mainstream studio practice.
While celebrating this academic feat, Adeyemi also will open what could be recorded as a historic art exhibition, Paintograph and Paintocast: A New Consciousness tomorrow at Quintessence Gallery, Falomo, Lagos, to end November 30, 2012.
Supported with a thesis-like ‘Artist Statement’, some of the works presented during a preview showed how Adeyemi hopes to use the result of his academic research to create a new discipline or technique. It could perhaps lead to a kind of followership within and outside the academic community.
A few months ago, Adeyemi was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy, Practice-led in Studio Arts by Delta State University (DELSU) Abraka.
When the artist, who is currently a lecturer at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, takes his visitors round the exhibits tomorrow, the works would expectedly do much of the visual dialogue; his voluminous statement in the catalogue would hardly come into immediate reckoning. And that the show of such a historic perspective is being brought outside the Ivory Tower is a testimony to the artist’s academic feats and claims as studio practice.
However, whatever value is buried in Adeyemi’s ‘new consciousness’ seems timeless and more prospective, as suggested by the art teacher’s solace in the dynamics of the future. The techniques, which he hopes would add to the art lexicon of Africa is all about investing intellectual content into the future pool of knowledge.
Treasures of Niger Delta, from Dr Kunle Adeyemi’s Paintograph and Paintocast.
In works such as a stylised figural of mixed media, Females Form; caryatid kind in House Posts Series; depiction of environmental degradation, The Road to Oil Rig; natural resources of the volatile oil producing communities Treasures of Niger Delta; native motifs representing spiritual well being Wheels of Fortunes, Adeyemi, indeed, stresses the intellectual and academic values of his four years’ research that led to his doctoral status. And given the relentless of artists in general in producing works that challenge barriers across the genres and media, Adeyemi’s techniques may not be exactly new. However, being definite or specific with the coined Paintograph and Paintocast, perhaps makes the difference.
And as much as some artists are aggressively collapsing the barriers between the genres with all sorts of mixed media renditions, blurring the lines between art and craft is still a distance to reach. In fact, observers have noted the cautious attitude of a section of mainstream artists in maintaining the distance between art and craft.
With such a ‘genuine vigilance’ of mainstream art market, it remains an uphill task to fuse the two. For Adeyemi, “there should be no barriers,” and it’s just a matter of time before “the gap will be closed.”
Part of his artist statement says, “the general mission of this research is to provide a direction capable of stimulating change and drive, as catalyst for budding visual artists.”
Adeyemi also envisions the possibilities in using local content for art making, arguing that such “resolves the problems associated with streamlined approaches” pinned to just painting on easel “as well as procuring costly oil, acrylic, water colour, modeling paste, powder colour pigments, charcoal, chalk and oil pastels which are foreign imported traditional painting materials.”
Last year and at the same venue, Adeyemi exhibited with the first set of artists to complete the doctoral programme in Fine and Applied Arts. Titled Visual Symphony, it was explained that the show “is in sync with the studio practice focus of the art doctoral programme of Department of Fine and Applied Arts, DELSU”.
In the forward to Adeyemi’s Paintograph and Paintocast: A New Consciousness, Prof. Osa Egonwa of Art and Art History,
DELSU notes that the show “in this final Ph.D thesis exhibition opens up collaborative possibilities” among visual arts, science and technological disciplines despite the established barriers. He adds: “Paintograph and Paintocast are a procedural transliteration of techniques of one art genre into another. In terms of ideas, material exploration and technical exploration, the research is worth its while. It is hoped that the candidate will not rest on his oasis with the conferment of the degree but move to scholastic, higher grounds”.