Artist Àsìkò explores Yoruba culture through mythology

Written by Lamide Akintobi, CNNLagos, Nigeria

Appreciating cultural heritage and utilizing it to think about a greater future: that is one of many targets of self-taught photographer and visible artist Ade Okelarin.

Professionally, he goes by the identify of “Àsìkò” — the phrase for “time” or “the second” in Yoruba, one of many languages in his dwelling nation of Nigeria. Drawing on elements of conventional Yoruba tradition has been an vital side of his inventive journey. By way of two latest collection titled “Guardians” and “Of Delusion and Legend,” he explores the iconography of Yoruba deities, or “Òrìshàs.”

In Yoruba historical past, the Òrìshàs had been sacred beings with divine powers, and the idea in them continues past West Africa, having been transmitted by slaves and their descendants within the Caribbean and South America, amongst different locations. However rising up in Nigeria within the Nineteen Eighties and Nineties, the place mainstream schooling round indigenous beliefs was not frequent, Okelarin says his journey as an artist has been about deconstructing earlier information.

“The work is about exploration and understanding the issues I used to be not taught at school,” Okelarin stated, “and creating an area for me to know heritage and creating one thing with legacy.”

His portraits and pictures of Òrìshàs mix conventional images with synthetic intelligence (AI), digital enhancing strategies and collaging, and are Okelarin’s means of drawing connections between varied international mythologies, by means of which, he says, we’re all linked in our deep-rooted tales.

Whereas researching the initiatives, he observed similarities between parts of Yoruba and Western mythology, such because the Yoruba deity Sango and Norse god Thor, each of whom are deities of thunder and lightning, and the Òrìshà Olokun, who represents the ocean, like her Greek counterpart Poseidon.

In this work, Okelarin reimagines Olokun, the Yoruba goddess of the oceans, seas and wealth.

On this work, Okelarin reimagines Olokun, the Yoruba goddess of the oceans, seas and wealth. Credit score: Àsìkò

The premise of his work, he says, is “trying again to look ahead” to know the place Africans are from as a society and assist carve a future “formed not by Westernization, however a grounding of cultural ideology and aesthetics.”

Okelarin moved to the UK in 1995 and says his analysis into his personal tradition modified his body of reference from that of a Western gaze to at least one that celebrates a “lovely completely different viewpoint” and helped him perceive his heritage.

“On the earth of accelerating globalization, you will need to preserve a way of id that informs higher societal buildings,” Okelarin stated. “Westernization isn’t the reply to development, however we want a mix of who we’re and what the world gives or we’ll lose what makes us ‘us.'” Creating and sharing these photographs utilizing fashionable expertise and strategies is one solution to present that “our tales matter” he provides.

Elevating consciousness

Regardless of having had an affinity for artwork and images for so long as he can keep in mind — rising up in Nigeria surrounded by African artwork his father collected — Okelarin studied chemistry and labored within the pharmaceutical trade as a knowledge architect, due partly, he says, to “Nigerian dad and mom who did not need (him) to be a ravenous artist.” However a shift in mindset over time prompted him to focus full-time on images by 2015.

Elevating consciousness about socio-political points that have an effect on his group and society is one other of his roles as an artist, says Okelarin. He says his journey, tradition and experiences as a Yoruba man dwelling within the UK are the lifeblood of his work, which has coated subjects together with feminine genital mutilation, masculinity, mysticism, id, and race.

His mythological imagery, in addition to different initiatives, such because the 2020 collection “She is Adorned,” make the most of the idea of layering, with topics actually adorned in layers of African beads and jewellery. Okelarin additionally makes use of digital rendering, layering the images with elements of his cultural heritage, comparable to material and textures. This mixing of various processes — standard images with AI — has “opened robust imaginative prospects” for him.

"She is Embraced by the Sun."

“She is Embraced by the Solar.” Credit score: Àsìkò

A few of these new prospects embrace portray and sculptural work, he says. In 2022, he created a globe art work for the World Re-imagined undertaking, a British artwork historical past schooling undertaking across the transatlantic slave commerce by which over 100 globes had been positioned throughout the UK.

His work has exhibited within the UK, Nigeria and the US, and he not too long ago launched his first set of NFTs with the Bridge gallery, a tremendous artwork NFT images gallery.

With work that reaches into the previous, and which is ever evolving, Okelarin says he continues to open himself as much as the journey to permit for experimentation and progress.

“As I’ve grown older, I’ve discovered the tradition I come from has a magnificence and a resonance to it,” he stated. “Residing within the diaspora, now greater than ever, my cultural heritage is an enormous a part of my id and who I’m. It’s a energy.”

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Halo, Saya adalah penulis artikel dengan judul Artist Àsìkò explores Yoruba culture through mythology yang dipublish pada January 28, 2023 di website Enchantress Magazine

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