‘I have always been an artist with two very distinct facets to my perception; the “expressive” side, and the “practical” side. These inclinations manifest constantly in my work. My “practical” side brings to bear a deep concern for feasibility and details. My “expressive” side allows me to delve into and engage with the world around me, exploring the aspects of human nature that hold my interest.
My work often explores subjects related to gender, power, and mythology. I work mainly in mixed media, often through labour intensive processes; the visual complexity of which serves as a physical embodiment of the nuances of my works’ themes. A lot of my work is grounded in a fascination with lines. I find it intriguing how this basic component of complex forms can be so ambiguously loaded with meaning. A line can connect and separate, enclose and exclude, direct and misdirect, all at the same time. I view the technique I work with as a three-dimensional manifestation of lines, creating pockets of light and shadow. I believe in creating art that ultimately stimulates conversation and encourages thoughtful consideration, as both have the potential to influence and provoke one another. My work is committed to exploring that ageless relationship, with my personal experiences and observations serving as a conduit.’
– Ayobola Kekere-Ekun
The Cultural Dysmorphia series seeks to explore the construct of culture and how women navigate the patriarchal space that is Nigeria, through a series of female portraits. The term “Dysmorphia” is coined from a mental disorder called Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), which is characterised by an erroneous fixation on a perceived flaw of one’s own body. As a result, I coined the term “Cultural Dysmorphia” to address the disconnect between how the average Nigerian views his or her society and the how collective behaviours actually shape society’s reality.
The Cultural Dysmorphia portraits are veiled and blinded as a comment on the Nigerian society’s tendencies towards an “eyes wide shut” approach to social and cultural problems. The fabrics used to veil and hide the women’s features are used as a visual representation of an inclination towards “collective thought” symbolic of the use of aso-ebi in the Nigerian society. Aso-ebi refers to the practice of selecting a fabric that becomes a “uniform” worn by families and friends alike during celebrations such as weddings, birthdays and funerals.
The Power Series as the name implies explores the construct of privilege and power dynamics from three main perspectives; a contemporary perspective, a historical perspective, and a mythological perspective. The series seeks to interrogate how human beings deal with the presence and absence of power and the privileges it endows. It also aims to highlight the complexities of power dynamics when filtered through a range of socio-cultural realities such as gender, wealth, sex, colonialism etc. Pieces from this body of work explore a range of topics from the erasure and trivialisation of female goddesses in Yoruba mythology, to the marked absence of female participation in Nigerian politics and the variables that fuel these realities.