Almost Delirium, one of Aàdesokan’s first waves of expression.
If there are forceful and mind-boggling traces of a creative brilliance in Nigerian contemporary arts, they are most certainly embedded in the works of Aàdesokan, an upcoming artist. You cannot help, but be filled with a sense of wonder as he/she encounters the rhythmic lines, the brush strokes and the deeper philosophic expressions in his paintings and drawings.
Both the young and the old are witnessing and cherishing these feelings at the current art show themed, Aàdesokan: Almost Delirium, powered by 16/16 (pronounced 16 by 16). The powerful combination of Aàdesokan’s artistic creativity and the cosy ambience of 16/16 leave a lot for the human mind to imagine. Without doubt, it is obvious that the goal of the gallery is to foster up and coming artists in Lagos and provide a platform for artistic exchange between Lagos and other parts of the world.
The exhibition, which is the fifth mounted by 16/16, ran till September 24, 2017, is also billed to remain daily on view at the hours of 2pm – 7pm. From a close observation it is obvious that times have changed: the artworks in the “Aàdesokan” series, surprisingly enjoyed the attention of the youth and the young adults who hitherto never had much to do with paintings not to talk of abstract images. The artworks are ushering in a new era in visual art appreciation in Nigeria.
This solo exhibition curated by Mr. Tushar Hathiramani, the opening of which witnessed a coterie of youths and young adults, is Aàdesokan’s first attempt at exploring delirium, an ecstatic state of mind that he embodied for a particular period of time in the recent past. Each artwork represents a constant unravelling of his mind and Aàdesokan reaches a point where he has affirmed that the only thing he is sure of is that he is unaware of the self that he embodies in the long term. He calls it the cycle of occurrence – what I term “a cycle of life” in which the only thing that is constant is a mysterious uncertainty.
To understand Aàdesokan’s works, there is need for a participatory interpretation of the inspiration and the circumstances behind his urge for creativity.
When you encounter his works, the genderless and ageless faces defy physiognomic accuracy. All this makes his way of conveying the emotion of trauma that he experienced as typified in ‘Self-Portrait: Almost Delirium’ (2017 Acrylic, charcoal, and fine sand on paper 18 in” x 21 in) exceptional. There is indeed something unique in his works – a synergy of materials – nylon, petroleum jelly, acrylic and charcoal, and 10 of the works are sketches rendered in ink.
Aàdesokan’s portraits are mostly centred on face perception. Why face perception? His aesthetic focus on face perception transforms obscure and vague sensations into clear and vivid images. In short, Aàdesokan seems to believe that the secrets of beauty, like the secrets of nature, could be revealed by systematic empirical investigation and put to good use in face perception. Psychology has shown that the face is the place one looks when trying to sense emotion in another human being and generate an appropriate emotion in return. Aàdesokan utilises this idea in his unique style of face perception.
In trying to connect with the face metaphor of his internal emotions, Aàdesokan projects the emotions onto his side profiles, giving them a warped, transcendental and sublime aura. His choice of the side profile stems from the face angle evading emotion as it lacks the definition that the frontal view of the face offers.
This transcendentalism creates the feeling of uncertainty- one of the central themes he touches upon in this body of works. This depicts the influence of Egon Schiele, who similarly used the imagery of warped bodies to represent his traumatized state of mind. Branches surrounding and emanating from the side profiles in the works represent a man’s need to connect through face perception and emotion, and also reflect the artist’s obsession with flora.
According to him, ‘War Child (War Child & Tyrant)’ (2017 Acrylic, water colour, charcoal, nylon, fine sand and petroleum jelly on 190 lb paper 15 in x 22 in) among others, is an artwork that has contextually engaged the cycle of occurrence – the continuous ebb and flow of life in which the only thing that is constant is knowing that what we can only ever know is that ‘we do not know.’
As a young artist who aims to explore his state of mind at a defined point in time, Aàdesokan expresses himself in 25 portraits, which include 6 large scale mixed-media paintings, 3 pairs of twin portraits (a total of 6 individual artworks), 3 self-portraits and a series of 10 small ink sketches. Each of the work “is a unique representation of a side profile, imagined by the artist with an underlying layer of trauma”. The side profile is his artistic representation of the theme. His first side profile was born on a chance trip to illustrate a book of poetry for his friend in Abeokuta. The painting, ‘Numb Tantrums’ captures a lot of the emotion that he felt at the time – agony and trauma. Having ended a powerful relationship, being barred from graduation and experiencing the vicissitudes of family life, he entered into a period of self-diagnosed depression which quickly translated to anxiety.
Aàdesokan, born in 1994, is an esoteric and abstract artist – esoteric because his artistic expressions delve into the complexities of the human mind and consciousness, using his own mind as the point of departure, abstract because his artworks defy attempts at existential classification.
Trained as a mechanical engineer, he has always had a deeply analytical and introspective mind. This perhaps is a consequence of having a psychologist as a father. His works show a highly reflective, imaginative and intuitive mind – products of his dialogue with the self.
In trying to find his place in the Nigerian visual art scene, you discover that he promises to make a solitary disturbing new voice – a positive one at that.
His propensity towards esotericism started from age 14, when he spent a lot of time looking at patterns of uncertainty in life – “the fact that there is no self that is encompassing of a person and there are only multiple selves that embody the self at a particular point in time. The self, therefore, continues to change in a never-ending cycle of uncertainty.”
Aàdesokan is evolving so also are his works. With time, his works would be clearly established for proper contextual analysis. But the abstract nature of his works calls for a hermeneutic approach if one really wants to harness the meaningfulness buried in his works. Applying the theoretical framework of hermeneutics to Aadesokan’s works is an attempt to interpret his works in order to “make sense of something that didn’t before make sense” and “seek understanding” (according to Alvin Goldman). Basically, it is an effort to describe, explain, decode, translate, clarify, and criticize. Richard Rorty will tell you that hermeneutics is useful if it is applied to an exciting notion that is hard and abstract. Aadesokan’s works tell a story – a relevant story. But we need to get into his mind to understand and utilize the story.