Artist, Suraj Adekola at home with his black identity
It is a truism that visual art can stimulate thoughts and reasons, ideas, emotions, and feelings. All these and much more come into play when one sets eyes on the latest works of a fast-rising Nigerian artist, Suraj Adekola titled ‘We Should All Be Blacks’.
A very talented artist with eyes set on the big league, Adekola, who has just completed his master’s degree in Contemporary Fine Arts from the University of Salford, United Kingdom, is one artist who is at home with his root as an African and does not shy from conveying his message of pan-Africanism and wholesomeness of the Black man.
While holding on to his African identity in a highly westernised world, Adekola in his latest works conveys a feeling of strength and patriotism. He holds that there are so many possibilities, and lots of astonishing stories to tell of the incredible prowess of the Black man and that the latter must never be afraid to showcase these pluses and be counted for who he is and what he believes in.
Using his works to express his belief in the prowess of Africans in the diaspora, he is convinced that being black in a white-dominated environment should not necessarily be an excuse to deny one’s heritage, culture, and tradition. On the contrary, it should be an opportunity to stand up and be counted as a true and proud African who has so much to contribute to the advancement of humanity.
These are reflected in his work, ‘We Should All Be Blacks’, wherein he utilises African indigenous fabric to convey a message of hope for humanity.
In trying to depict the beauty of the black man, Adekola utilises contemporary forms of art such as painting, installation, and drawing as a visual response to display his creative identity in a foreign setting, foster cultural diversity, economic growth, and a sense of unity in a western environment.
This artwork’s unique exhibition not only questions how people perceive and see art, but also how they are portrayed. For instance, in the work under review, the artist uses stitches of multi-colored indigo tie/dye fabrics (Adire) to create a multiplicity of humanity in the abstract.
Knowing that blacks excel well in sports on global platforms, the artist uses football jerseys sewn into the Adire fabrics to convey the feelings of strength and accomplishments associated with most successful black sportsmen across the world. It also suggests the aspiration of Black children to excel in the sporting arena like their forbearers.
A major source of beauty for Adekola’s work is the use of the Adire fabric as the centerpiece of his delivery, which he also uses as the background. This unusual experiment portrays him as one who is proud of his identity as a Nigerian of Egba heritage and one who is willing to showcase his ancestry to the global community through his works.
That aside, a closer examination of his works, depicts the artist as one who is poised to sell Africa to the global community, while also helping to educate Africans on the need to appreciate their cultural heritage.
In a world laden with racism and all manner of discrimination, the artist is cautiously sending a message of hope to all that we are all one, though unique in our diversity. He also tends to remind the Blackman never to feel inferior as they are equally endowed to hold their own in all facets of life, be it in sports, the military or leadership.
With the meaning embedded in his work, there is no doubt that Suraj Adekola is one young and daring artist who is gradually positioning himself as a voice that cannot be ignored easily among the black artists currently plying their trade in the diaspora.
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