Thursday 17 May 2012

Waste to art… Oshinowo interrogates fabrics in Silhouette

 By Tajudeen Sowole
  WITH the strong impact Kolade Oshinowo’s strokes have made on the Nigerian contemporary art in the last three decades, the new texture of his art, unveiled last week, did not come as a surprise.

  The artist’s new technique, which involves painting on wastes of fabrics, largely formed the core of his solo art exhibition, Silhouette, currently showing at Nike Art Gallery, Lekki, Lagos. It runs till May 25.

 Still a canvas populated with women – an identity that seems to have stuck with Oshinowo – the new technique of painting on fabrics, indeed, adds more excitement to his work.

  For example, works such as Discussion, First Lady, Aso-Ebi, At the Party and My Faith reflect what could be described as natural collage-like effect.

 Oshinowo tagged the technique as ‘recover and reuse (R&R)’, while explaining that it’s about “material exploration and exploitation of fabrics waste collected from tailors, fashion designers and other individuals.”

  For Oshinowo, it’s “quite an interesting recycling process of waste to art.” Painting on fabrics, is not entirely new

to Oshinowo’s canvas as he reminded that he had used the material in the past, “but only as a relief base on canvas or board to enhance the tactile value of the work.”
First lady, from Oshinowo’s new technique of painting on fabrics

  Painting on fabric, though may not be really new, but recently more artists are embracing the technique.

  And when he argued that his work “represents the art of creating order from disorder,” one of the works, Discussion epitomizes such expression. In the work, quite a number of pieces, from different waste of fabrics are matted to give a new, yet orderly creative life in the two-lady portraiture. De-emphasising the figural content of the model, Oshinowo projects the pattern of the fabrics in what looks like one textile ensemble.

  He recalled that while collecting the wastes, his tailor could not “comprehend what on earth I want do with the collected thrash!” 

  According to Oshinowo, the origin of some of the works on display could be dated back to 2009. He stated that they were from “several interesting images left behind by masons who worked on the concrete floor of my compound in 1992.” Such works include Igi Nla, Divine Visitation and At The Party.

   Between his past experience and the current form of his art, within the painting on  fabric context, he noted that currently, his exploration showed that “the fabrics play a more prominent role by not only being made to create relief and texture, but also contributing colour and enhancing the decorative elements in the paintings.” 

   He explained that the fabrics, sometimes, determines the theme and composite of the work. “The colour of the painting is often determined by the dominant hue of the fabrics.”

   More fascinating in Oshinowo’s painting on fabric style is his extension of the material as accessories such as earrings, necklace and brooches as seen Discussion, and First Lady.

My Faith, one of Kolade Oshinowo’s painting on fabrics
  From his solo show, Land of Promise, held in 2004 to the last one Art for Life, 2006 at the Mydrim Gallery, Ikoyi, Lagos and now Silhouette, Oshinowo appeared to have added more excitement to the texture of his canvas to diffuse what could have been a monotonous and repetitive theme, particularly in his emphasis on the female figure. 

  Subconsciously, the artist has also made some fashion statement, so suggets fillers from some his admirers. He enthused that “the paintings also reflect a fashion sense in the way the garment hangs on the body. Although not my original intention, I am told some of the paintings are actually making some fashion statements.”

  Also, the artist’s emphasis on draughtsmanship, irrespective of theme, is stressed, in fact, the influence of the fabric is not strong enough to hide his relentless strokes that tend to propagate drawing skill.

     This perhaps, leads to the title of the show, Silhouette, which, technically, could be difficult to render without a good skill in drawing. And for Oshinowo who flaunts his draughtsmanship, particularly in thick outlining of his subjects, Silhouette comes so naturally, blending with each style and technique brought onto the canvas.    Oshinowo noted that “most of the figures and objects in the paintings appear dark against a light background with dramatic effect. This silhouette approach to painting is a style I have incorporated into my work over the years.”
Another painting on fabric series, Discussion, by Kolade Oshinowo
   On his new progression in painting on fabric, he explained the process: “After collection, the fabrics are first sorted out into colour schemes before the desired scheme is selected. The fabrics if need be are reduced to smaller pieces. And in order to have an exciting surface, I try to ensure that pieces from the same fabric are not glued side by side. Where the pattern of a particular fabric is too bold and too brightly coloured, acrylic paint is used to harmonize the pattern and subdue the colours. When the fabrics have been glued down to the canvas and allowed to dry, a thin coat of glue is applied again to the entire surface for protection and to ensure there are no loose threads. This is left for about a day or two to cure before commencement of the painting.”

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