Thursday 29 June 2023

Kunle Adeyemi's 'Innovative Testament at Aesthetics' anchourage of artful grandeur'

'Japa' Syndrome I (Emigration), Paintocast, 26.5" X 42", dated 2022.

PRINTS and mixed media exhibition by Dr Kunle Adeyemi titled Innovative Testament opened on June 18, ending-July 2, 2023 at Tim & Carol Gallery of Art, 7A, Oba Dosumu Street, off Isaac John Street, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos.

Curator at Tim & Carol, Olawale Fasuyi noted that Innovative Testament represents one of the shining lights in contemporary Nigerian art movement. The curator explained that Dr Adeyemi's exhibition brings stories of cultural expressions, nature in all its glory, modern and traditional abstraction as well as the coexistence of life and livelihood. Olawale said in a gallery statement that "all intertwined with a diverse palette of vantage points which the viewers can connect to and engage with." 

Artist and Critic, Rasheed Amodu MFA, Mphil, FSNA, captures Adeyemi's Innovative Testament.



Like the eternal creative labyrinth in tune with the aesthetic rotational motion of the Earth that dictates night and day, depending on which side receives the Sunlight; thus, is Kunle Adeyemi's fluid flow of essential creativity. From life as an industrial commercial printer, to becoming a painter, then transmuting into a graphic artist and printmaker before anchoring his aesthetic essence at quasi-sculptural 'Paintograph' and 'Paintocast'; Adeyemi has now berthed at the bay of high relief sculptures and other accoutrements of artistic finesse. Adeyemi's Innovative Testament is an infinite creative adventurism that is ever-evolving and ever- unfolding with superb works of art emerging from his eclectic and energetic soul.

Kunle Adeyemi's aesthetic testament and innovations, whether old or new are a pure testament to the restless creative spirit within and without his quintessential artistic oeuvre. This essential Innovative Testament of Adeyemi as captured in his multifaceted artistic oeuvre must be discussed for the contemporaneous essence of Nigerian art, which will be one of the major lights into the future of the Nigerian art community and the global art reality.

Body to Oeuvre

Searching for Adeyemi's paintings is akin to locating a lion in the expanse of the ocean. The paintings exist but Adeyemi has since moved on to new creative frontiers and innovations, which is the reason for this affirmative aesthetic testament from his oeuvre. His body of work in the Innovative Testament will be founded on painting, sculpture and graphic arts with his quintessential prints in different forms and dynamics.

With over twenty solo exhibitions and close to a hundred group/joint shows, Kunle Adeyemi has come a long way as an established master artist in contemporary Nigerian art. His “Paintograph and Paintocast” which are his Ph.D. (Studio Led) creative discoveries are new terminologies and artistic works of art that are a unique blend of painting ideals, printmaking standard with low-relief sculpture-like finishing in most cases. Adeyemi (2020) explained that “paintograph and paintocast are researched synthesis of easel painting and printmaking. The first of the studio discovery is 'paintograph' before the later stage and final stage, which is 'paintocast.' 'Paintograph' is the early mixed-media stage and formal state of the work, while 'Paintocast' is the later part when the work has “moved deeper into printmaking technique or being further transformed into a quasi-sculptural/printmaking and painting work”. Hence, the creative adventure of Adeyemi started as a commercial/ind-ustrial printing pressman before becoming a painter with a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Painting from the Yaba College of Technology, Yaba - Lagos, (1984). He later became a graphic designer and printmaker with a Master of Fine Arts in Graphic/Printm-aking from the University of Benin, Benin City,(1998), which was concluded with a Ph.D. (Studio Led) from the Delta State University, Abraka, (2012), specializing in Graphic/Printm-aking from an advance perspective of 'Paintograph and Paintocast' are worthy of mention.

Adeyemi's professional and educational achievements revealed that he had traversed the major standard and recognized techniques/styles in printmaking, including woodcut, lino print, serigraphy, etching, deep etching, metal foil, and ivorex, among others, have been conquered and mastered by Adeyemi before berthing his Innovative Testament at an aesthetic anchorage of artfulness in 2023.

Most of the works that will be displayed in the Innovative Testament will be artworks that will further affirm Adeyemi's mastery and consistency as a mixed-media artist and printmaker with painterly bias and quasi-sculptural undertone and finishing. He has recently been producing some high-relief sculptural pieces of birds, leaves and trees as well as other themes that caught his fancy in the contemporary space. These relief sculptures with titles of “Dialogue with Nature I, II and III” as well as other series in these thematic dialogues, will be on display in the show. Some of his old Yoruba Agbada' dress and the 'Jakan' (embroidery) inspired 'Paintograph and Paintocast' works, which include “Jakan I, II and III”, “Agbada Nla I, II and III”, “Dem-O-Crazy for Whom?”, “The Persistence of a Winner I”, “Ecstasy of a Lead Drummer”, “Female Form III and IV”, “Drummer Ensemble II”, “Dialogue: Primary Instrument in Democracy I”, and “It's time to wind up (the Festival is over) II”, among others, will also be on display. As usual, there will be different types of prints on display, including serigraphs, linocut, etching and deep etchings, among others. One or more paintings might sneak into the show as exhibits.

One thing that is certain is that Innovative Testament is going to be a grand exhibition because Adeyemi usually comes with an interesting variety of paintings/prints, mixed-media and quasi- sculptural body of works as reflected in his previous shows. Adeyemi is a seasoned master of art with nearly forty years of professional experience if we are to start counting from 1984 when he graduated with a Higher National Diploma (HND), specializing in painting. Though, he was involved as an amateur artist before the 1984-HND date.


Kunle Adeyemi's Innovative Testament is a bold affirmation of his close to four decades of artistic escapades and creative odysseys. He started by conquering the artistic and creative challenges of the wonderful years of transformation from an art student/acolyte into a professional artist and thereafter became a master artist.

The exhibition is an aesthetic testament to the glory of steadfastness, belief and success in his oeuvre of paintings in the early days, mixed-media, and prints in different forms and terms leading to 'Paintograph and Paintocast' that yielded a Ph.D. for Adeyemi to boot, before crystalizing in high-relief sculpture on board in recent shows.

Hence, Kunle Adeyemi's Innovative Testament is a crystal clear realistic statement that aesthetics and creative adventurism coupled with eclecticism is an eternal, infinite artistic venture. It is forever evolving and transforming like the over sixty years (six-four years) of Adeyemi's existence on Earth, or his close to forty years (thirty-nine years) of artistic practice that is captured and reflected in his numerous artworks of different genres and terminologies.

Adeyemi's Ondo-Yoruba/African philosophical projection is ever constant in his works of art through the decades. Thus, Innovative Testament is another successful addition to the ever-growing list of Kunle Adeyemi's aesthetic conquest in different genres of art, especially in the printmaking world as well as the relief sculpture realm in the recent contemporary study. But, whether anyone like it or not, Adeyemi's personal Ph.D. research discovery, 'Paintograph' and 'Paintocast' works will always take their pride of place in his exhibitions because they are unique and refreshingly African in finishing. Thank you. 

-Rasheed Amodu, Artist, Art Historian/Critic, Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria. March 6, 2023.

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1 comment:

  1. Dr Adeyemi is indeed an artist of many parts whose hunger for creative discovery is endless. He is already an elder in the advancement of Art education in our contemporary world. I congratulate him for the "Innovative Testament..."
    Department of Photography, Auchi Polytechnic Auchi.