Wednesday 3 January 2024

Hybridised textures of Koko's 'Water Me' explore 'womanism, bodypositivity'

'Ive (Beauty), glazed ceramic, 9 x 8 inches, dated 2023, by Fiyin Koko.

WITH nearly ten group art exhibitions, between 2020 and currently, Fiyin Koko represents the fresh energies of artists driving the emergence of new phase of art in Lagos. Armed with potentials across painting and sculpture, Koko is on self-discovery to be counted among the new generation of artists whose works make bold statements in critical and commercial appreciation spaces.

Currently showing her solo art exhibition titled Water Me, ending January 7, 2024, at Yenwa Gallery, Muri-Okunola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos,  Koko's themes, among others, focus humanity and femininity. And her choice of the central theme, Water Me, simply pleads for life to get across humanity, in love. Koko's thematic focus, styles and techniques in painting, no doubt, have the potentials to strengthen the unfolding new wave of creatives. Interestingly too, Koko is showing her major debut solo exhibition at Yenwa Gallery, a space known for projecting fresh and new artists.

 In sculpture, Koko's touch exudes what looks like deliberate naivety, which hybridised ancient and modern textures, with contemporary themes. Among such sculptures are Blue Light, painted terracotta and copper, 10 x 8 inches; Heirloom, partly smoked, partly glazed ceramics, 11 x 7 inches; Ede (crown, glazed ceramics, 14 x 6 inches; The Yellow Stool, painted clay sculpture, 5.5 x 8 inch; and Ekhorose (soul that is beautiful or elegant soul), glazed ceramics, 9 x 10 inches, all dated 2023. And quite of interest is a four-leged sculpture, The Yellow Stool, which radiates so much about the artist's intentional naivety, using her analogy on man's natural lack of perfection. 

 "The four legs of the stool, though not identically shaped or equal, still find a harmonious balance," Koko stated in a text accompanying the sculpture. "This asymmetry carries a reminder that perfection lies in our imperfections, and that the essence of life and prayer is not in uniformity but in the beautifully diverse ways we reach for the divine." It's not just a piece of art, but comes with its spirituality as Koko Inscribed some "words and prayers, etched into the clay with love and intention," represent the artist's thoughts. "These sacred inscriptions serve as a journal of the soul, recording the silent conversations, aspirations, and heartfelt pleas of the woman who kneels upon it," Koko stressed. "It embodies the idea that the stool is not merely an object; it becomes a confidant, a silent keeper of her deepest emotions and desires. The yellow Stool is a testament to the power of prayer."

Koko came into the sculpture medium from a rich background of being inspired by the revered Benin art tradition, which perhaps, explains the ancient textures of her work. And from the contemporary age, the artist found inspiration in the masterly works of Peju Alatise. "The sculptural pieces, rich and otherworldly, pay homage to the molding traditions of Benin city," founder of Yenwa Gallery and curator of Water Me, Ugonna Ibe stated. "Fiyin Koko ventures beyond firing and uses brown coffee feldspar glaze to create contemporary vessels that beckon us, ready to hold us or pour into us depending on the viewer’s needs." The curator noted that one of the works titled Vessels expose "the growth in Fiyin’s practice inspired by her encounters with notable artist Peju Alatise, further emphasizing the importance of nurturing relationships and community." 

Find My Way - Bravolu

Sharing her thoughts on the Water Me theme, Koko explained that as an artist, she explores quite a number of beauty and complexity of life through the lens of womanism, conversation, bodypositivity, movement, love, and femininity. Excerpts from Koko's Artist Statement:  "Water Me”represents an evolution of these guiding pillars, incorporating them into a broader narrative that speaks to the essence of growth in forms I’m familiar with. The title, "Water Me," serves as a metaphor, embodying the essence of the entire exhibition— It is a plea, a statement, and an acknowledgment of the fundamental need for sustenance and growth. In its literal sense, "water me" translates to ‘give me life’. The works presented in this exhibition respond to the question “What waters me?”. They unveil a narrative encompassing themes of support, love, communication, belief, care, hope, growing pains, and the pruning that life and its experiences bring."

Separating Yoruba religious tradition from Isese

Translucent S.I. Media management agency for artists and art galleries

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