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SPEAKING IN

VERNACULAR O LA – D E L E K U K U architect – artist

Text by : SARA WEYNS F. K E H I N D E O L U Y A D I CHIKA UNIGWE ROGER NDÉMA KINGUÉ With the participation of : P H I L I P P E LA E R E M A N S VAN MARADI FOUNDATION


OLA–DELE KUKU

T EX TS

ART O BJ EC TS

selected works (drawings and built images)

p. 5

p. 93

‘Cosmos Unexplained’

‘Chance Happening’

p. 9

p. 101

‘Fracas’

‘Termination Rituals’

p. 23

p. 109

‘Aftermath’

‘Relative Options’

p. 35

p. 117

Celestial Mechanics’

‘Living with the Fates’ – relapse series

p. 51

p. 145

‘Noah’s Grief’

‘Six Dots’

p. 59

p. 159

‘Fall Out’

‘Vocabulary of Motives’

p. 69

‘Living with the Fates’

AFR I CAN T RA DI T I ON A L

English p. 8 / 22 / 50 / 147 / 162

Nederlands p. 33 / 34 / 108 / 158 / 160

Sara Weyns p. 7 / 18–19 / 44–45 / 67 / 68 / 92 / 116 / 172

F. Kehinde Oluyadi p. 78–79 / 100 / 144

Chika Unigwe p. 66 / 120–121 / 134–135

Roger Ndéma Kingué p. 174

Biography p. 176

Credits

p. 118

Dan Mask p. 122 / 138

Bacongo fetish Object p. 128

Dan Mask p. 129

Nok terra cotta Object p. 130

Bamileke Mask p. 132

Toma Mask p. 136

Ibibio Mask p. 137

Benin ivory Mask p. 140

Ogoni brass Object p. 142 / 143

Teke Object


‘Cosmos Unexplained’ 2000 built image (mixed media on paper) 50 cm x 70 cm

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ERO INU LORI EYA ARA (THE ANATOMY OF THOUGHT) by F. Kehinde Oluyadi

OYE INU (The Abstract) Awon onise-ona bii, osere, akewi, ayaworan ile-kiko, a maa lo imo won lati gbe itumo awon ero awon eniyan to wa ni ayika won jade latara ise ti won n se. Nitori idi eyi, awon alaye ti awon wonyi maa nse lori awon isele to sele l’ayika won kii se amulumala ero bi ko se eyi to je koko iwa ibaje tabi oro oselu, paapaa julo awon nnkan to ndun awon ara ilu lokan tabi awon ibeere nnkan to ba ohun ijinle to nsele ni agbaye. Awon onise yii won tun ni ebun adanida. Ero a maa wa si okan won ni gbogbo igba nitori ohun gbogbo layika won ni o igba. Won a ma lo gbogbo ogbon ati imo lati gbe ero inu won jade fun awon eniyan lati ara ise owo won. Ni opo igba, àwon onise-ona ayaworan ile-kiko, akowe, tabi akewi, won a maa lo arojinle ati igbagbo won lori ohun abinibi lati Bi a ba wo pupo ninu ise awon onise-ona ti won nsise agbegi lere, tabi won je Alamo tabi ayaworan , a o ma ri wipe ni opo igba “ori” a maa je aworan ti ti “ori” je si awon ayaworan ati omo Yoruba lapapo.

awon oro enu ti a gba sile ti won ti so di ojulowo iwe kika, owe ile Yoruba ti o ara bi Yoruba se lo won ninu oro siso ati itunmo to jinle. A o mo itumo ori, ati orisi ona ti a ma ngba lo “ori” ati igbagbo Yoruba ninu “ori”, awon eya ara yooku bii, “enu”, a o mo die naa ninu igbagbo Yoruba lori “enu”, ati bi o se njeyo ninu owe ile Yoruba. Odu ifa, Ejiogbe ki “ori”, pelu awon orisa to ti o koko yan ori-inu nigba ti ‘Cosmos Unexplained’ I (2000) – built image (mixed media on paper) 50 cm x 70 cm

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awure eni. Ori ni o n bi eniyan se ma se igbesi aye re gege bi ayanmo ti o ti yan lati orun.

ERO INU LORI EYA ARA ( THE ANATOMY OF THOUGHT ) by F. Kehinde Oluyadi

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Ola-Dele KuKu D r a w i n g s a n D B u i lt i m a g e s By Sara Weyns starting the task to record a long conversation with Ola-Dele Kuku on these pages of his new book, alexander Calder’s mercury fountain comes to mind. in this remarkable fountain, mercury drops spring from a source, roll towards each other

‘Fracas’ I–XXX 1998 / 2000 drawings (mixed media on paper)

the conversation i had with Ola-Dele Kuku in his studio, had a similar dynamic movement: observations were instigated, the hooked together, took the form of concrete works of art, and together they revealed a total vision. all this to then disintegrate in yet again new possible interpretations, new insights.

106 cm x 128 cm

Our conversation focused on his drawings, thus limiting ourselves to a great extent: we would not discuss the sculpture, installations, lectures, workshops, videos, texts from collaborations… that are all together part of the oeuvre of this artist-architect. Just the drawings. not his career as a visual artist, architect, lecturer, researcher, sociologist, philosopher and publicist were discussed, nor the wanderings he undertook through great Britain, nigeria, switzerland, italy, the netherlands and Belgium. we locked ourselves up in one city, in one room, at one table. we looked at a sheet of paper. and it was this converging movement the idea that a drawing is merely a preliminary exercise for the real work (sculpture, architecture, painting…) has long been outdated. By now, the technique has proven to be a form of art that is in fact quite intense, sensitive, personal and particularly direct. also possibly one of the trickiest of disciplines, because a drawing offers but few distractions such as monumentality, spectacle or interaction. morethrough the lens of a microscope a basic pencil drawing becomes a rough and crumbly track of graphite through a curved landscape. and yet, seen from above a sculpture can appear to be a drawing and our planet becomes a smooth aerial photograph. the artist often refers to his works as ‘built images’. they are literally being built: some parts are cut to be pasted someplace else, often layer upon layer. text, star maps, enlarged details from photographs become part of the construcFor Ola-Dele Kuku a drawing exists by the grace of the tension between the of his drawings: Celestial Mechanics (1997–1998). this deals with enactments of time. they suggest the movement of planets, their choreography and almost easily see the wheels of a mechanical timepiece: man has found a material, tangible form for a force that is actually too immense for our senses. the logic of the mechanism presents the abstract concept of time in a comprehensible manner. Celestial Mechanics was the basis for all following series: the artist started to search for the reasons why things work how they work.

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O l a - D e l e K u K u D r a w i n g s a n D B u i l t i m a g e s By Sara Weyns

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‘Fracas’ – critical value series II/X (1998 / 2000) – drawing (mixed media on paper) 106 cm x 128 cm

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‘Fracas’ – critical value series VI/X (1998 / 2000) – drawing (mixed media on paper) 106 cm x 128 cm

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‘Fracas’ – shrinkage series III/X (1998 / 2000) – drawing (mixed media on paper) 106 cm x 128 cm

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‘Fracas’ – critical value series VIII/X (1998 / 2000) – drawing (mixed media on paper) 106 cm x 128 cm

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‘Fracas’ – equilibrium series VIII/X (1998 / 2000) – drawing (mixed media on paper) 106 cm x 128 cm

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‘Fracas’ – equilibrium series X /X (1998 / 2000) – drawing (mixed media on paper) 106 cm x 128 cm

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‘Fracas’ – equilibrium series IX/X (1998 / 2000) – drawing (mixed media on paper) 106 cm x 128 cm

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(detail)

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OR I (The Head) ‘Ori koo da mi ‘re Orisa ma jee n s’owo asenu Adifa fun okankan-lenirunwo Irunmole Nigbati won ntode orun bo wa si ode aiye Ori lo koko da Orunmila si Oke-Igeti Ori koo da mi ‘re Orisa ma jee n sowo asenu Ori lo da Osun sode igede Ori koo da mi ‘re Orisa ma jee n sowo asenu Ori lo da ObatalOrisa ma jee sowo asenu Ori lo da awon Iyami Aje sode Ota Ori koo da mi ‘re Orisa ma jee n sowo asenu Ori lo da Sango sode Koso Ori koo da mi ‘re Orisa ma jee n sowo asenu Ori lo da Oya si ile Ira Ori koo da mi ‘re Orisa ma jee n sowo asenu Ori lo da Ogun si ilu Ire Ori koo da mi ‘re - Orisa ma jee n sowo asenu Ori lo da Esu si Ketu Ori koo da mi ‘re Orisa ma jee n sowo asenu Ori lo da Orisa Oko si Irawo-Agba Ori koo da mi ‘re Orisa ma jee n sowo asenu

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Ori lo da Eegun si ile Oje a sode Ifon Ori koo da mi ‘re Ori koo da mi ‘re’ Bi mo ba lowo lowo Ori ni n o ro fun Orii mi, iwo ni Bi mo ba bimo l’aiye Ori ni n o ro fun Orii mi, iwo ni Ire gbogbo ti mo ma ni l’aiye Ori ni n o ro fun Orii mi, iwo ni Ori pele Atete niran Atete gbe’ni k’oosa Ko soosa ti i da’ni i gbe Leyin Ori eni Ase ‘To ba se pe ori gbogbo nii sun posi Iroko gbogbo ko ba ti tan nigbo A difa fun igba eni

Ti n t’orun bo w’aye Owere la n ja gbogbo wa Owere la n ja Eni ya ori re o to nkann, Owere la n ja gbogbo wa Owere la n ja’. Apeere miiran to so nipa “ori” gege bi eya ara abawaye awa eda.

Ori-inu eni nii ba nii s’aye eni Eda aba-waye, ohun l’ori eni Ohun ti ese Ifa Isale yii soro nipa “ori” pe, ko ti wu ki eniyan ni oriire, kii se eyi nikan ni o ma so iru eniyan ti eniyan ma je laye, bikose “iwa” ni o n gb’eniyan de ibi ayanmo. Inu bibi o da nnkan, suuru baba iwa; Agba t’oni suuru, ohun gbogbo l’o ni; A dia fun ori, a bu fun iwa. T’iwa nikan lo soro; Ori kan o buru n’ile Ife; t’iwa nikan lo soro.

Bi Yoruba ba ji l’owuro, ohun ti won koko ma n se ni, ki won juba “ori”. Idi won gbe won fun gbogbo ohun ti won ba ma se lojo naa, ki ori tabi eledaa won ma se gba ebode fun, ko ori sin won jade si ire gbogbo. Ti Yoruba ba jeeji di “ori” won mu, won a ma ni: ‘Ori a gbe’ni ti ngbe ire pade Olokun Ori Aluko ti ngbe ire pade Olosa Ori mi jowo, gbe ire mi pade mi lonii Ki n d’eni olola, ki n d’eni ola’ Awure to lagbara, ti o si je a-je-bi-idan ni eyi je, o si ni ijinle ninu lopolopo. ma n je fun eni to ba ka ni owuro to ba ji, ki o to jade sita. Owe Yoruba to tun so nipa “ori”: ‘Obinrin so iwa nu O ni oun o mu ori oko wa’ye’

Ti n’torun bo w’aye To ba se ori gbogbo nii sun posi Iroko gbogbo iba ti tan ni’gbo A difa fun igba ese

ERO INU LORI EYA ARA ( THE ANATOMY OF THOUGHT ) by F. Kehinde Oluyadi

ERO INU LORI EYA ARA ( THE ANATOMY OF THOUGHT ) by F. Kehinde Oluyadi

p. 19


‘Fracas’ – relapse series II/III (2000) – drawing (mixed media on paper) 106 cm / 206 cm

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(detail)

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the drawings of Ola-Dele Kuku have no similarities to the architectural plans your average architect produces for the expansion of your veranda. they do not even resemble the iconographic designs by the stars of architecture, or the layered drawings of urbanists and urban planners. this should be ascribed to their initial concept: that of Ola-Dele Kuku differs greatly from most architectural approaches. His primary question is not ‘How can we best build this?’ but ‘why should we build here in this or that way?’ and ‘what is needed in this particular situation?’. this does not at all mean that he wants to substitute architecture for tecture, the mathematic side, which is equally ‘fantastic’ in his opinion. it is the space of the imagination. numbers play a leading role: they are measures and proportions, that which gives meaning to the architect’s plans. By far the most legendary human achievement, according to Kuku. they connect the concrete with the abstract. the combination of mathematics and imagination has already proven its explosive force in art history: think of the golden mean, the invention of perspective. For an architect they are also an expression of scale, and thus relate to the human body. and this body does have its restrictions. One of those restrictions is our sen-

‘Aftermath’ I–X 2001 / 2002 built images (mixed media on paper) 120 cm x 150 cm

senses: dust particles in the air, pheromones, or the elements in our respiration. from that sensory perception. in fact we are deaf, blind, mute and senseless to the lion’s share of the tangible world, except when we give something our express attention. we need imagination as an elongation of our perception, to obtain a wider perspective. and when imagination is set free, a – literally – immeasurable space will arise. the drawings of Ola-Dele Kuku, but also other work forms such as education or texts, are therefore highly conceptual. He creates in the mind, transforms the concept into something that is conceivable, discussable, and imaginable. His drawings are exercises of the mind, a form of research. as far as mankind is concerned, the – provisional – conclusions of this research is the propelling force in interpersonal relations, and in relations of people to their surrounced as being a negative quality. we call it competitiveness and see it as progress. it is a determining factor in the evolution of life on this planet. now that the history of this evolution is mapped for a great part and its very principle is widely achuman life, and that practical solutions would have been found already. we could creatively anticipate to the concept of evolution. But that hardly seems to be the presupposition of human existence is notably ignored.

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O l a - D e l e K u K u D r a w i n g s a n D B u i l t i m a g e s By Sara Weyns

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‘Aftermath’ VIII/X (2001 / 2002) – built image (mixed media on paper) 120 cm x 150 cm

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‘Aftermath’ VII/X (2001 / 2002) – built image (mixed media on paper) 120 cm x 150 cm

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‘Aftermath’ IX/X (2001 / 2002) – built image (mixed media on paper) 120 cm x 150 cm

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(detail)

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‘Aftermath’ IV/X (2001 / 2002) – built image (mixed media on paper) 120 cm x 150 cm

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(detail)

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‘Aftermath’ VI/X (2001 / 2002) – built image (mixed media on paper) 120 cm x 150 cm

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‘Aftermath’ V/X (2001 / 2002) – built image (mixed media on paper) 120 cm x 150 cm

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Ola-Dele KuKu teKeningen en geBOuwDe BeelDen By Sara Weyns

fontein van alexander Calder zich aan me op. in deze merkwaardige fonteinsculptuur ontspringen de kwikdruppels aan een bron, rollen naar elkaar toe en vormen samen kleine elementen, en tenslotte één consistent geheel. Om vervolgens weer open te barsten in een regen van zilveren druppels en nieuwe samenstellingen aan te gaan. manier: observaties werden opgeworpen, haakten zich aan elkaar vast, namen de vorm aan van concrete kunstwerken en samen brachten ze een totaalvisie aan het nieuwe inzichten. grenzen opgelegd: niet de sculpturen, installaties, lezingen, workshops, video’s, teksten of samenwerkingen die samen het oeuvre van de kunstenaar-architect we sloten ons op in één stad, één kamer, aan één tafel. we keken naar een blad papier. Die convergerende beweging zelf werd ons eerste onderwerp. De idee dat een tekening slechts een voorbereidende oefening voor het echte werk (beeldhouwen, architectuur, schilderen…) is, heeft al lang afgedaan. tekeof interactie. Het is bovendien een misvatting dat een tekening iets tweedimen-

knipt en elders ingeplakt, vaak meerdere lagen op elkaar. tekst, sterrenkaarten, uitvergrote details uit foto’s gaan allemaal deel uitmaken van de constructie. een(detail)

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Ola -D e le K u K u teK e n i n ge n e n geB Ou w D e B e e lD e n By Sara Weyns

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ken, en de materie betekenis te verlenen. De kiem daarvoor vinden we al in een Celestial Mechanics (1997-1998). Het

‘Celestial Mechanics’ I–VIII 1997 / 1998

-

drawings (mixed media on paper) 90 cm x 70 cm

Celestial Mechanics vormde de basis voor alle volgende reeksen: de kunst enaar ging op zoek naar de reden waarom de dingen werken zoals ze werken. uw huis-, tuin- en keukenarchitect op tafel legt voor de uitbreiding van uw achnoch op de gelaagde tekeningen van urbanisten en stadsplanners. Dat heeft te

‘fantastische’ is. Het is de ruimte van de verbeelding. getallen spelen een hoofdstracte. De combinatie van wiskunde en verbeelding heeft in de kunstgeschiedenis haar explosieve kracht al bewezen: denk aan de gulden snede, de uitvinding van het perspectief. Bovendien drukken ze voor een architect een schaal uit, en kunnen hebben de verbeelding nodig als verlengde van onze perceptie, om een overzicht -

onderzoek.

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Ol a-D el e Ku Ku t e Ken i ngen en geBOuw De Beel Den By Sara Weyns

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‘Celestial Mechanics’ VII/VIII (1997 / 1998) – drawing (mixed media on paper) 90 cm x 70 cm

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(detail)

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(detail)

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(detail)

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‘Celestial Mechanics’ IV/VIII (1997 / 1998) – drawing (mixed media on paper) 90 cm x 70 cm

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(detail)

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‘Celestial Mechanics’ VI/VIII (1997 / 1998) – drawing (mixed media on paper) 90 cm x 70 cm

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(detail)

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OJU, ESE, OWO, ATI IDI (The Eye, The Leg, The Hand and The Buttom) ‘Igi ganganran ma gun mi l’oju Atokere la ti n wo wa’ Owe oke yii ya aworan si okan eniyan bi eni pe eniyan nwo igi gigun to fe wo oju eniyan ni. Eda oro ni gbolohun eniyan ti ko ba ni ifura pe ki eni naa kiyesara.

‘Agbon n se, oyin na n se, Beesi ni oju oloko ree kondukondu’ Ese Ifa miiran to soro nipa eya ara ti o je wi pe, ninu odu Ifa yii, o soro nipa eya ara, “oju”, “ese”, ati “idi” ‘Bi oju ba se meji, won a woran Bi ese ba se meji, won a rinna

‘Oju eni ma la, a ri iyonu’

laala, akitiyan, agbara kaka ati iforiti, ti o wa di oloro nikehin. Bi igbesi aye eda se ri ni. Eniyan nilati lakaka ko to jeun. Gbolohun owe ti a ko si isale yii n soro nipa ki eniyan mu okan re si oju kan, ki o s’ohun ti o ba fe se, lai s’iye meji: ‘Patapata la fo’ju, Kumo kumo l’aa d’ete Oju afo-ifotan Ija nii da sile’ Awon owe miiran to toka si eya ara “oju”: ‘Oju aanu ti fo, ti’ka lo ku’ ‘Bi oju ba n se ipin A ma yo fun oju wo’

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Bebe idi se meji, won a joko sori eni Owo kan, ko ro sekeseke Beni ese kan, ko se girigiri l’ona….’. A lo apeere odu ifa ti a se asayan re

oye oro ijinle ti ese Ifa fe so. Eyi a ma ya aworan si okan eni ti o ba n gbo bi a se n ka ese ifa yii jade. O si maa n dun l’eti lati gbo. Bi a ba wo awon ila bi gbolohun oke yii se lo, a o ri pe aworan n je jade lati okan eniyan bi a se nka ila yii, eyi a je ki eniyan ni arojinle. Bi a ba wo, koko ohun ti ese ifa naa nso fun wa, o n se akawe pe owo kan ko le

sin ni, be eniyan ba sin ileke sidi ona meji ni Yoruba n sin bebe idi si. Eyi lo ma n fun bebe idi ni ewa bi eniyan ba inu wo awon koko inu oro naa, a o ri pe eniyan kan ko le da s’ohun gbogbo laye, ajose ni o ni ile aye. ‘Agbalagba to so agbado mo idi O so ara re di alawada adie’ ‘Akii binu ori ‘Ajeje owo kan ko gb’eru d’ori’

ninu odu Ifa yii. Ijinle ede ni eyi, eni ba mo itumo ijinle yii lo ma mo ohun to wa lehin eafa, o ju oje lo, itumo pe, Owo ni itumo ninu ero ijinle Yoruba ju ‘Owo omode ko to pepe Tagbalagba ko wo akeregbe Ise a ba be agba ko ma ko Nitori gbogbo wa ni a ni’se ti a n be ara wa’

Itumo owe yii ko yato si eyi ti a ti mu jade ninu ese Ifa ti a ti koko ko soke. Ko si eni to ma so pe ohun le da nnkara re je ni. Bi a ba wo aworan ti oro yii ya sinu okan wa, a o ri pe bi a ba wo, bi eniyan ba bere lati gbe eru nile, nile lati gbe s’ori. Bi a ba wo ni ijinle Yoruba, eyi tumo si pe gbogbo wa ni a nilati da owo po lati se ise eyi ti o ma mu abajade rere fun oniruuru eniyan. Ese Ifa tun soro nipa eya ara Owo, ni-

ese meji ni o le yara de ibi to fe lo, bee

ERO INU LORI EYA ARA ( THE ANATOMY OF THOUGHT ) by F. Kehinde Oluyadi

ERO INU LORI EYA ARA ( THE ANATOMY OF THOUGHT ) by F. Kehinde Oluyadi

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‘Celestial Mechanics’ – relapse series IV/VIII (1998) – drawing (mixed media on paper) 120 cm x 150 cm

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(detail)

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‘Celestial Mechanics’ III/VIII (1998) – drawing (mixed media on paper) 120 cm x 150 cm

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(detail)

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not so by Ola-Dele Kuku. Because the answers to his starting questions ‘why should we intervene here in this or that way?’ and ‘what is needed in this particular situation?’, are sprung from the recognition that the situation almost always involves opposing interests or expectations. war, homelessness and natural disasters displace the boundaries of the existing condition so that people will utilise and organise new areas and relations. Being a steady source of misery, it is also an incentive for innovation and creativity. and according to the artist, the one could be employed to relieve the other. Considered the vast dimension of

‘Noah’s Grief’ – triptych 1998 / 1999 built images (mixed media on paper) 80 cm x 120 cm

to our living room – we could have easily and systematically developed studies along with other disciplines as sociology, psychology and the applied arts. You of our existence. For now, our reaction to war situations and disasters is highly inadequate. it is not innovative; we fall back to an almost primitive idea of what is needed in a present-day life. what if, Ola-Dele Kuku asks himself in a recent article in Kwintessens, what if people today need a meditation room? Or a recovery room? architects (and architecture education) are not prepared for that. when (world-wide, and on various levels of dislocation and other issues) then it should be the most important inspiration for architects and designers today. it could lead to a stream of achievable solutions (Kwintessens, n° 2, 2011). and that is what the situation needs. the series of drawings entitled Aftermath and Fall Out seem to address these considerations directly. in the series Aftermath you can feel the intensity of the mass. it shows a certain pressure, but the images remain consistent as a collection. it brings about associations of the roofs of a township or favella, but also the world view suggested in Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (2010) comes to mind: we all want (demand) our own space, preferably as spacious as possible, in which we are lord and master and do not need to consider our fellows. the many layers of the drawing show us the palimpsest of the landscape: when the original text has ceased to be of any value, a used parchment may serve a new handwriting over and over. as each layer leaves its track in the vellum, a landscape shows the tracks of its long-gone occupants. in his drawings or ‘built images’ Ola-Dele through the next. in other instances the readability is reduced, the story is not to be deciphered. this interpretation of the works requires a bird’s eye view, the perdirection, in the perspective of our sensory perception, as a structure or a city stuffed with skyscrapers. then they evoke a much more familiar (to us) western way of life. a way of life we accredit a positive value: urban, social, a network. it is a viable society, or the silence before the storm.

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O l a - D e l e K u K u D r a w i n g s a n D B u i l t i m a g e s By Sara Weyns

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‘Noah’s Grief’ – triptych I/III (1998 / 1999) – built image (mixed media on paper) 80 cm x 120 cm

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(detail)

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‘Noah’s Grief’ – triptych II/III (1998 / 1999) – built image (mixed media on paper) 80 cm x 120 cm

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(detail)

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‘Noah’s Grief’ – triptych III/III (1998 / 1999) – built image (mixed media on paper) 80 cm x 120 cm

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(detail)

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‘Fall Out’ I–IV 2003 / 2004 built images (mixed media on paper) 120 cm x 150 cm

(detail)

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‘Fall Out’ I/IV (2003 / 2004) – built image (mixed media on paper) 120 cm x 150 cm

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(detail)

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‘Fall Out’ III/IV (2003 / 2004) – built image (mixed media on paper) 120 cm x 150 cm

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(detail)

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‘Fall Out’ II/IV (2003 / 2004) – built image (mixed media on paper) 120 cm x 150 cm

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(detail)

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La materialisation de l’irreel dans l’œuvre de Ola-Dele Kuku by Roger Ndema Kingue

La genèse de l’œuvre de Ola-Dele Kuku est sa grande fascination pour les objets traditionnels africains tels les masques, les sculptures, les représentations symboliques, les ustensiles utilisés lors des rituels, les fétiches... L’artiste est en perpétuel questionnement sur la signification et l’interprétation que l’on faisait de ces choses primitives, ainsi que de l’importance et du sens que l’on leur donnait, tout comme de leur place dans la vie des populations et l’équilibre tout entier des villages africains. Pour Ola-Dele Kuku, originaire de la tribu Yoruba (Nigéria), ces objets font partie d’un tout. Ils sont le fruit de la représentation que les hommes se sont toujours fait – depuis la nuit des temps – de l’univers palpable et impalpable qui les entoure. C’est leur coutume. C’est leur religion. Le rapport entre les êtres vivants et la nature, le rapport entre le réel et le spirituel, bref, toute la cosmogonie traditionnelle est matérialisée dans ces objets qui portent l’Histoire des civilisations ancestrales. Depuis sa plus tendre enfance, l’artiste prend conscience de l’importance de l’univers dans lequel il évolue, et du rôle de chaque élément visible ou invisible qui le compose. Son monde est complet, tant sur le plan matériel que philosophique, et il est un simple élément de cet ensemble savamment organisé. En grandissant, sa curiosité intellectuelle le pousse à se demander comment les humains arrivaient à représenter ces conceptions abstraites que sont le cosmos et la spiritualité, dans des symboles concrets tels que le bois, la toile, la pierre, le fer, etc. Pourtant, tout au long de son parcours, Ola-Dele Kuku (architecte de formation) est confronté à deux réalités d’apparences contradictoires: celle de l’artiste qui vogue au gré de son inspiration souvent abstraite et spirituelle et celle des exigences cartésiennes dictées par sa formation empirique. Mais l’artiste esquive habilement le dilemme en allant trouver des ressources et des explications logiques aux sources de sa culture d’origine. Ola-Dele se base sur les fondements de la représentation. Ce qui est tangible et ce qui ne l’est pas. Pour l’artiste, le mécanisme est identique sur le fond, dans les structures traditionnelles et dans les structures modernes. Il n’ y a que la forme qui diffère.

ESE (The Leg) Obepe awo ese Obepe awo ese Lo difa f’ese Nijo ti ntikole orun bowaye Gbogbo awon ori sarajo Nwon o pee se sii Esu in e o pee se sii Bi o ti se gun naa nu un Ni won too waa ranse si ese Nigba naa ni imoran ti won ngbaa too wa gun Nwon ni be gege Ni awon awo won wi Opebe awo ese Opebe awo ese Lo difa f’ese Nijo ti nti kole orun bo waye Opebe mo mo de o Awo ese Enikan kii gbimoran Ko yo ese sile Opebe mo de o Awo ese Owe Yoruba to so nipa eya ara “ese” siwaju si: ‘Bi o ba ba, o pa Bi o o ba, o bu l’ese’ ‘Omo atiro to ra ese bata kan fun iya re Oro lo fe gbo’ ‘Ese girigiri nile anje ofe, Ajofe ku, o ma ri enikan

Mogudu wa ku, ko r’eni ti o je e’.

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La materialisation de l’irreel dans l’œuvre de Ola-Dele Kuku by Roger Ndema Kingue

ERO INU LORI EYA ARA ( THE ANATOMY OF THOUGHT ) by F. Kehinde Oluyadi

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OJU, ESE, OWO, ATI IDI (The Eye, The Leg,The Hand and The Buttom) Bi a ba wo ijinle to wa ninu koko ila merin odu Ifa ti a ko soke, a o ri pe, oro wa nibe. L’orefee (literarily), bi a ba wo, a o ri aworan ti o ya si wa lokan bi eni pe omode ko ga to lati mu nnkan lori pepe bee bi a ba gbe akeregbe sile, agbalagba ko le ki owo boo. Ni ti ijinle koko ti a fe fa yo, gbogbo eda lo ni ise ti a n se ti a si nilo enikeji lati ran ni lowo lati le se ise naa de oju ami. Eyi naa si n se akawe gbogbo alaye ti a ti n se soke pe gbogbo wa ni a ni nnkan kan lati be ara wa fun nitori enikan kii je ‘awa de’ Yoruba bo, won ni: ‘Keni huwa gbedegbede keni lee ku pelepele K’omo eni lee n’owo gbogboro l’eni sin’. Koko inu ila meta oke yii ni pe Yoruba gba pe iwa eni ni o ma ku eniyan ku lojo ti eniyan ba ku. Iwa rere yii naa

ki o to di wi pe a wo inu kilaasi. Idi ti a n se oro iyanju fun gbogbo awon omo ile-iwe re, ki a le j’ara mo iwe, ki a ma

‘Living with the Fates’ I–XII 2002 / 2003

‘Apa l’ara, igunpa ni’yekan,

built images (mixed media on paper) 40 cm x 50 cm

Bi o ri eni f’ehinti, bi ole l’aari, Bi a ko ba r’eni gbekele A te’ra mo ise eni’

ba awon ti won ba n sole, ti won ro wi pe nitori awon ti ni ebi tabi omo iya, won ti ri awon eniyan to ma ran won lowo. Sugbon gege bi iriri wa laye, ni opo igba, ebi le ma duro ti eniyan. Omo iya eni le ma duro ti eniyan ni ojo

d’iran. ‘A kii gba akaki lowo akiti; A kii gba ile baba eni lowo eni’. A tun ri ewi ode oni ti o menu ba sakawe. Nigba ti mo je omo ile-iwe alakobeere akosori ni ewi ode oni yii je fun mi. A ma se akosori awon owe igba lode bayi, a si ma n ka won ni araaaro,

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pe, bi a ba wo ehin ti a ko ri eniyan lati ran eni lowo, eniyan nilati ba ara re soro ko te’ra mo ise re. Eyi tumo si pe igbekele eniyan asan lo je. ‘Awo egungun l’obinrin le se, awo gelede l’obinrin le mo, B’obinrin f’oju k’oro, oro a gbe.’

ERO INU LORI EYA ARA ( THE ANATOMY OF THOUGHT ) by F. Kehinde Oluyadi

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‘Living with the Fates’ I/XII (2002 / 2003) – built image (mixed media on paper) 40 cm x 50 cm

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(detail)

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‘Living with the Fates’ II/XII (2002 / 2003) – built image (mixed media on paper) 40 cm x 50 cm

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‘Living with the Fates’ III/XII (2002 / 2003) – built image (mixed media on paper) 40 cm x 50 cm

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‘Living with the Fates’ IV/XII (2002 / 2003) – built image (mixed media on paper) 40 cm x 50 cm

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(detail)

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‘Living with the Fates’ V/XII (2002 / 2003) – built image (mixed media on paper) 40 cm x 50 cm

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(detail)

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Nothing, Chaos and (Calling to) Order By Chika Unigwe

$e divinity of the artist is directly traceable to the role he occupies in creation. In Igbo mythology, the big God, Chukwu or Chineke: He who creates is the master Artist. He made the world out of nothing but His thoughts. At the beginning, the world was a big chthonic mass. A huge morass of silt. $en Chineke made a blacksmith, the first artisan and gave him the responsibility of making the world habitable. $e blacksmith tied a long length of rope to heaven and slid down this rope onto the morass and blew the silt away. When that was done, and Chineke deemed it safe for human beings, he moulded a man and a woman, Eri and Amaku, to settle on the stable, organic world and multiply. $e couple quickly had a son. However , there was no food, so Eri and Amaku sacrificed their son to Chineke. $ey buried his limbs and intestines. His limbs sprouted yams and his intestines, coco-yams, the two staple food of the Igbos.1 Having created man, and having given the earth access to food, Chineke could withdraw into the heavens and concentrate on making lesser gods and goddesses to ensure that the affairs of the world ran smoothly. $ese lesser deities could have a much more intimate relationship with humans in the way that God could not. While He could not descend on earth to make Himself available and visible to man, these gods and goddesses could have their representations carved by that same man to continue the cycle of creation. Man made from nothing carves gods made from nothing. $ese lesser deities, a notch above man are ironically answerable to man. When a god does not adequately dispose of his or her duties, creating chaos as it were, it could be destroyed and a new image carved to replace it, bringing back order. $at is what the artist does. Out of nothing, out of chaos, he creates order. However, even in his divinity, the artist requires help. He needs what one may call, spiritual tools. And Chineke so loved the artist that He gave him at least two dieties to act as general patrons of the arts. My favourite of these two deities, not as a writer, but as a woman is the goddess Ala. Ala, also known as Ali, Ani, Ana, Ale in various Igbo dialects is amongst other things, also the goddess of the earth. She is therefore the most important of the lesser dieties. Without her, life would not be sustainable on earth. Ala is also the goddess of fertility. Ala is there at the beginning of every human creation to put babies in wombs, but as the goddess of the earth she is also there at the end to welcome the dead into her womb and to console them . She is too, in the goddess of morality and justice. But most importantly, she is both the goddess and grand patron of the Arts and is regarded as the source of all that is beautiful in nature. $e Igbo word for moral rectitude is mma which is also a synonym for beauty. In the worldview of the Igbo therefore there is a correlation between physical beauty and moral rectitude. Ala punishes offenders with ugliness, deformities and diseases. On the other hand, she endows those with whom she is 1 As is usual with Igbo legends, there is no single truth. Another variation to this mythology has it that Eri and Amaku had a son and a daughter. $ey sacrificed both. From the mounds of their grave sprouted yams and cocoyams.

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Nothing, Chaos and (Calling to) Order By Chika Unigwe

pleased with gi!s. One of the earliest to be gi!ed by Ala was her loyal messenger, the python. She decorated its otherwise plain body , giving a physical expression to its inner qualities before sending it out into the world. As the myth continues, it was in this manner that painting was introduced into the world. Having an affinity with women, Ala is believed to have passed on this gi! of painting exclusively to women in the form of uli wall and female body painting. Even though Willis claims in her well-researched paper published in African Art that Chineke is responsible for inspiring the initial designs for uli art2, many Igbo art critics3 and the folklore of my own people4 credit Ala with the inspiration. As the legend goes, a woman named Asele became the first uli painter and mimicked the patterns found on the animals which Ala had decorated. As time went on, the designs varied to contain and reflect the world view of NdiIgbo. Uli designs are frequently asymmetrical, and are o!en painted spontaneously. However, Uli is not just aesthetically pleasing, but also serves a spiritual purpose. Sometimes uli designs are used on the walls of shrines and created in conjunction with some community rituals. In the past, most uli designs were named, and many differed among various Igbo regions. Some were abstract, using patterns such as concentric circles and crooked lines and to inscribe the worldview of NdiIgbo on murals. Some designs were less cryptic, depicting household objects, food crops, heavenly bodies or animals. Ala, the goddess and grand patron of all arts, is not only a painter herself but an appreciator of art. She gives us permission to appreciate art for its own sake, to let beauty be its own reward. Unlike some of the other gods, she does not demand burnt offerings or blood, chickens or rams killed at her shrine, but she asks for an offering of beauty. In the past, when a community had a particularly good harvest, to show appreciation to the goddess, it would hire the best artists to erect a gallery5 in Ala’s honour, usually in the centre of the village, where it could be easily accessed and greatly admired, showing her in all her beauty and splendour, surrounded by her children and her husband the god of thunder, Amadioha, as well as a retinue of other gods. Each figure is painstakingly beautifully decorated, and this company is set against a background of colorful, abstract murals with metal and mirror insets. When the artists make new images, the old ones are destroyed and the cycle of creation and re-creation continues. From nothing, to order, to chaos, to nothing, to order. Ad infinitum.

2 Willis claims that Chineke created and designed the different animals, therefore inspiring human artists 3 Olu Oguibe argues differently in his seminal essay,’ $e Burden of Painting.’ 4 Osumenyi, Nnewi South L.G.A of Anambra State 5 this gallery is known in Igbo as Mbari. In some communities, the building of Mbari still exists. It is a ritual for pubescent youth to honour Ala . In Owerri for example, these young people live in seclusion outdide the village. $ey work for up to a year under the supervision of a master cra!sman and mould mud images of Ala and a pantheon of other gods and creatures . Sacrifices are made to Ala at the end of the seclusion. $e figures are le! to the elements to ravage and create room for another group to make new images of the gods. In this way the cycle of creation. creating from nothing and destruction (chaos) never ends. As testimony to the living nature of culture, some of figures created in revent times include tailors with sewing machines, Christ in a school uniform, Amadioha with a transistor radio and so on. Nothing, Chaos and (Calling to) Order By Chika Unigwe

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‘Living with the Fates’ VI/XII (2002 / 2003) – built image (mixed media on paper) 40 cm x 50 cm

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(detail)

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‘Living with the Fates’ VII/XII (2002 / 2003) – built image (mixed media on paper) 40 cm x 50 cm

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(detail)

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‘Living with the Fates’ VIII/XII (2002 / 2003) – built image (mixed media on paper) 40 cm x 50 cm

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‘Living with the Fates’ IX/XII (2002 / 2003) – built image (mixed media on paper) 40 cm x 50 cm

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‘Living with the Fates’ X/XII (2002 / 2003) – built image (mixed media on paper) 40 cm x 50 cm

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‘Living with the Fates’ XI/XII (2002 / 2003) – built image (mixed media on paper) 40 cm x 50 cm

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‘Living with the Fates’ XII/XII (2002 / 2003) – built image (mixed media on paper) 40 cm x 50 cm

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(detail)

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(detail)

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(detail)

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ENU (The Mouth) ‘Ayo oro enu, Ayo oro enu, Ebiti enu tase; Enu orofo nii p’orofo, Enu orofo nii p’orofo, Enu orofo nii p’orofo. A dia fun okere Ti yoo mule l’ebaa ona. Won ni ki okere o so’ra

Won ya bo sinu igbe, Won nawo gan ile okere, Won ba omo meji ti o bi naa Ni won ba mu won lo sile. Igba ti awon omo aye dele,

‘Chance Happening’ I–IV 2005 / 2006 built images (mixed media on paper) 102 cm x 150 cm

Won si ba obe lo’. Nitori pe enuu re ko bo. Apeere owe to jo mo “enu” ti a n soro nipa re ni eyi ti a ko yii:

Won ni ko mo moo Fi gbogbo ohun ti o ba ri So fun eeyan mo.

‘Omo ti yoo je Asamu, kekere ni yoo ti ma j’enu samu samu’

Okere o gbo. ‘Enu orofo kii dun yamu yamu’ Igba ti o ya, ‘Enu eni nii ko me je’ Iyawo okere bimo meji leekanaa, Igba ti inu okere dun tan,

‘Enu agba ni obi i gbo si’ —

To di ojo kan, O ni Okere bimo meji, Ile kun teteete, Gbogbo ero ona, E ya waa wo o. Igba ti awon aye gbo,

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ERO INU LORI EYA ARA ( THE ANATOMY OF THOUGHT ) by F. Kehinde Oluyadi

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‘Chance Happening’ IV/IV (2005 / 2006) – built image (mixed media on paper) 102 cm x 150 cm

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(detail)

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‘Chance Happening’ I/IV (2005 / 2006) – built image (mixed media on paper) 102 cm x 150 cm

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(detail)

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‘Chance Happening’ III/IV (2005 / 2006) – built image (mixed media on paper) 102 cm x 150 cm

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(detail)

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Of equal importance to artists is Agwu. I have always thought that my second favourite god, Agwu , the god of creativity, of wisdom, of divinity and healing would make a better consort for Ala than Amadioha1, the god of thunder and lightening because they complement each other. Agwu is a dual-faced deity. $e malevolent Agwu Ocha2 is the alter ego of the benevolent Agwu Oji3. In Igbo world view, artists are both visionaries and technicians , and so it stands to reason that Agwu is also the god responsible for transferring visionary power. In Igbo culture this visionary power is needed for healing, which in itself is an art. It is not a skill to be learned at the foot of an apprentice. Agwu descends on whom he wills but does not easily accept rejection. In a family with a record of the healing art, Agwu will o!en possess a family member in order to transfer to him or her, the power to ‘see; and therefore to heal. He who rejects Agwu’s gi!s of healing is punished with ara agwu ( temporary insanity) to give him time to think and accept the gi! which has been so generously bestowed on him.

‘Termination Rituals’ I–VI 1989 built images (mixed media on paper) A3 mounts

Agwu Ocha, does not only strike with insanity to punish obstinacy, but is as vengeful as to cause chaos on sites of creativity. O!en for no discernible reason. Perhaps out of mischief? Jealousy? $e Pukkelpop disasters4 come very easily to mind as being the handiwork of the god of creativity being malevolent. He also causes madness in the superbly talented, those who have heeded the call and are practising the art. $is madness is o!en manifest as eccentricity. Many names come easily to mind. Woody Allen. Michael Jackson. Nina Simone. Marvin Gaye. Bob Marley. $ey have all been possessed at various times by Agwu ocha. My father, while reverent of Fela’s genius would o!en say that he was in the grips of Agwu Ocha when he danced like one possessed or to explain his numerous wives. Agwu Oji on the other hand, is Agwu at its benevolent best. When Agwu Oji possesses the artist, he is able to work. In the absence of Agwu a writer suffers writer’s block; a visual artist feels lethargic, can find no inspiration, no motivation. When Agwu departs from an artist, he says that his Muse is gone. Sometimes, the search for that Muse in our times involve using drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, when there is an addiction to these as a means to luring Agwu out, it can lead to the demise of Agwu oji in the practitioner. Also when Agwu Ocha overpowers agwu oji in any practitioner, it has very destructive effects on the practitioner himself. Perhaps this happens when the gods themselves get jealous of the power to create of mortal man.

1

Ala is the consort of Amadioha, the god of thunder and lightning, also known as the ‘angel of death.’ He is the god of destruction and his worshippers call on him to strike their enemies with death. Whereas Ala nurtures and consoles, Amadioha wreaks havoc. 2 White Agwu 3 Black Agwu 4 On August 18 2011, Kiewit, Hasselt, Belgium , venue for a popular outdoor music festival, Pukkelpop, was struck by an aggressive but short weather storm. A stage collapsed, injuring about 75 people and killing 6. In 2010, Charles Haddon , of Oeu Est Le Swimming Pool, injured a girl when he dived into the crowd at the end of the band’s gig. Terrified and upset , he committed suicide.

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Nothing, Chaos and (Calling to) Order By Chika Unigwe

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‘Termination Rituals’ I/VI (1989) – built image (mixed media on paper) A3 mounts

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‘Termination Rituals’ II/VI (1989) – built image (mixed media on paper) A3 mounts

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‘Termination Rituals’ III/VI (1989) – built image (mixed media on paper) A3 mounts

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(detail)

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‘Termination Rituals’ IV/VI (1989) – built image (mixed media on paper) A3 Mounts

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(detail)

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zoek bepaald niet rooskleurig. telkens opnieuw ondervindt de kunstenaar dat zelfs heel vaak niet als iets negatiefs gepercipieerd. we noemen het competitiviteit, en we zien het als vooruitgang. Het is een bepalende factor in de evolutie van het leven op deze planeet. nu de geschiedenis van die evolutie grotendeels in kaart is gebracht, en het principe ervan toch algemeen aanvaard wordt, zou

‘Relative Options’ I–V 2006 /2007 built images (mixed media on paper) 130 cm x 150 cm

-

botsende belangen of verwachtingen. Oorlog, ontheemding en natuurrampen maken dat de grens van de bestaande toestand verschuift, dat mensen nieuwe gebieden of relaties naar hun hand gaan zetten of gaan organiseren. Dat is niet alleen steevast de bron van veel ellende, het is ook de motor van innovatie en creativiteit. en het één zou volgens de kunstenaar gebruikt kunnen worden om clash van mens en natuur waar we ons mee geconfronteerd zien – en vooral ook opbouw’ ontwikkeld kunnen hebben. architectuur kan daar een trekkersrol in spelen, maar ook andere disciplines als sociologie, psychologie en de toegezo actief en sturend reageren op één van de bepalende principes van ons bevan wat het leven vandaag nodig heeft. wat, vraagt Ola-Dele Kuku zich af in een recent artikel in Kwintessens, als mensen vandaag een meditatiekamer nodig -

oplossingen voort komen. (Kwintessens, nr.2, 2011) en dat is wat de situatie nodig heeft.

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Ol a-D el e Ku Ku t e Ken i ngen en geBOuw De Beel Den By Sara Weyns

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‘Relative Options’ I/V (2006 / 2007) – built image (mixed media on paper) 130 cm x 150 cm

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(detail)

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‘Relative Options’ II/V (2006 / 2007) – built image (mixed media on paper) 130 cm x 150 cm

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‘Relative Options’ III/V (2006 / 2007) – built image (mixed media on paper) 130 cm x 150 cm

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‘Relative Options’ IV/V (2006 / 2007) – built image (mixed media on paper) 130 cm x 150 cm

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‘Relative Options’ V/V (2006 / 2007) – built image (mixed media on paper) 130 cm x 150 cm

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ATELOWO (The Palm) Atelewo eni kii tan’ni je’

ifohunpeeyan ti ko ni tan eniyan je. Sugbon, eda oro to jinle ni owe yii duro fun. Yoruba a ma loo nigba ti won ba n parowa fun eniyan ti o n sise titi ti ko lere nibe, won a ma so wi pe ki o ma sise lo nitori ohun ti

‘Living with the Fates’ – relapse series I–XII

ona, yala, ayaworan ile-kiko, omole (brick layer), onidiri, alagbafo, olounje ati bee bee lo, gbogbo awon onise-ona ti a daruko soke ni o

150 cm x 155 cm

2003 / 2004 built images (mixed media on paper)

eniyan ba fowo yepere mu ise, ni eni naa ma kuta nibi ise owo to nse. Awon ti won je ayaworan ile-kiko, ise won ko kuta laye yii nitori ise ori pipe to kun fun ero pupo ni ise na nse.

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ERO INU LORI EYA ARA ( THE ANATOMY OF THOUGHT ) by F. Kehinde Oluyadi

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Dan Mask

‘Living with the Fates’ – relapse series II/XII (2003 / 2004) – built image (mixed media on paper) 150 cm x 155 cm

(Ivory Coast)

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La conception traditionnelle est basée sur le spirituel, tandis que la conception moderne se base sur le rationnel. Sans utiliser la même technologie ni les mêmes outils apparents, le voyage spirituel du diseur d’avenir obéit au même principe que celui d’un voyage en avion: la projection dans le temps. Dans cet exemple, la technologie permet d’accélérer le mouvement afin que l’avion puisse se déplacer d’un bout du monde à un autre, en un laps de temps relativement court. La règle est la même en ce qui concerne le traditionnel, car le diseur d’avenir fait lui aussi appel au principe d’accélération de la vie, afin de pouvoir prédire ce qui va se passer dans les jours ou les mois à venir. Encore une fois, le principe de base reste le même, et la différence n’existe qu’à cause de la longue évolution séparée des civilisations dans le temps. Mais malgré ces différences parfois abyssales dans leurs apparences, l’artiste architecte relativise et démontre qu’à la différence des autres espèces évoluant ou ayant évolué sur la terre depuis le début de la vie, les Hommes ne sont guère soumis au phénomène de spéciation. De ce fait, le code génétique, la souche des humains – partis d’une seule et unique base – reste la même pour tous, quelque soit le mode ou le schéma d’évolution de chaque civilisation. Malgré la durée de leur séparation dans l’espace et dans le temps, les œuvres des Hommes demeurent donc complémentaires, et favorisent -grâce à l’enrichissement de l’échange culturel – l’apprentissage des uns et des autres pour le bien-être de tous. L’œuvre de Ola-Dele Kuku est une construction composée de dessin, d’images, de peinture, de collage, de physique et de chimie. C’est un savant mélange d’abstrait et de concret qui crée une parfaite alchimie dans lequel le fétiche tient une place très importante, et ceci dans chaque étape de la création. L’architecte laisse volontiers de côté, l’aspect rationnel de son travail, pour mettre l’accent sur l’aspect irréel, le côté non tangible de sa création.

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La materialisation de l’irreel dans l’œuvre de Ola-Dele Kuku by Roger Ndema Kingue

Pour Ola-Dele, bien que l’architecture soit construite avec le matériel, l’aspect prédominant demeure dans la philosophie des structures non tangibles tels le temps, l’espace, la symétrie... Dieu (pour ceux qui y croient). Personne ne peut toucher les structures non tangibles, pourtant elles existent bel et bien, et elles sont bien plus fortes, plus présentes et plus rigides que n’importe quelle structure tangible. Ce que l’on perçoit dans l’architecture des bâtiments n’est qu’un infime pourcentage de ce qu’un architecte est capable de réaliser dans l’absolu. En effet, Dieu (créateur des choses visibles et invisibles) lui-même n’est-il pas appelé le Grand architecte?... L’artiste défini son œuvre comme une structure à deux facettes: la tangible et la non tangible (à l’instar des gigantesques structures de l’égypte antique, qui étaient palpables à l’oeil nu, mais dont personne ne pouvait dire avec exactitude comment elles étaient transportées jusqu’ à de telles hauteurs). La réalité de l’art contemporain interpelle et questionne aussi Ola-Dele Kuku, qui se considère avant tout comme un artiste de son époque, moderne, indépendant, curieux et ouvert, mais farouchement non aligné derrière un courant artistique de plus en plus dépendant des règles dictées par les groupes financiers et certains gestionnaires des galeries d’art. L’artiste défend le retour aux sources – le retour à l’origine des constructions anciennes dont le temps n’a toujours pas su effacer la valeur - mais sans pour autant remettre en question le concept d’art contemporain qui se passe avec son époque, qui vit avec son temps, et qui trouve son sens dans la chaleur du contact entre le public et le créateur de l’œuvre.

La materialisation de l’irreel dans l’œuvre de Ola-Dele Kuku by Roger Ndema Kingue

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Bacongo fetish Object

(detail)

(DRC)

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‘Living with the Fates’ – relapse series VI/XII (2003 / 2004) – built image (mixed media on paper) 150 cm x 155 cm

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‘Living with the Fates’ – relapse series X/XII (2003 / 2004) – built image (mixed media on paper) 150 cm x 155 cm

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(detail)

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(detail)

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Dan Mask

Nok terra cotta Object

(Ivory Coast)

(Nigeria)

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Bamileke Mask

‘Living with the Fates’ – relapse series VII/XII (2003 / 2004) – built image (mixed media on paper) 150 cm x 155 cm

(Cameroon)

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Toma Mask

‘Living with the Fates’ – relapse series III/XII (2003 / 2004) – built image (mixed media on paper) 150 cm x 155 cm

(Guinea)

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CONFRONTATION: Philippe Laeremans Gallery – Extraits d’échange de points de vues entre OlaDele Kuku et Philippe Laeremans (collectionneur et responsable d’une galerie d’art traditionnel). DU SYNDROME DE STOCKHOLM... AU SYNDROME DE LIMA La lecture que Ola-Dele Kuku fait de ces œuvres traditionnelles et ancestrales, et le message qu’il veut transmettre, c’est la prise de conscience de la puissance et de l’Histoire incorporée dans ces objets, bien que le contexte soit aujourd’hui complètement différent. Philippe Laeremans qui entame sa deuxième confrontation entre l’art traditionnel et l’art moderne n’est pas à sa première expérience. Son premier essai traitait de la ressemblance qui existait entre les objets de sculptures tribales africaines qui étaient fabriqués depuis une centaine d’années, et des sculptures d’art moderne ou contemporain. La confrontation mettait en exergue l’influence – au niveau de la plastique des objets – de l’art primitif et traditionnel, sur l’art moderne et contemporain. Le promoteur d’art explique l’attrait et la fascination que ces œuvres primitives exercent encore sur le public occidental. Elles ont une sensibilité, une force et un pouvoir facilement perceptible...(c’est d’ailleurs ce qui permet aux véritables connaisseurs de faire la différence entre les vrais et les faux objets). Ces symboles sont des livres qui renferment les secrets de l’Histoire de l’Afrique. Outre le fait d’être des objets de curiosité, qui font rêver, ils sont avant tout des ustensiles vraisemblablement chargés d’émotion, qui ont servi à quelque chose de bien particulier dans l’histoire de ces tribus, mais dont on ignore la réelle symbolique, car les personnes qui leur ont donné une signification à leur découverte n’étaient sûrement pas présentes lors de leur fabrication. Tout ce que l’on sait aujourd’hui de ces œuvres n’est donc finalement que pure interprétation subjective. La conception et la charge émotionnelle intrinsèque et spirituelle que l’on peut donc donner à ces symboles, dépend strictement de l’importance du fantasme ou du degré de croyance et de crédibilité que chacun accorde à la mythologie et à la culture traditionnelle et ancestrale africaine.

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La materialisation de l’irreel dans l’œuvre de Ola-Dele Kuku by Roger Ndema Kingue

Pourtant, Philippe Laeremans souligne toutefois les nombreuses mutations et les décadences qu’ont connu les objets traditionnels africains. Avec l’influence de la colonisation, les symboles de la culture traditionnelle sont devenus décadents, les rituels et les croyances ont été abandonnés, et les objets ont connu de multiples mutations dans l’unique but de satisfaire les besoins du commerce de l’art. Ces représentations – qui n’étaient pas des objets d’art au départ , car c’étaient des symboles fabriqués le plus souvent dans un but spirituel – sont devenues par la force des événements, des objets qualifiés d’œuvres d’art vouées au commerce, et les sculpteurs africains se sont mis à travailler à la commande, pour le compte des colons. Et c’est ainsi que naquit le business de l’art africain. Ola-Dele souligne quant à lui, l’importance de l’absence des signatures sur les représentations symboliques et les constructions de plusieurs civilisations antiques, tels les Romains, les Egyptiens, etc. Ces objets et ces structures n’étaient pas réalisés dans un but commercial, mais simplement pour jouer un rôle préalablement défini pour l’équilibre social de ces civilisations. Finalement pour Ola-Dele Kuku comme pour Philippe Laeremans, l’art primitif africain et l’art moderne et contemporain sont absolument indissociables, compte tenu de l’influence active et l’apport du premier sur le second. La vision des artistes tel Pablo Picasso et leur emprunt à l’art primitif ont été déterminants dans cette démarche. Cette nouvelle orientation permet au peintre de multiplier les points de vue et de proposer dans un seul tableau plusieurs facettes d’une même œuvre. A titre d’exemple, l’un des plus célèbres tableaux du plus grand ambassadeur du mouvement “Dada”, “Les demoiselles d’Avignon”, qui marque le point de départ et la reconnaissance du cubisme. Le succès indiscutable de ces compositions métisses et la renommée de leurs auteurs font qu’aujourd’hui, les œuvres qui étaient rejetées par les impérialistes sont actuellement prisées par les collectionneurs d’art traditionnel et moderne, qui se sont fixé l’honorable mission de montrer au plus large public que l’art africain traditionnel est indubitablement une des principales sources d’inspiration de l’art moderne et de l’art contemporain.

La materialisation de l’irreel dans l’œuvre de Ola-Dele Kuku by Roger Ndema Kingue

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p. 136

Ibibio Mask

Benin ivory Mask

(Nigeria)

(Nigeria)

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Bacongo fetish Object

(detail)

(DRC)

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Ogoni brass Object

(detail)

(Nigeria)

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Teke Object

Teke Object

(DRC)

(DRC)

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However, at very lucky moments, especially in writers and visual artists, both Agwu oji and Agwu ocha manifest simultaneously and in balance, at the time of creative production. In certain finished works, this intrusion of both Agwu ocha and Agwu Oji is very clear to see or to feel. Contemporary examples abound in art galleries, books, films, music. Some instances come to mind: the entire oeuvre of Almodovar for instance. House of Hunger by Dambudzo Marechera , the tormented Zimbabwean writer1; !irteen Cents by the young South African writer, K. Sello Duiker;2 the works of Roald Dahl. $e Artist tormented by Agwu Ocha and who has Agwu Oji fighting his corner, in equilibrium, at the same time can channel his torments into products that are worthy of the gods. It is perhaps the presence of this balance that differentiates the masters, the gurus of the Arts from the ordinary. All artists, regardless of their standing carry the responsibility of creating order. And where there is an imbalance, restoring order. While art, like the lesser gods, in itself is powerful, the ultimate power lies in the artist who calls it into being, who interprets it as he is moved, and who has the power to destroy it. It is in these that not just the relevance, but indeed the divinity of the artist lies.

‘Six Dots’ Collective Representation Series 2008 / 2009 Video stills (digital print on polyester) 120 cm x 400 cm

1

In this book and in interviews, Marechera o!en revises the facts of his life. He suggests that his father was either run over by “a 20th century train” or “came home with a knife sticking from his back” or “was found in the hospital mortuary with his body riddled with bullets”. All false. $is brilliant novella is characterized by shi!s in time and place and a blurring of fantasy and reality, and when it appeared in 1978 was hailed as visionary. $at choice of word is significant. His brother Michael , to explain his erratic behaviour suggests that Dambudzo was a victim a curse. While at Oxford University, his professors described him as brilliant, anarchic, a student who refused to stick to the syllabi but made up his own. He tried once to set a school building on fire. $e school psychologist diagnosed him with schizophrenia. Any Igbo would have observed that this young man was possessed by Agwu. 2 Sello Duiker suffered very o!en from depression and committed suicide , by hanging himself at 31. he had by that time won prizes for his books.

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Nothing, Chaos and (Calling to) Order By Chika Unigwe

p. 145


in Fall Out (2003-2004) the damage has already been done. there is still a relation to the other works, but disintegration is complete. we see the ruins of a culture, the collapsed cathedrals of escher. there lies a certain sense of release in this series, but the freedom gained is of a suffocating kind. the fever was lowered but the threat remains. the evolution theory. it is also of great importance in religion. there are ample ween the Creator and His creation. it started with adam and eve who came to be region not originally theirs. and there is the idea that god has created us all with many differences, not in harmony but with inherited friction towards each other. in the series Noah’s Grief (1998-1999) investigates the hesitation of the ark builder who was confronted with a natural disaster of unseen size, but also with a crucial inventiveness and innovation. noah must have built a super machine, a technologically and organisationally ingenious system. From here back to the challenges of emergency architecture in war situations or ecologic disaster areas: it is not that great a leap. after the series on noah and the exploration of a biblical theme, Ola-Dele Kuku seems to increasingly grow detached from the practical, earthly and clumsy huradical forces within that existence. time, for instance, or change. He aims his gaze to the open space above all those babbling heads. this particular development within his oeuvre is not at all a linear movement. it may be interpreted as a return to the early period of the Celestial Mechanics. it is how the artist sees it himself: he literally speaks of a ‘Relapse Series’. it is precisely this returning to or the reworking of themes that explains why he always makes series of drawings. Ola-Dele Kuku describes it as parallel possibilities of ‘multiple histories’. Various plot lines are possible, the story can be unravelled in different ways: that’s why we can practise our free will. to the artist, the various

‘Six Dots’ Series I (2008 / 2009) – Video stills (digital print on polyester) 120 cm x 400 cm

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O l a - D e l e K u K u D r a w i n g s a n D B u i l t i m a g e s By Sara Weyns

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p. 148 p. 149

‘Six Dots’ Series II (2008 / 2009) – Video stills (digital print on polyester) 120 cm x 400 cm


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‘Six Dots’ Series III (2008 / 2009) – Video stills (digital print on polyester) 120 cm x 400 cm


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De reeksen tekeningen met de titels Aftermath en Fall Out een consistent geheel. associaties met de daken van een township of favella gereerd wordt in Freedom van Jonathan Franzen (2010) dringt zich op: we willen

‘Vocabulary of Motives’ 2008 / 2010

gelaagdheid van de tekening toont ons het palimpsest van het landschap: een

zichtbaar. Op andere plekken wordt de leesbaarheid verhinderd, is het verhaal eye view, het perspectief van onze verbeelding. Je kan de werken echter ook verof een stad, dichtgebouwd met wolkenkrabbers. Op die manier roepen ze een voor ons veel herkenbaardere westerse manier van leven op. een manier van de maakbare samenleving, of de stilte voor de storm. in Fall Out (2003-2004) is de schade geleden. er is een verwantschap met de ken van een cultuur, de ingestorte kathedralen van escher. er zit een zekere ont-

ningsverschil de eerste emigranten werden, de eerste bezetters van een gebied dat niet hun land van oorsprong was. en er is de idee dat god ons allemaal anten opzichte van elkaar. in de reeks Noah’s Grief van de arkbouwer die zich geconfronteerd zag met een natuurramp van onmemoet een supermachine gebouwd hebben, een technologisch en organisatorisch zeer complex systeem. Van hier terug naar de uitdagingen van noodarchitectuur in oorlogssituaties of ecologische rampgebieden is niet zo’n grote sprong

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Ol a-D el e Ku Ku t e Ken i ngen en geBOuw De Beel Den By Sara Weyns

p. 159


Kuku zich steeds verder te onthechten van de praktische, aardse, morsige mens. De taak van de architect is niet in de eerste plaats een huis of een muur te bouboven al die taterende hoofden. Celestial Mechanics. Relapse Series’. Het terugkeren of herwerken van een thema verklaart trouwens waarom het telkens om een kunnen uitoefenen. De verschillende tekeningen binnen één reeks tonen voor de kunstenaar de beschikbaarheid van die verschillende opties. verschillen tussen mensen maakten zo nieuwsgierig, dat die mensen de mens wilde bestuderen. Daarmee werd de wetenschap geboren, maar ook het occulte. “De droom van de rede heeft monsters gebaard” en in dit geval mogen we

hebben. De serie Living with the Fates (2003–2004) was een eerste exploratie zo anders dan wat een architect doet. Het lot of de muzen liggen aan de bron -

bevolkingsgroepen, een maansikkel en zespuntige ster evenzeer. een teken gaat teert. Ola-Dele Kuku heeft nu helemaal de blik op de hemel gericht. in de series Six Dots (2008-2009) en Vocabulary of Motives voorplan die in eerdere reeksen al aanwezig waren als één laag tussen andere. ning die we kunnen interpreteren en die ons inzicht geeft in een megastructuur. in Six Dots slaat de kunstenaar een brug tussen de sterrenhemel en het brailvan de rechten van de mens uit in braille en presenteert het als het uitspansel. -

‘Vocabulary of Motives’ – series IV – I/VI (2010) drawing (ink on paper) A3 format

geen enkele garantie.

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Ol a-D el e Ku Ku t e Ken i ngen en geBOuw De Beel Den By Sara Weyns

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came so curious of the differences between one another, they decided to study The sleep of reason produces monsters literally: from the crib of science have sprung fetishes and demons as well. it is a powerful sphere the artist is fascinated by because the use of symbols – signs or drawings – is expected to have very real and tangible consequences. the series Living with the Fates brings together the material and the immaterial to direct a life, to intervene. For are at the source of innumerable signs and symbols designed for only that one purpose: to direct faith, or at least to intervene. think of the zodiac signs. Before allowing us to discard it all as superstition, the artist provides us with some examples of reactions to religious symbols: a cross will evoke a certain reaction from people within a certain culture, as do the crescent moon and the hexagram. a symbol will actually work as a mechanism, as something real invoking a real effect. Ola-Dele Kuku has now directed his gaze to the sky completely. in the series Six Dots (2008-2009) and Vocabulary of Motives (2010) the star maps that were already present in previous series as one layer between others, now play a key part. the system of tiny dots of light on a black surface is a system that we understand all too well. those are no random dots. it is a matrix or – again – a drawing that we can interpret and gives us some insight in a mega structure. in Six Dots the artist builds a bridge between the nightly sky and the Braille system: they function as metaphors for each other. On the one hand he writes the univerother hand he presents the stars as a scripture, a handwriting that can be deciphered. Or not. Because this deciphering – and insight – is not at all guaranteed.

‘Agenda Setting’ – deviant amplification (2008) installation 220 cm x 480 cm

p. 162

O l a - D e l e K u K u D r a w i n g s a n D B u i l t i m a g e s By Sara Weyns

p. 163


‘Vocabulary of Motives’ series IV – V/VI (2010) drawing (ink on paper) A3 format

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‘Agenda Setting’ – deviant amplification (2008) installation 220 cm x 480 cm

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(detail)

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‘Vocabulary of Motives’ series IV – III/VI (2010) drawing (ink on paper) A3 format

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(detail)

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‘Vocabulary of Motives’ – series IV – II/VI (2010) drawing (ink on paper) A3 format

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(detail)

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AGBALOGBABO (conclusion) Ni akotan, bi a ba wo asa ati ise ile Yoruba, a o ri pe pupo lara gbogbo ohun ti o n fun awon ayaworan, osere, akewi, akewi ibile, akowe igba lode awon onise-ona on olokan-o-jo’kan ni iwuri iyanju lati inu asa ati ise abinibi ile Yoruba. Awon wonyii ni awujo sororo, won a ma ronu jinle ki won to gbe ise won jade. Arojinle po fun won debi pe won a ma fe ki, agbejade ipari ise won ma kun fun ewa ti ko labawon. Bi akewi ba n kewi, a fe lo gbogbo ewa ede to n mu ki ewi dun-un gbo leti, bee ni osere ori-itage, awon naa a ma lo orisi ona lati rii pe won gbe ogo asa ibile Yoruba yo ninu ere ti won ban se. Awon ayaworan paapaa a ma lo awon nnkan abinibi won, ti o wa ni ayika ayaworan eni ba ni ijinle lo le tu itumo aworan

eniyan tabi ijoba wi lori iwa ibaje ti won n hu si awon ara ilu won. Awon onise-ona lagbaye,

Idowu, Bolaji. Olodumare:

RE F E R E NC E S 1976 Ifa: An Exposition of Ifa Literary Corpus. Ibadan: Oxford University Press. Ali, S.A. 1995. The Yoruba Conception of Destiny: A Critical Analysis. Journal of Philosophy and Development

vol. 1, no.4, June 2006

p. 172

ilu. Olorun lo fun won ni imo ati aifoya lati gbe ogo ebun abimo won jade. Lara awon ti mo mo daju daju ti o feran ati ma lo awon ohun ijinle ayaworan ile-kiko, Oladele Kuku. Oladele Kuku je omo Yoruba gidigidi to ni okan lile nipa asa ati jinle abinibi ile Yoruba. Oruko baba re tii se Kuku je okan lara awon akoni ti o ti wa nile Yoruba ti o se gudugudu meje ohun yaya mefa. Idile oloruko nla ni ayaworan Oladele Kuku ti wa, omo nibi niran si ni. Ko je iya lenu fun mi lati ri wi pe gbogbo ise re n dale ri awamaridi ijinle ile aye. Eni ti o ba ni arojinle ati ebun abimo ni o le se iru ise bayii, daju daju, ayaworan Oladele Kuku ni a ba ma pe ni alarojinle ara.

A Philosophical Analysis of the

Human Destiny: A Fatalistic

God in Yoruba Belief,

Yoruba Concept of ‘Ori’ and

Interpretation. Journal of

London: Macmillan, 1986.

Human Destiny. International

Philosophy and Development 2

Yorùbá Proverbs, Names and National Consciousness By Gbenga Fasiku Department of Philosophy 129 Nordic Journal of African Studies Hospers, J. 1981. An Introduction to Philosophical

1&2(1): 100–106. Journal of Pan African Studies,

ise a ma dabi petepete, eni to bad a ba ko ma binu ni. Nigba miiran, won a ma se nnkan ti

Analysis. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Studies in Philosophy XVII (1): 50–66. Morakinyo, O. 1983. The Yoruba Ayanmo Myth and mental Health-Care in West Africa. Journal of Culture and Ideas 1

(1&2): 40–52. Oladipo, S. 1992. Predestination in Yoruba Thought: Philosopher’s Interpretation. 1975 Iwapele: The Concept of

(1): 68–79. Nelson, K. 1971.

Corpus. In: W. Abimbola

Oduwole, E.O. (1996).

(ed.), Yoruba Oral Tradition,

The Yoruba Concepts of ‘Ori’ and

ERO INU LORI EYA ARA ( THE ANATOMY OF THOUGHT ) by F. Kehinde Oluyadi

‘Cosmos Unexplained’ I (2000) – built image (mixed media on paper) 50 cm x 70 cm

Good Character in Ifa Literary

pp. 389–420. Ibadan:

p. 173


Biography RO GER L. ND EMA KIN G UE Roger L. Ndéma Kingué possède un baccalauréat en philosophie et lettres, qu’il a obtenu au terme de ses études dans son pays d’origine, le Cameroun en 1989. Après quelques années passées dans l’univers de la production des oeuvres musicales il se lance dans le journalisme à titre indépendant et crée le magazine «Nubians», et en 2011, il crée le site internet «Kizzy medias» dont il est le rédacteur en chef. Il a inspiré et collaboré à l’écriture de plusieurs livres: La fabuleuse histoire du caftan, Les us et coutumes du mariage, etc... et a écrit les scénarios des films: «Les Glandeurs» et «Fashion victim» (productions en cours). Roger L. Ndéma Kingué travaille aussi dans une AMO (Animation en Milieu Ouvert) où il occupe la fonction d’éducateur.

F. K EHIND E O LUYA D I F. Kehinde Oluyadi attended University of Lagos Akoka Lagos, and holds B.A. (Hons), M,A. degrees in Yoruba philosophy and literature. She also has postgraduate degree in Public Administration. Her thesis was on ‘Alarogun Kan ni’le Yoruba’ – Diakoni Modupe Alade, she has dissertation for her Masters of Arts in Yoruba on, ‘The Concept of Money in Yoruba Literature Life and Thoughts’. She is a Substitute Tutor in New Jersey and also lectures on the basic knowledge in Yoruba Language, ‘Oriki and Ifa Literary Corpus‘. Her latest article written unpublished is on ‘Concept of Human Anatomy in Yoruba Literature, Life and Thoughts. She resides in New Jersey, USA with her family.

PHIL IPP E LA ER EM ANS (gallery owner / collector) Philippe Laeremans Gallery is considered as one of the foremost galleries of African traditional art in Brussels. He is also a prominent curator and consultant in African traditional art objects.

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C H I KA U N I G W E Chika Unigwe holds degrees from the University of Nigeria and the KU Leuven. She earned her PhD from the University of Leiden. Her latest novel is On Black Sisters Street (Random House, NY 2011, Jonathan Cape and Vintage, London, 2009, 2010). Nightdancer will be published in June 2012. Both books are also available in Dutch from Manteau/ Meulenhoff and De Bezijge Bij Antwerpen respectively. She has written columns for the UK Guardian and De Standaard. She lives with her family in Turnhout.

SA R A W E Y N S Sara Weyns graduated form the University of Antwerp, Belgium, where she is presently a tutor and research assistant in the Department of Management, (Faculty of Applied Economic Sciences) – working on a PhD in Cooperate Social Responsibility. She is currently the curator at Stad Antwerpen, and the exhibition curator at the Middelheim Museum in Antwerp.

T HE VA N MA RA D I A RT FOU N DAT I ON (for cancer research programmes) The Van Maradi Foundation is a new Brussels / Lomé based foundation dedicated to cancer research programmes. The patrons comprise of artists, medical doctors, art galleries, medical institutions and private professionals. The foundation’s main objective is to engage in fund raising activities (through art exhibitions and specific collaborations with artists), for cancer research programmes in Europe and Africa. The foundation is working in collaboration with the ‘CANCEART INITIATIVE’ proposal by Ola-Dele Kuku Projects (2012–2014).

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CREDITS

‘Cosmos Unexplained’ / ‘Fracas’ / ‘Aftermath’ / ‘Noah’s Grief’ / ‘Fall Out’ ‘Chance Happening’ / ‘Termination Rituals’ / ‘Relative Options’ / ‘Living with the Fates’ – relapse series / ‘Six Dots’ / ‘Vocabulary of Motives’ Photo by Chris Weiner ‘Celestial Mechanics’ / ‘Living with the Fates’ Photo by Maarten Strack Van Schijndel Coverpage Photo by Titi-Lola Kuku African Traditional Objects p. 118 / 122 / 138 / 128 / 132 / 142 / 143 Private Collection Philippe Laeremans Gallery p. 129 / 130 / 136 / 137 / 140 Van Maradi Foundation Design and typesetting Wilfrieda Paessens, B-Ghent All rights reserved to © 2012 Ola-Dele Kuku Projects. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any other information storage and retrieval system without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Printed by drukkerij Geers Offset nv, Ghent Copyright © 2012 Ola-Dele Kuku www.ola-delekuku.com



Ola-Dele Kuku - Speaking In Vernacular