Temple Muse is proud to present STASIS, an exhibition of recent works by Djakou Kassi Nathalie, Olawunmi Banjo, and Kelechi Nwaneri, curated by Sandra Mbanefo Obiago, SMO Contemporary Art.
“STASIS is an exhibition of recent works by Djakou Kassi Nathalie, Olawunmi Banjo, and Kelechi Nwaneri, who touch an existential raw nerve as they explore our yearning for balance and belonging in an ever changing physical and emotional landscape.”
Sandra Mbanefo Obiago, Curator
Dilemma, Acrylic, charcoal, watercolor and pencil on Bristol Strathmore paper, 106 x 119 cm, 2019, Kelechi Nwaneri
“Through detailed paintings, intense drawings, and voluminous ceramic works, they take us on a journey of discovery, as each artist grapples with their concept of stasis and how to achieve equilibrium in our conscious and subconscious mind.”
Powerful Nature, glazed and polished clay, 42 x 34 x 31 cm, 2019, Nathalie Djakou Kassi
“STASIS explores our ability to achieve balance despite societal pressures, mental health challenges, and the effects of climate change on our wellbeing. Each artist explores the struggle between our inner and outer worlds and creates a path to a deepened sense of self awareness and identity.”
Sense of Self III, Oil on canvas, 122 x 101 cm, 2018, Olawunmi Banjo
EXTRACTS: A REFLECTION ON STASIS
By Bianca Ama Manu, Curator Nubuke Foundation
The trio meditates on surviving within a context that continually challenges their mental and social stability. How can you reconcile the conflict between societal standards, cultural expectations, and a desire to focus on priorities and practice? How do you cultivate when confronted by challenges that stifle expression?
STASIS epitomizes this tension. Derived from the Greek στάσις, it often refers to a state of stillness and stability created when all opposing forces become equal: a standstill. Each artist articulates this contention through their various mediums of ceramic, charcoal and canvas.
Kelechi Nwaneri’s surreal works have connotations of mythologies and folklore, merging traditional west African Adinkra symbology with Indonesian-inspired Dutch wax prints. The colour palette of monochromatic greys, white and black hues punctuated with scarlet reds, sky blues and verdant greens is both conflicting yet charming.
Carry You Home, Acrylic, oil, charcoal, pencil on canvas, 121 x 123 cm, 2019, Kelechi Nwaneri
Broken, Acrylic and charcoal on Bristol Strathmore paper, 106 x 119 cm, 2019, Kelechi Nwaneri
Meanwhile, Nathalie Djakou Kassi’s ceramics are preoccupied with experimenting with malleability. Her works exist as sculptures, utilitarian shapes and reflections of political, cultural and current affairs around the world. Kassi’s works are informed by news.
Family Texture I, Naked Clay, 59 x 33 cm, 33 x 28 cm, 26 x 20cm, 2019, Nathalie Djakou Kassi
Over thinking, Glazed Clay, 30 x 30 cm, 2019, Nathalie Djakou Kassi
In contrast with Kassi’s discontent with humanity’s regression, Olawunmi Banjo is more optimistic and hopeful for human enlightenment and elevation. Banjo’s acrylic paintings are alluring and illustrate predominately female forms in flux. The tension of their movements is painted in a dream-like state, with muted blood reds, opulent oranges and ivy greens lacing each work. Every meticulously painted strand celebrates the ephemerality of human nature and movement, as well as the tension and tendons of the physical body in search of something intangible and otherworldly inviting you to follow each line as they shift and shape into ambitious positions.
Lifted, Oil on canvas, 122 x 92 cm, 2019, Olawunmi Banjo
Inner Peace, Oil on canvas, 91 x 101 cm, 2019, Olawunmi Banjo
Despite Nwaneri, Kassi and Banjo’s different mediums, they each provide a nuanced interpretation of the tension that is STASIS and unpack the contradiction of a word that encapsulates both passivity and action, stability and disintegration.
In his own words
“My work is born out of the desire to represent the quiet interaction between our conscious and subconscious state of mind in relation to our environment. I believe that everything in our lives dances to the vibrations of the subconscious.”
Battle Within, Battle Within, Acrylic, charcoal, pencil, watercolour on canvas, 145 x 162 cm, 2019, Kelechi Nwaneri
“A major feature of this pencil and charcoal series is the ‘Black Figure’, which is usually clad with symbols and motifs. These figures are inspired by the idea of scars and tribal marks which represent our subconscious state. I use primarily West African iconography, mainly Adinkra, Uli, & Nsibidi symbols, as well as the lines and patterns found in Adire fabric, to create forms and figures which I draw alongside realistic subjects and serene settings, creating a surreal landscape.”
Blue, Acrylic and charcoal on Bristol Strathmore paper, 106 x 119 cm, 2019, Kelechi Nwaneri
“I create allegorical scenes which touch on mental health and social values, telling stories borne out of true experiences. The paintings I create explore scenes from my imagination, which I do my best to paint as vividly as I saw them.”
Time, People & Change II, Acrylic, oil, charcoal, pencil on canvas, 42 x 60 cm, 2019, Kelechi Nwaneri
DJAKOU KASSI NATHALIE
In her own words
My art is inspired by my passion for the environment, which started during my childhood growing up in Cameroon. I loved to play and manipulate different natural materials and used to experiment with clay, wood, copper and plaster. I love clay, because it allows me to imagine and travel through a world of lines and volume. I like to take risks, and explore my dreams, vision and feelings through this amazing material.
Family Texture II, Naked clay, 58 x 14 cm, 53 x 14 cm, 29 x 14cm, 2019, Nathalie Djakou Kassi
Even though I often create utilitarian shapes, I see my works as sculptures. I like to explore and broaden the scope of ceramics, taking it beyond craft and mere decoration. Art is the universe for me, full of mysterious surprises. Art has no limits; it is made up of beautiful accidents leading to amazing innovations.
Selfie IV, Glazed Clay, 23 x 24 cm, 2019, Nathalie Djakou Kassi
In her own words
In this new digital age, it is easy to lose our identity because of the distractions we feed our minds and seeking for external validation from others’ opinions. All of this makes us feel pressured which has resulted in a higher rate of depression, low self-esteem, and even suicide across the world.
Recess, Oil on canvas, 56 x 71 cm, 2016, Olawunmi Banjo
Sense of Self II, Oil on canvas, 122 x 101 cm, 2018, Olawunmi Banjo
We go in search of something to fill the emptiness; some of us find security in different ideologies like ancient teachings, traditions, religions, nature or science. Most of what we look to have the same hidden truth: “What you seek is within you”. The moment of realization reveals the energy we hold within us and knowing that your higher self is within you. Not knowing our potential only makes us wander. We embrace who we are when we have a balanced sense of self and experience the world without losing touch with who we truly are. We can only help others if we first learn to help ourselves and knowing the boundless energy, we hold within helps us to experience the true nature of existence and the happiness, peace, love, equality and freedom it holds.
Sway, Oil on canvas, 56 x 71 cm, 2016, Olawunmi Banjo
STASIS opens this Saturday, 31 August at Temple Muse