Fascinated with lines, Ayobola Kekere-Ekun (b.1993) transforms paper – often seen as a a common, neutral, unassuming material – into wholly fresh formations with a technique called quilling. Each strip of paper is individually shaped, placed and secured to capture pockets of light and shadow. Gradually, Ayobola’s lines create personalities and stories. Methodical and labour-intensive, a single piece can take her three to seven weeks to complete.
Constantly experimenting with materials, Ayobola sees the intricacy of her work as a visual metaphor for the complexity of her chosen subject matter. “I find it intriguing how lines, a basic component of complex forms, can be so ambiguously loaded with meaning. A line can connect and separate, enclose and exclude, direct and mis-direct, all at the same time.”
Ayobola’s work explores gender, mythology, power and social structures, informed by personal experiences and observations. In her series, “E no concern me”, she references a Nigerian vernacular phrase which roughly translates to “It’s none of my concern” or “It’s not my problem”. Reflecting on socio-economic inequality in Nigeria, this series highlights how the privileged can detach themselves from the harsh realities of living and working in contemporary Nigeria. This false reality is symbolized by expensive, branded junk food and its position as a ‘status symbol’.
Sumptuous and enticing icecreams, lollies and bubblegum abound, to be consumed by poised, nonchalant women who often wear headphones, perhaps symbolic of their deafness to their surrounds. Junk food consumerism becomes an indirect mode of the privileged expressing that society’s problems are “not theirs”.
Ayobola’s work has been exhibited in several group shows in Lagos, as well as at ArtX Lagos in 2018. Her first solo exhibition, “Resilient Lines”, will open at Rele Gallery, Lagos in March 2019. The exhibition is supported by a grant awarded by the Dean Collection, a contemporary art collection created by Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz (Kasseem Dean).
She holds a BA (Hons) in Visual Arts and an MA (Hons) in Graphic Design from University of Lagos. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Art and Design at the University of Johannesburg, examining advertising campaigns, place-branding and visual codes deployed by the Lagos state government.
Exhibitions, Awards & Collections
2018 Artyrama, ArtX, Lagos
2017 Artyrama Launch Exhibition (Group Show), Lagos
2017 Idanimo (Group Show) Terrakulture Gallery, Lagos
2017 In Honour of Professor Bolanle Awe (Group Show) Museum of the Institute of Africa Studies, University of Ibadan.
2017 Her Story (Group Show) Rele Gallery, Lagos
2016 Dysmorphia & Other Thoughts (Joint Show) Ake Arts and Book Festival
2016 Life in my City Art Festival Enugu, Nigeria
2016 SAO and The Muse (Group Show) SAO Cafe, Lagos
2016 Young Contemporaries (Group Show) Rele Gallery, Lagos