Outside the ‘hallowed’ space of the academic environment, Layiwola’s mastery of native visual cultural contents formed the crux of her solo exhibition at the premier fashion home, Ashluxury, Lekki, Lagos.
Tagged ‘Indigo Re-imagined’, the book launch and exhibition which took place on Thursday, December 15, 2022, brought together practitioners from the academic community fashion, textiles, and creative sectors.
The event which was all about arts provided a platform for the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Development Services), Professor Ayodele Atsenuwa to express the University’s delight at being part of the exhibition from its conceptualization through actualization down to dissemination by providing institutional support to a staff of the University. In her words “We are excited that our Institute of African and Diaspora Studies (IADS) published this invaluable text that brings together the works of several scholars from around the globe through a grant from the Africa Multiple Research project of the University of Bayreuth. For us, this is a strong statement in decoloniality. It is a statement about being in control of the knowledge we produce from our space”
The Book Reviewer, Professor Lawrence Olanrele Bamidele (LOB) of the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Ibadan, described the book as an intellectual appraisal of Professor Peju Layiwola’s 2019 solo exhibition in Nigeria.
According to him, “the book brings together the authoritative views of art historians, literary critics and other informed observers who encountered the exhibition over two years ago at two venues – with the physical event at the gallery enclosures of the University of Lagos on Lagos Mainland and Alara on the Island, while many others experienced it in virtual spaces and other media platforms”.
The renowned Professor of Art Literature posited that Prof. Layiwola has been able to revisit the indigenous clothing tradition of dyed fabrics known as adire in south-western Nigeria. He enumerated that the designs peculiar to adire, particularly when they are in shades and hues of blues are commonly used across generations of indigenous textile artists. His words “For Indigo Reimagined, appropriating adire into functional objects, wall pieces and installations expands the scope in appreciation of the ancient hand-made clothing design”.
Prof. Bamidele posited that quite a number of the exhibits delve into metaphor of Yoruba idiom such as Atewo lara; owo eni kii tan ni je, while another series highlight cultural value like aso ibora. He also pointed out that the artist’s love for Oja Oje, in Ibadan, one of the oldest fabric markets in Southwest, gets quite a number of attention in some of the works within thematic contexts.
Earlier, MD Ashcorp Luxury Projects Limited, Yinka Ash noted that it was a priviledge to partner with Professor Layiwola whose works, mostly in the critical visual context of appropriating native subjects, have brought freshness into 21st-century art appreciation.
Professor Ayo Yussuf, the first Research Professor at the Institute of Diaspora Studies, University of Lagos who represented the Director, Institute of African and Diaspora Studies, remarked that the success of the exhibition in 2019 is a blend and consolidation of the ‘town and gown’ relationship in especially as it tells story of Art from the space of theory to the site of practical usage.
According to him, Prof. Laywiola extensive scholarly works on ancient Benin art to the current show about indigenous fabric adire, has received support from the Institute and her mastery of native African contents keep soaring. He affirmed that her works are conceptual, yet tactical, engagement with cloth compels the viewer to look at the often neglected but important aspects involved in the process of this long-standing tradition of indigo dyeing.”
Among the crème de le crème guests at the event is wife of poet and dramatist, John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo, Prof.(Mrs) Ebun Clark; veteran printmaker, painter and sculptor, Pa Bruce Onobrakpeya; renowned Graphic Artist and owner of the first printing press in the Nigeria, Pa Jerome Elaiho; English Professor and Editor of the book, Professor Patrick Oloko; Lara Ige, recipient of the largest Art collectors in Africa, Omooba Yemisi Shyllon; painters, Edosa Ogiugo and Bolaji Ogunwo; Aderinsola Ajao from Swiss Arts; and creative director and head designer of the Beampeh brand and a multifaceted, fashion guru, Adebimpe Adebambo as well as the husband of the Artist, Professor Dele Layiwola; and many others.
In her appreciation remarks, Professor Layiwola thanked everyone for their show of support. She revealed that apart from the value in art appreciation that gets popular attention, her collections also highlight the critical areas of process in creating art.
A Professor of Art History, Peju Layiwola’s Arts is partly weaned on the tutelage of her mother Princess Elizabeth Olowu, the daughter of a former Benin monarch, Oba Akenzua II – and by her studies in art history. Her latest exhibition brings together her overall experience and engagement with the cloth “Adire”.