Black Art Studio - fine African textiles and contemporary art


The most recent development in the art of adire is "adire batik" in which a wax resist is used to create  designs on cloth rather than the traditional starch resist. Procion dyes were also introduced for an expanded color palette. 

An innovative group of artists working in the town of Oshogbo during the 1960's and '70's created a contemporary expression of Yoruba folk art that came to be known as the "Oshogbo Art".  Coincidentally Oshogbo was a center of adire production and marketing.  Several of the earliest Oshogbo artists turned to the adire tradition for materials, methods, and inspiration.   


Kikelomo is the daughter of brass caster Jinadu Oladepo who was also identified with the Oshogbo movement.  Kikelomo used traditional adire indigo dye and design methods and introduced narrative elements and a new drawing style to her work.
Hand painted, starch resist, indigo dyed mini dress by Kikelomo Oladepo, circa 1975.  She used traditional Yoruba adire methods and materials to realize a new style of art.
Kikelomo Oladepo with Suzanne Wenger, in Wenger's house, Oshogbo, 2004
Suzanne Wenger was an Austrian artist who lived in Oshogbo from the early 1950's until she passed away in 2011.  She was known primarily as an architect and sculptor for her work on the shrines in the sacred grove along the Oshun River. She was also an accomplished batik artist and introduced the wax resist method to some of the Oshogbo artists. This is a detail from a very large batik by Ms. Wenger that illustrates the story of the Yoruba gods Obatala and Sapona.
collection of Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem NC
photo by Juliet Highet
Nike apprenticed in the studio of Twins Seven Seven in the late 1960's where she learned drawing and the narrative style pioneered by the Oshogbo artists.  Her first independent works were executed on cloth using the traditional adire starch resist method she had learned as a child from her great grandmother. 
"Sun & Moon", a starch resist, indigo dyed wall hanging by Nike, circa 1971

The dark background color is indigo from an adire dyepot.  The lighter blue of the figures is the color  of the cotton broadcloth ground.  Nike was already searching for ways to incorporate more colors into her work than the simple two tones of indigo in traditional adire.  Her drawing is influenced by her teacher, Twins Seven Seven but she includes a bird figure from the adire lexicon and the stars are similar to traditional adire figures.
 

Nike at the adire dye pot in Oshogbo circa 1972

Nike maintains that she did not learn wax resist from anyone else but that her change of medium came from a happy accident.   When working on a wall hanging by candlelight late one night, a bit of wax fell unnoticed onto the cloth.  After the piece came out of the indigo, she saw that the wax had formed a very effective resist.  She began to experiment and soon acquired a reputation as an original and gifted batik artist.
Within a few years, Nike was producing large, masterful wall hangings in multiple colors using a wax resist.  She invented a versatile "brush" cut from pillow foam that she used to apply the wax resist with fine detail. To stay within the adire cultural tradition, Nike continued to take her work to the aladura in Oshogbo for the last dip in indigo dye to create the dark background that characterizes most of her batik. 

This large piece was shown at a one person show at the Greater Denton Art Council Gallery in Denton, Texas in 1982.
"The Acrobat" 1981   36"x 72"


The work of Nike and Kikelomo and other Oshogbo artists took the Yoruba adire tradition of indigo dyeing into new realms of artistic expression.  The cultural roots of these contemporary Nigerian artists go deep into adire, the traditional art of Yoruba women.
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