kó launches its inaugural exhibition by Kadara Enyeasi, titled Is it not enough for the sea to be beautifuL?
Enyeasi’s newest body of work uses the ocean as a metaphor to interrogate emotions of introspection, identity and regret. The exhibition’s premise is based on a poem by Chinua Achebe, Afternoon Raid, in which two friends are separated by a fatal air raid while trying to reach one another from across the road. Written at the height of the Nigerian Civil War, the poem highlights the angst of separation that occurs with immense conflict and turmoil. Enyeasi transforms the setting of the road for that of the sea, creating a series of mixed media works that construct a narrative of alienation and loss.
Enyeasi explains, “The sympathy between men shared in such tumultuous circumstance can be likened to two people separated by any number of obstacles. Two blood relatives, two lovers, two friends, two strangers. A forest, a desert, a mountain range, the sea. As with ‘Afternoon Raid’, one person is engulfed by death while the other is left behind, watching. He is much too slow.”
The exhibition includes painting, sculpture, photography, collage and audio installation. Kadara creates colorfield paintings, forming abstract monotone canvases that reflect a meditative study of color. As the ocean represents calm, serenity and an intuitive state of peace, it also represents the full expanse of human emotions.
Text detail from Pastoral I & II, dye, ink, acrylic and gold leaf on canvas.
Introducing poetry as an important element in this new body of work, Enyeasi embosses text as a deep relief etching on handmade paper. The project includes sculptural works that evoke geometric abstraction, with spheres formed from Plaster of Paris and concrete slabs that suggest Morse-like codes. The exhibition also includes photographic images and collages that take on sculptural depth as three-dimensional objects, presented with freestanding frames or through light-boxes. Kadara blurs the photographic image of the nude figure in the light-box, achieving a painterly quality in its concealment.
Inspired by Japanese anime, Kadara created the character of Midori, an animated figure that has become a reoccurring element in his work. Midori is based on a bronze seated figure found in a publication of Nigerian sculptures by Bernard Fagg. In this new iteration, Kadara presents the origin story of Midori, seated atop a soft cloud above the ocean, surrounded by cranes and finding his way.
The metaphor of the ocean as a space of separation has blatant political associations, conjuring images of migrants and casualties at sea. His use of oil company logos allude to the political dominance of multi-national corporations. The metaphor of the sea is also is a pertinent message for our current pandemic, which has left us in an uncertain purgatory of isolation. For Kadara, It is a deeply personal exercise, but also one that is innately universal. Kadara ponders how we lose ourselves in relationships, and the inevitable passing of time and opportunity.