Arena for Contemporary African, African-American and Caribbean Art

Oluseye, Nigeria/Canada



Oluseye, Nigerian born, living in Canada

From the Ori series, 2014.









Oluseye2From the Ori series, 2014.

Oluseye is a Toronto-based visual artist from Lagos, Nigeria. He combines an interest in Yoruba culture and geometry as a reference to explore universal themes of sexuality, spirituality and identity.
In his first body of work, ORI, he deconstructs and reinterprets notions of the Yoruba term and concept: Ori, literally translated as ‘head’ – the physical attributes including the brain and sensory organs Ori, the mental faculties (intellect, imagination, memory) Ori, the emotional nucleus (conscience, compassion, attraction and sexuality) and Ori, a metaphysical concept that represents the essence of one’s being and individuality – an immaterial force that determines personality and destiny.

oluseye-Ogunlesi-ori-gallery-151-nyc-10Portrait of the artist, 2015.

By melding these ideas he creates a visual narrative in which concepts of identity & being, body & mind, sex & sexuality, the physical & spiritual are vital and fluid constituents of Ori. As per Yoruba doctrine, ‘Iwa-pele’ – a concept comparable to Maslow’s theory of self-actualisation – is realised only when there is balance amongst these constituents. Working in a monochromatic palette, Oluseye captures a raw and primeval sensibility that evokes mood and an unsettling otherworldly consciousness. He portrays in his subjects a physical-spiritual identity by distorting and combining human, sculptural and mask elements. Each Ori is singular in appearance and experience. However, they are bound together by a metaphoric “geometric chaos”, and a collective sense of vulnerability, melancholy and empathy. (text gallery 151, New York)

oluseye-Ogunlesi-ori-gallery-151-nyc-3Installation view, Gallery 151, New York, 2015.