A CONTEXTUAL ANALYSIS OF MUYIDEEN ADIO JAJI’S STUNTED SCULPTURES

ABSTRACT

Muyideen Adio Jaji is a contemporary sculptor, who has been producing sculptures, both in naturalism and abstraction. He has also delved into the exploration of stunted figures. The problem of this research therefore, is to outline the context that locates his stunted sculptures. The research, thus aims at analysing the content of Jaji’s stunted sculptures. The objectives are to: identify and categorise the stunted sculptures produced by Jaji, examine the media and style employed in the production of such sculptures and to discuss the ideological and philosophical basis for such sculptures. Having established painterly movements like Onaism and Araism from their exploration of the Yoruba aesthetics; in literature, there is need to document the contributions of Jaji, to stunted sculptures. The justification of the research lies in the foregoing; as well as, the research’s capacity to tell the African story from an artistic point of view. The research is significant for bringing to fore, salient issues imbedded in Nigeria’s various traditions and cultures. In analyzing the stunted sculptures produced by Jaji, Akpang’s (2013) concept of Hybrid Aesthetics was adopted; outlining the cultural context that forms the basis for his artistic creations. By so doing, cogent elements in such cultures are discussed, consequently making this research a means for cultural understanding and appreciation. The findings made from the fieldwork and analysis, established that the artist’s exploration of figures, resulted into the production of ten stunted figures, between 2008 and 2015. Adopting the partial abstraction approach, the sculptures were produced in two major materials; terracotta and fibreglass. As an artist that derives inspiration from the environment, the stunted figures he produced were majorly propelled by the symbolic artistic traits that are imbedded in the traditional Yoruba Aesthetics. The study concludes by recommending that Art Historians should research further, into various indigenous artistic.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Page – – – – – – – – – – – i
Declaration – – – – – – – – – – – ii
Certification – – – – – – – – – – – iii
Dedication – – – – – – – – – – – iv
Acknowledgements – – – – – – – – – – v
Abstract – – – – – – – – – – – vi
Table of Contents – – – – – – – – – – vii
List of Figures – – – – – – – – – – x
List of Plates – – – – – – – – – – – xi
CHAPTER ONE
• Introduction – – – – – – – – – – 1
• Background of the Study – – – – – – – – 6
• Statement of the Problem – – – – – – – – 9
• Aim and Objectives of the Study – – – – – – – 9
• Research Questions – – – – – – – – – 10
• Justification of the Study – – – – – – – – 10
• Significance of the Study – – – – – – – – 10
• Scope of the Study – – – – – – – – – 11
• Conceptual Framework – – – – – – – – 11
CHAPTER TWO
• Review of Related Literature – – – – – – – – 14
• Sculptures and the Styles Evolved by Artists – – – – – – 14
• Materials and Styles in Sculpture – – – – – – 20
• Ideas and Philosophies that Accompany Sculptures – – – – – 31
• Literature on Muyideen Adio Jaji – – – – – – – 37
CHAPTER THREE
• Research Methodology – – – – – – – – 40
• Research Design – – – – – – – – – 40
• Sources of Data – – – – – – – – – 41
• Population and Sampling Technique – – – – – – – 42
• Field Work – – – – – – – – – – 42
CHAPTER FOUR
• Data Analysis and Discussion – – – – – – – – 44
• The Stunted Sculptures of Muyideen Adio Jaji and their Categories – – – 44
• The Materials and Styles Employed By Muyideen Adio Jaji – – – 53
• The Ideological and Philosophical Basis for the Stunted Sculptures – – – 60
• Socio-Political Ideas – – – – – – – – – 62
• Socio-Religious Ideas – – – – – – – – – 69
• Ghanaian Influenced Stunted Sculptures- – – – – – – 79
CHAPTER FIVE
• Summary, Findings And Conclusion – – – – – – – 88
• Summary – – – – – – – – – – 88
• Findings – – – – – – – – – – 94
• Conclusion – – – – – – – – – – 96
• Recommendation – – – – – – – – – 98
• References – – – – – – – – – – 100
• Appendix I: Draft-Interview Questions – – – – – – 107
• Appendix II: Interview Questions and Answers – – – – – 108
• Appendix III: The Researcher with the Artist During Fieldwork – – – 115

LIST OF FIGURES
i: Alberto Giacometti ‘Four women on a pedestal’ – – – – – – 17
ii: Ben Enwonwu ‘Anyanwu’ –
– – – – – – – – 18
iii: Demas Nwoko ‘The Woman’ – – – – – – – – 19
iv: Chris Echeta Politician I’- – – – – – – – – 22
v: Elizabeth Catlett ‘Mother and Child’ – – – – – – – 23
vi: Wilhelm Lehmbruck ‘Bust of the Ascending Youth’ – – – – – 23
vii: Marcel Duchamp ‘Fountain’ – – – – – – – – 25
viii: Pablo Picasso ‘Bull’s Head’ – – – – – – – – 25
ix: Martin Hill ‘Embodied’ – – – – – – – – – 27
x: Kumi Yamashita ‘Clouds’ – – – – – – – – – 27
xi: Wolfgang Laib pouring the milk for ‘Milkstone,’ – – – – – 29
xii: Artist Unknown ‘Ooni of Ife & Wife’ – – – – – – – 35
xiii: Artist Unknown ‘Oba on Horseback’ – – – – – – – 36
xiv: Muyideen Adio Jaji, ‘Destitute’ – – – – – – – – 38
LIST OF PLATES
i: Odeya – – – – – – – – – – – – 47
ii: Ayo – – – – – – – – – – – – 49
iii: The Detached Version ‘Ayo’ – – – – – – – – 52
iv: Obokun – – – – – – – – – – – 54
v: Bobajiroro – – – – – – – – – – – 57
vi: Iyalode I – – – – – – – – – – – 63
vii: Iyalode II – – – – – – – – – – – 65
viii: Eshu – – – – – – – – – – – 60
ix: Sango – – – – – – – – – – – 74
x: Sango 1986 – – – – – – – – – – – 76
xi: Oheneba – – – – – – – – – – – 81
xii: Ashantehene – – – – – – – – – – 84

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Traditional African art was generally characterized by its relative functionality and aesthetics. Art was a functional and necessary part of everyday life for traditional Africans. Religion, government, education, work and entertainment were all inter-related components in traditional African societies. Whether tangible or intangible, all forms of artistic expressions were deeply woven into the very fabric of their socio-religious context; playing central roles, in establishing a cohesive community. Activities such as folktales and festivals, helped achieve this bound.

Igbaro (2010) in writing about art and religious development in Nigeria adduces that, “art permeates every strata of life, because it was then prestigious to be associated with art and art works, more also that, it was religiously expedient to do so.” In pre-colonial Africa, the belief in the supernatural and the worship of ancestors, through rituals and festivals, were very significant phenomena on which Africans base most of their life happenings. Religion, just like art, was intimately tied to all life endeavours, which made a common identity between religion and art inevitable.

Art objects were employed as vehicles for spiritual communication in diverse ways. Some were created for use on altars and shrines. For instance, in the kingdom of Benin, cast brass commemorative heads, are placed on royal ancestral altars, where they serve as a point of contact with the king’s royal ancestors, as well as, keeping the memories of their reign alive. Christa (2006) describes annual rite of renewal among the Bwa, as means to seek the continued goodwill of nature spirits. Personal misfortunes, such as illness, death, or barrenness, or community crises, including war or drought, are also causes to petition the spirits for guidance and assistance. Africans engaged in religious practices with a desire to engage the spiritual world in the interest of social stability and well-being. This is as a result of their belief that, all humanity’s fortunes and misfortunes occurred as a function of the disposition of the supernatural god. Art did not just serve religious functions in pre-colonial African life, it also served several salient functions in the totality of the African existence; affirming one of its numerous definitions that reads – ‘art is life’. Art also functioned in beautification; it functioned politically, economically, socially, culturally, educationally, and in several other spheres of life, including solving domestic challenges.

Certain visual elements, however, were incorporated into these African art forms. These visual elements were neither encompassed in the work as a fluke, nor as a result of the artist’s limitation in the interpretation and representation of his visual perception; but were adopted to serve metaphorically symbolic functions. These visual elements, mostly in human figures, were enlarged, reduced or totally distorted from their natural form. For instance, the distortion of the head, navel, female breast or male reproductive organ, as seen in Nok art, Akuaba art, among others, does not signify incompetence on the part of the artists, but was deliberately done, for symbolic emphasis. For instance, in the traditional Yoruba sculptural representation, the head is usually blown out of relative proportion, to the rest of the body to signify the supernatural importance placed on the head, as a symbol of an individual’s identity and destiny, as well as serving as a metaphorical emblem of leadership.

These visual elements imbedded in the art of the traditional Africans, formed the bed rock for the artistic explorations of some western artists, who encountered some African art pieces. Murrell (2008) opines that, “during the early 1900s, the aesthetics of traditional African sculpture, became a powerful influence among European artists who, formed an avant-garde in the development of modern art.” He further explains that, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and their School of Paris friends, blended the highly stylized treatment of the human figure in African sculptures, with painting styles derived from the post-impressionist works of Cezanne and Gauguin. Their encounter with these art forms, gave rise to modern art movements such as Fauvism, cubism, and abstract expressionism.

In the same vein, the adoption of some of these stylistic traits is evident in the works of some contemporary African artists like Ben Enwonwu (1921-1994). ‘Anyanwu’, (produced in 1955), is one of his most prominent works, Enwonwu fused some traditional African stylistic traits, like scarifications, body adornments, partial abstraction and exaggeration of forms, among others; into his works. Vincent Kofi Akwete (1923-1974), from Ghana, also tapped into the annals of traditional African art, in embellishing his artistic ideas. Taking wood as his favourite medium of expression, the thematic essence of most of Kofi’s works were influenced by traditional concepts. Banjoko (2000) holds that, “necks and facial details were rendered in the manner of Akan Akuaba figures. Works like ‘Awakening Africa’, ‘Birth of Ghana’, and ‘Crucifix’ are good examples.”