The Yoruba Remixed paintings utilise a lot of traditional masks. Can you elaborate on their symbolism?
My paintings in this exhibition reference Gelede masks. Gelede masks are worn by Yoruba menfolk to celebrate women and their relevance to Yoruba society. Gelede is a male-oriented dance which celebrates women and their sacred powers of procreation and sexuality. The masks and dances satirise, entertain and educate onlookers and the society at large. As much as Gelede celebrates the powers of motherhood in Yoruba women they are also a salutation to their personal physical attributes and endowment. This is found in the meaning of the word Gelede itself. ‘Ge’ means to ‘pet or tenderly deal with’, ‘ele’ refers to a woman’s private parts and ‘de’ means ‘to soften them with gentleness’.
Gelede masks have elaborate wooden superstructures with carved human and animal imagery. These are spiritual and physical representations alluding to the awesome powers of ‘our mothers’ or women. They also represent the Yoruba notion of the physical head or ori of an individual. Ori being the seat of the life force in the physical and supernatural realms.