April - July 2022 — Visual Arts
In his work, Nigerian artist Olaniyi Akindiya, aka Akirash, is interested in exploring the invisible systems of power that govern everyday existence. Working across mixed media painting, sculpture, installation, video, photography, sound and performance, Olaniyi says his work is about “the journeys of everyday life. I tell stories that address issues that affect us all around the world.” During his residency at TaDA in St.Gallen, Switzerland from April to July 2022, Olaniyi intends to research the history of industrial woven textiles in Nigerian culture by tracing the story of trade and exchange between Nigeria, Switzerland and Austria.
In Nigeria and other West African countries, textiles are deeply intertwined in the fabric of daily life. Olaniyi explains that “to Nigerians, dressing is a communication of life. The way people dress and the patterns, design, and colours of the cloth they wear communicates what is going on in their life.” Olaniyi’s work responds to this, using paper rather than fabric to create intricately woven sculptures and installations that are inspired by traditional loom woven textiles from Nigeria and Ghana.
African textiles have become a visual symbol for “Africanness” in popular culture, despite many of the textiles being produced outside of the continent. Olaniyi is interested in knowing more about the fabric trade between Europe and Africa, which he says has only been partially recorded. During his residency Olaniyi hopes to research and speak with textile historians to find our more about how patterns and design were chosen and how these became popular on the continent and synonymous with African aesthetics.
Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Olaniyi Akindiya earned his first BSC degree in Biochemistry from the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta Nigeria (1991) before going on to study Fine and Applied Art at the Institute of Textile Technology Art & Design Lagos (1995). He moved to the USA in 2011 and now lives between Lagos and Pflugerville, Texas. Olaniyi’s work focuses on the passing of time and utilises a multitude of techniques and materials, including re-purposed objects. He has received numerous grants and awards, including TEMPO 21 City of Austin 2021, Red bull Arts, CERF+ 2020, Foundation for contemporary arts emergency grants 2021, 2020 & 2019, The Otis & Velma Davis Dozier Travel Grant Award From DMA 2019, TEMPO 19 City of Austin 2019, E 51st Art in public space 2019, CORE Funding 2018, the Innovative Artist Award from (MAAA / NEA) 2017, Pollock Krasner Foundation 2016/17 & 2011, Santo Foundation grant 2015, and Commonwealth Connection Award UK 2011. Throughout his career, the role of residencies and interactions with other artists has been pivotal to his work. Olaniyi has been awarded residencies in the USA, South America, Africa, including Hot box Residency in Austin 2014, Centraltrak Dallas 2013, Triangle Art Association NY 2012, Sacatar Instituto Brazil 2015, Kiosko Gallery Residency in Bolivia 2014, John Muafangejo Art Center Namibia 2013, Nafasi Art Space Tanzania 2012, Tupelo / Bag Factory South Africa 2012 and Nirox Projects Space Residency South Africa 2012.