Wunika Mukan Gallery in partnership with Yawoa Foundation is proud to present In Heavenly Blue, the homecoming exhibition of Paul Majek and Sola Olulode. The exhibition centers on their exploration of the color blue as a conduit of love and memory. In their work, as in Nigerian tradition, blue certifies its power to summon emotion and elicit the depths of intimacy. Paul Majek’s paintings ebb dreamily between dimensions with the color blue facilitating the tide. Sola Oluode’s indigos arouse a sense of familiarity, as they linger in tender, romantic moments. The two UK based artists draw upon their ancestry in their practices and in coming “home”to Nigeria, they reconnect knowledge frayed by time and migration.
Paul Majek takes his own blue-hued lucid dreaming as a point of departure to probe the materiality of liminal spaces in his practice. As his painting title Blues behind closed eyes (2021) alludes, he takes interest in what may be “bubbling beneath the surface” of his consciousness. Painting in oil, acrylic and charcoal on wood panels or canvas, Paul recreates the defined terrain of the subliminal. He recontextualizes woodgrain as a liquid form and imprints Nigerian symbols to support a sense of transparency in his figures and ethereality of imagined spaces. His gentle yet ghostly visual language renders his work “soft and easy to enter”, allowing his paintings to serve as permeable passageways between dreams, death and rebirth. In this selection of work, he references archival family photos of people and spaces only partially known to him. He approaches the archive as its own autonomous language in order to traverse the perforated landscapes of memory, love, generational dialogue, and spirituality.
Sola Olulode’s work in this exhibition explores Black Queer romance, centering each work on two central figures locked in a moment of tenderness. Employing a range of media including ink, dye, batik, oil bar and pastels, her selection of paintings and monoprints delight themselves in uncompromising sweetness. Sola turns to the Nigerian practice of adire, a traditional form of batik resist dyeing, in her works on canvas. Reconstructing the practice in the UK, she uses cassava paste to outline preliminary forms on the canvas. She then submerges her canvas into deep indigo dyes, setting an emotive mood for the lovers who are often pictured in a moonlit embrace. She returns to her figures to selectively layer in color to give them form and dimension. This process of “soaking an aspect of [her] identity” into the work, coalesces the intersections of her own identity and highlights the ubiquitous nature of (and desire for) loving exchange.