Against the backdrop of plastic pollution, the rise of sustainable fashion, and the growing presence of African Art on the global art scene; Dela Kekeli’s ‘Awula’ Sculptures encapsulate some of the most important happenings of our era.
Dela Kekeli builds upon the foundation of works by great African Artists such as El Anatsui, Serge Attukwefio Clottey and Ibrahim Mahama whose works incorporate debris while creating a dialogue on various important subjects. Dela Kekeli expands upon this layer of debris as an artistic medium by making connections to the world of fashion thus creating a body of work that boldly lies at the intersection of African Art, Sustainable Fashion, and Upcycling.
Having previously created works that tackle social issues with debris as his primary medium, Delasi Kekeli incorporates new elements such as bottle caps, copper, raffia, and discarded newspapers to create mixed-media sculptures that breathe high fashion.
In an interview with Kuulpeeps, Delasi Kekeli reveals the thought process and inspiration in creating his new collection.
Aside from the bag being fashion related what makes the bag a piece of art.
The process, I call them wearable sculpture because what we simply did was to create a three dimensional surface to create art on, using the same material and the medium that I use as an artist to create my other body of work. The function of a bag makes it a fashionable piece, in that it has the ability to be worn unlike a statue that simply stays in place. These mixed media sculptures can be worn and carried about and once you get to a room and place them on a platform, they instantly become a decorative piece.
What inspired the color pattern on these art pieces?
I wanted to go with a more minimalist aesthetic, by creating colours that could allow the wearer to wear the bags with many clothes they already owned. Unlike in previous collections which were maximalist in nature, these went the opposite. If you are also going to have a bag that can last for many years, you will want a color that will allow you to combine it with many clothes.
What makes these art pieces different from previous art pieces you’ve worked on.
The major difference is material. In previous art pieces I used wood and jute sacks whereas in the new body of work, I have begun incorporating plastic debris.
What was the thought process like before you started this process. (creative process)
With my latest collection, every design decision was based on a problem that we wanted to solve. The ultimate goal was to figure out how we were going to make a bag out of the gallons, but along the way it took countless months of trial and error to bring us to the product you see. Basically we began in February and the final product was released in July. To be honest sometimes it was all about waiting on God for that big idea. It was stressful, plastic is a stubborn material, and after prototyping we sometimes have to go back to the drawing board because certain ideas were not working. But all in all I am grateful to God for the outcome.
What were the challenges you faced when working on this particular art piece.
Lots of them. One thing is that we had to learn the properties of plastic, copper, and all that other materials on the job. Sometimes we put them together and they just weren’t working well together. Iron was rusting so we had to replace, plastic had a fixed mound so we had to work around that. The drying time of oil paints also made the process longer. You look at the pieces now and one will think it was built with ease but no, it wasn’t. It takes more hours to create these bags than my typical tapestry works. I do see their value surpassing the value of some of the other art pieces in the near future due to this very reason.
You can get your “Awula, Genesis Collection” at Lokko House
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