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Deborah Detoun Adeniyi breaks out with Still & Searching, a solo exhibition

At 4pm on December 10, 2021, the Untitled at SO.NNE, which is located at 17 Maitama Sule Street, Ikoyi, Lagos, will be opening its doors to the public for one of the anticipated exhibitions of the year.

Titled ‘Deborah Detoun Adeniyi: Still & Searching…’ the exhibition is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Lagos and also an inaugural presentation by the cell co, curated by Arinola Olowoporoku. It will last till December 12, 2021.

Deborah Detoun Adeniyi is a self taught and full-time artist who lives and works between Lagos and London.

This coming of age exhibition is an all encompassing journey with themes of sisterhood, contemplation, introspection and extrospection. Developed as a compilation of retorts to a thunderbolt, and thrown into a state of partial displacement, the artist attempts to recalibrate intricate details that make up personal identification.

A fated culmination of a tragedy, continuous global thunderbolts and a forced reality where reflection, introspection and interrogation intertwine required an unrestrained portal by way of artistic expression.

In a state of openness and vulnerability to the path to discovery, thoroughly immersing herself in the experience, this body of work is a response to jolting life events that transforms personhood and alters all interactive dynamics.

Searching connotes to move around or look through carefully in order to find something missing or lost, to explore or examine an idea or a person in order to discover.

The exhibition, Still and searching… invites the viewers to exist and navigate parallel worlds, a play on the idea of searching the very act that requires movement while still, devoid of movement and arrested in motion.

While contemplating, examining perspectives at large and how to harness it for self conception, Adeniyi infuses symbolisms that depict her natural environment, physical bare form and existence. The artist aims to maintain a stillness juxtaposed with a chaotic context through the whimsical scenery, searching for what was once had, now lost yet unknown. Her work is expressionist in nature with figurative tendencies, using allegories from global culture, places from imagined memory, she dotes on themes that reflect her personal identity, exploring her sensibilities and artistic awareness.

The representation of her subjects is critical, female figures, imagined or layered. She uses mosaic on her subjects to introduce an open ended existence pulling the audience in to interrogate the complexities of being lying behind the face.

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The paintings in this body of work were achieved through experimentation and using the canvas as a method of collection of her thoughts, as medium of expression, therapeutic routine and as a learning opportunity for personal development. This process offers infinite opportunity of self representation covering blackness, sisterhood, femininity and cultural identity befitting contemporary conversations regarding social and political subject matter.

The consequence of this is weightlessness, submitting to the process, affirming control of herself, aware of her new horizon and the possibilities unintended.

Deborah Detoun Adeniyi was born in the UK (1992), lived in Lagos in her early years before relocating to the UK all within early childhood. All her life Detoun has identified and experimented with varying mediums including performance art, fine and visual art, whether in formal and informal settings with her childhood littered with an array of classes, performances and initiatives that all contribute to her intentional and unintended artistic development.

Detoun’s bicultural view comes with the need to satisfy a nagging curiosity, her early work was based on exploring the existing tension caused by the divide of her Eurocentric environment and geographical culture and her Nigerian background, heritage and cultural identity. Having spent most of her life in the UK, there’s been a notion of displacement feeling far yet close and strange but familiar to her home country. She approaches her work interrogating her fit into both worlds.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting & Finance, University of Kent and has worked the majority of the decade in the financial services sector. A fated culmination of a tragedy, continuous global thunderbolts and a forced reality where reflection, introspection and interrogation intertwine required an unrestrained portal – her canvas. Through her artistic process she finds therapy, she articulates complex emotions influenced by the steady uncertainty. Plunging herself into the deep end, her debut showcase was a series of acrylic paintings conceived in the process, exhibited in The Hull Room, Brixton August 2021 in a solo show titled ‘Inspired by Her’.

Through her work, Detoun seeks to evoke emotions in people unaware, emotions that may have formerly gone unperturbed.

She focuses on self representation, a principal focus of Detoun’s work is femininity, her representation of women is critical to the narrative being presented. She is meticulous about her depiction of black skin highlighting the complexity in variation carefully fluid without limit or expectation. She is keen on exploring and challenging the portrayal of blackness, femininity and traversing personal struggles pertaining to contemporary discourse, youth culture and global identity. Detoun is a contemporary artist who explores her subjects, mainly portraiture of women, through assumed identity, her positioning, composition, surroundings and narrative have expressionist styles.

She is interested in experimenting with mixed media on canvas such as embellishments, intertwining materials, methods and 3D objects to achieve a holistic presentation of thoughts and ideas evoking dialogue, memories and emotions.

The cell co. is a creative pathway company specialising in providing a progressively evolving platform for visual artists in Nigeria, Africa and the diaspora. We engage in grassroots development of artists, creatives and initiatives ranging from curatorial practice, cultural production, literature & career development, and cross sectional art direction. We focus on multidisciplinary collaboration and co-creation with the ultimate vision of holistically validating African visual artists laterally.

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