In her practice, Temitayo Ogunbiyi considers and constructs contemporary channels of communication. She is currently working on a series of drawings and sculptures that fuse hairstyles with botanical forms. These works are part of the series ‘You Will’, which began in 2016 as pencil on paper drawings. With the early works, the artist sought a degree of perfection that she had then perceived to exist in hairstyling and botanicals. An interest in geometry and textures associated with both of these subjects remains relevant, though currently Ogunbiyi’s approach also seeks to embellish imperfections evident at various stages of executing the work. So doing, she seeks a more complex interpretation of nature and the many stages in the lives of plants.
The title of each work is a declarative prayer, beginning with ‘You will’, taking its structure from colloquial conversations had across Nigeria where prayer can be a confirmation of what is to come, rather than a request or plea. The forms referenced combine stories of transnational relationships that reflect generations of people journeying across lands and seas. These details inform a visual art practice that brings diverse references together to connect specific communities and questions divisive boundaries.
The series has recently expanded to include paintings and sculptures of varying scales. The most ambitious of these are the public sculptures, which incorporate the gesture of wrapping to connect arrayed references including Victorian Hair Work and Yoruba hairstyling, among others. The aim is to challenge the compartmentalization of culture and present play and exercise as a right for all children, and adults. Often times, social justice is imagined as dismantling hierarchies, but what if it starts with freedom experienced in childhood, the freedom to be and interpret one’s surroundings? Can this heighten awareness of compromised freedoms and compel future generations to care for the environment and make space for those without it?