Curated by Aindrea Emelife: We Are History

Art historian, writer and curator Aindrea Emelife introduces hand-finished editions from Shannon Bono, Tunji Adeniyi-Jones and Sola Olulode.

Close up of Sola Olulode working on her print

In her debut collaboration with Avant Arte, art historian, writer and curator Aindrea Emelife introduces three hand-finished editions, drawn together in response to the enduring words of James Baldwin:

History is not the past. It is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history. If we pretend otherwise, we are literally criminals.

Works from all three editions have been hand-finished by the artists in their studios, anchoring the prints to the movements and materials of their broader practice. Launching on Thursday 14th October, check the artworks below to register your interest.

From the curator

“All three artists confront personal histories in their work, exercising the ways we negotiate the past in the present and how our histories feed our identity. These histories inform and move us. The past seeks to push the future forward.

The collection of works attest a boundless infatuation with self-validation and joy as well as a call to resist the idea that Black art, or Black figuration, is a monolith. Together, they are eternal and internal, a reclamation and a celebration. Resistance can be soft, it can be joyous, and it can be introverted. Humanity is complex; we must investigate the many corners of history to understand how we are seen and how we see ourselves.

We may carry our history with us, but we carry it in many ways.”

– Aindrea Emelife

Shannon Bono: A Reflection of You

Artist Shannon Bono hand-finishing her print

British artist Shannon Bono (b.1995) draws on scientific foundations to inform compelling tributes to Black womanhood, defying colonial histories at every turn.

“In Shannon Bono’s work, the artist literally looks history stark in the face; confronting her enamorment with African spirituality in moving self portraits. Bono centres her practice on projecting Black women’s lived experiences, creating layer upon layer of symbolism and meaning in figurative compositions that demand rumination and contemplation. Merging the design of African fabrics with contemporary visions of the body, she ebbs between past and present with every work.” – Aindrea Emelife

Edition details

A Reflection of You is an edition of 20 archival pigment prints. The process of creating the edition inspired Bono to reimagine an original painting, collaborating closely with a print studio in London to infuse its existing palette with luxurious gold tones. Furthermore, the work’s surface is hand-finished by the artist with a series of details in 3D pearlescent cream – making each print unique.

Tunji Adeniyi-Jones: Violet Dance

Artist Tunji Adeniyi-Jones hand-finishing his print in the studio
A wall of sketches, in the studio of Tunji Adeniyi-Jones

Based in New York, Tunji Adeniyi-Jones (b.1992) paints decadent, high-saturation compositions of fluid pattern and rhythmic figuration.

“Tunji Adeniyi-Jones uses figuration as a means to explore West African history and its associated mythology through recurring motifs of religion, dance and artefact – notably the Egungun mask. While some cultural equivalents, such as Greek mythology and Western religious iconography, have been written into our collective cultural lexicon in indelible ink, their compelling African counterparts still seek visual representation. Adeniyi-Jones renders colourful and vibrant bodies that take inspiration from both his Yoruba heritage and his British upbringing, creating bold compositions that evoke the traditions and experiments of performance and dance.” – Aindrea Emelife

Edition details

Violet Dance is a hand-pulled, 14 layer screenprint – finished with matte varnish and glossy, vinyl ink details. 10 prints from the edition of 50 have been hand-finished by the artist in acrylic, watercolour and ink.

Sola Olulode: Laying in the Grass

Artist Sola Oluloede hand-finishing her print in her studio

From her studio in London, Sola Olulode (b.1996) paints tender, dream-like vignettes as a refuge for Black queer love.

“Sola Olulode’s dreamy visions re-assert a Black queer narrative with softness and beauty. Olulode harnesses natural mediums of natural dye, batik, wax, and ink to create textural canvases that explore the complciated fabric and fluidity of identity, drawing inspiration from her own interiority as well as cultural reference points central to the experiences of Black queer womxn. Olulode ensures that queer intimacies – friendships, love, joy – are represented and celebrated.” – Aindrea Emelife

Edition details

Laying in the Grass is an edition of 25 hand-pulled, 7 layer screenprints – extensively hand-finished by the artist in pencil and oil pastel to make every work unique.

Credits

All video shot and edited by Lucy Emms.

Portraits and accompanying shoot with Aindrea Emelife, Shannon Bono and Sola Olulode by Lucy Emms in London.

Portraits and accompanying shoot of Tunji Adeniyi-Jones by Harry John Griffin III in New York.