We’ve always believed that fashion as an art form, can throw down its commercial guns and take on the full embodiment of the creative arts, as was aptly illustrated through the fabrics of Ituen Basi’s Spring Summer 2014 ‘Ekemini’ collection showcased at the 2013 Music Meets Runway.
The collaboration which brought two energetically creative forces together went beyond just slapping the artist’s patterns and paintings on a piece of fabric. They created living art, the models became a live canvas that strutted down the runway as part of a grand exhibition, instead of someone just wearing a piece of cloth.
We had been so immersed in the distorted human shapes illustrated, the sway of the fringing on the clothes and the interesting allure of the collection as a whole; from the hair to the print shoes, that we were completely unaware that the beautiful illustrations which adorned those fabrics were conjured by an artist, until months later when a friend mentioned it in passing.
Victor Ehikhamenor is a Nigerian-born visual artist, writer and photographer who has been practicing all these art forms for so long now that they intersect and feed off of each other. His intent is to stretch things beyond the traditional canvas; painting becomes his outlet when the need to reminisce about old shrine drawings of his childhood arises, and poetry, when he needs to serenade.
As a figurative-abstractionist who draws influences from traditional African motifs and religious cosmology, he opts to try different forms, (sculptures, charcoal on canvas, “paintfortation”: painting by perforation-a technique that uses nail perforations in thick white handmade paper to create subtle relief work), he goes back and forth with the forms and styles he likes, while seeking to discover new ones.
Victor also sees book covers as another canvas, a collaboration between text and visuals. He’s the artist behind over 30 amazing book covers, starting with Chika Unigwe, followed by favorites like Chimamanda Adiche’s Purple Hibisicus, then a long list including measuring time by Helon Habila.
Such collaborative efforts between fashion and art are few and far between. The other example that readily comes to mind is the beautiful illustrations seen on different pieces which made up the Re Bahia SS15 collection showcased at the last LFDW. In a continent with vast numbers of incredibly talented artists and designers, there’s much left to be desired, and while we hoe for change, we are comforted by Ehikhamenor who shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.