Wole believes Gelede masks have spiritual powers and have long influenced creatives in the West both physically and metaphysically. He wishes for these objects to be returned to their origins and be re-contextualized for their broad influence on Western civilization and imagery, including from the Western Canon of Art.
In this work, Wole presents a Gelede mask of Yemoja, the goddess of water in Yoruba culture, associating it with Monet’s Waterlilies. According to myth, when Yemoja’s waters broke, it caused a great flood creating rivers and streams and the first mortal humans were created from her womb. She is a powerful Deity protecting women and bestowing creative powers.
Monet was exposed to African culture and particularly Gelede masks which were very popular around the turn of the century in Paris and directly inspired numerous artists such as Picasso, Braque and Gauguin. The suggested influence on Monet’s practice however, is more subtle and comes on a metaphysical, rather than physical level.
Notes from a Zoom conversation with Serge Tiroche on Nov 30, 2021