EAF16 Artist Profile: Olalekan Jeyifous
“My artwork is strongly rooted in ‘borrowed and invented narratives.’ More often than not they explore dystopian interventions into urban spaces and pastoral landscapes in ways that communicate their participation in, and alienation from a larger world,” Olalekan Jeyifous reflects. For his 2016 Emerging Artist Fellow Project, Jeyifous has crafted a simple polygon structure, stripped down to iconic building forms.
Jeyifous’ work finds itself as a response to either the anxiety or potential of spaces and how one navigates, maps, and perceives them. His cultural-identity and discursive upbringing were characterized by perpetual adaptation to and exploration of new spaces and places.
“I wanted Condition of Exile to both contrast and respond directly to Socrates Sculpture Park and the myriad of physical, outdoor conditions that define it.” Using building materials, such as wood and metal, Jeyifous incorporates construction materials analogous to the local vernacular and yet pushes back through the use of vibrant colors and ornate façade patterns, which distinctly contrast with the neighborhood aesthetic.
Coming from his residency at the Macdowell Colony, where he constructed brutalist low-polygon paper sculptures, Jeyifous continues this exploration at Socrates. The Macdowell Colony is a residency devoted to nurturing the productivity of the individuals selected to attend and during his residency, his first installation, “They Won’t Be Naming No Buildings After Me…,” came as a response to the heightened focus on police brutality and the ways in which artists use their platforms as a catalyst for activism. At Socrates, he has sampled from these sculptures at a much larger scale in order to reflect on gentrification and displacement within Long Island City, Queens and beyond.