Artist Kayode Ojo Wants You to Question Your Relationship to Fashion

Kayode Ojo has developed a shorthand for glamour. The artist deploys it to create sculptural portals into our desires using ready-made—and sometimes ready-to-wear—items. His fashion-flecked assemblages, which have included mirrored shelves studded with glass bottles, and a transparent chair draped with a white blazer and a belt of bullets, evoke cinematic grandeur despite their material economy. Somehow, in his work, grandiosity meets minimalism.

Raised in a small town in Tennessee, the 33-year-old New Yorker is a larger-than-life fixture on the art party circuit, often seen snapping candids of moments that would otherwise go unremembered. Ojo started his career as a photographer, and his sculptures remain camera-conscious, drawing attention to the way photography has become a ubiquitous tool in the art-viewing experience.

Ojo approaches his exhibitions much like a stylist might prepare for a cover shoot, except he sources most of his materials through online shopping binges. “The selection process is kind of crazy,” he says. “I’ll look at a thousand dresses, and then they’ll arrive, and it’s sort of an audition process.” He’ll consider different components to see which ones play nice and which ones create new wholes. These decisions are often made in the gallery, during the final scramble before opening night. “It’s a combination of being confident, terrified, bold, and delusional,” he says, laughing.

Ojo agreed to tweak this selection process a bit for his first ever fashion editorial, seen here. A cache of this season’s most coveted pieces made its way over to the installation of “Eden,” Ojo’s solo show at the gallery 52 Walker, in lower Manhattan. Once inside the viewing room that served as his staging area, Balenciaga and Gucci accessories easily transitioned into their new roles as complications in the artist’s abstractions. Balancing on and hanging precariously from his work, these objects momentarily broke up a steely palette of highly polished metals and Plexiglas. Details such as an eye-catching clasp on a Saint Laurent purse and a dangling brass bell on a Burberry satchel made for interesting discoveries. “I felt kind of like a kid again,” says Ojo.

What is ultimately captured in his images is the manic three-to-five-day stretch before the curtain goes up. This mad dash of late nights and intuitive associations is usually invisible—concealed within the flawless surfaces of his final compositions—but here the traces of this frenetic surge linger. There is a sense of urgency in these fleeting collisions between fashion and art. It’s the kind of tenuous exchange between culture and commerce that he does best.

Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello bag.

Photographs and artwork courtesy of the artist and 52 Walker.

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