Arts + Culture

NextGen: Isaiah Wakoli's Stimulating Art Is Inspired by Color's Interaction with Human Behavior

Kenyan artist Isaiah Wakoli looks to his experience living with color synesthesia as inpsiration for his digital art.

DIASPORAOver the course of July we'll be publishing short profiles, essays and interviews on the theme of "Afrofutures." Together these stories will be a deep dive into the way African and diaspora thinkers, technologists and artists view a future for Africans in the world and outside of it. 


Take a look at our introduction to Afrofuturism here.

Throughout this month, we'll also highlight and celebrate young, leading talents who already put into practice what a future with black people look like through their work in our daily profile series, 'NextGen.'

In our ninth edition, meet Kenyan artist, Isaiah Wakoli. 

We’ve featured several artists in the NextGen series who use graphic design, photography and visual art to stimulate our eyes and transport our minds to foreign worlds. Every artist has a unique style and perspective that inspires us to view our tangible world more critically and creatively. But Kenyan artist Isaiah Wakoli actually does see the world differently than some of us do, and it accents his vibrant, boisterous art: he has a rare gift called color synesthesia.

“I’m inspired by color, light and human behavior,” Wakoli says via email. “I have this rare condition called color synesthesia. I love color. I always try to associate moods and feelings with different colors. I love light, how it can fall on one thing and give it a certain character and yet again fall differently on the same object and give it a different character.

A post shared by Noncompliant (@iwakoli) on

A post shared by Noncompliant (@iwakoli) on

Synesthesia is a “union of the senses” or the rare ability to associate two or more senses with one another: such as seeing colors when tasting food or hearing music, or viewing letters and numbers as people, with actual personalities, moods and more. For some time, synesthesia was believed to be a mental dysfunction, or a philosophical topic that questions creativity and consciousness, but now more researchers are striving to understand it deeply, and synesthetes are welcomed to express their sensual experiences.

A post shared by Noncompliant (@iwakoli) on

A post shared by Noncompliant (@iwakoli) on

Wakoli’s art, which is saturated in rich, bold hues and shades, imagines people on lonely planets, morphing into nature or exposing a subtle, introspective side of humanity. “Human behavior has also been interesting to look at (in my work)—how everyone is quite unique in their own way," he says. "How their culture is a big part of their lives, and what happens when their culture crosses paths with a different one.” Perhaps the key to understanding nature, human behavior and the wonder of color, is in the synesthete’s ability to unite one sense with another.

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A post shared by Noncompliant (@iwakoli) on

Style
Image courtesy of Daily Paper

Wekafore Releases Fela Kuti Inspired Collab With Daily Paper

The one-of-a-kind 'The Spirit Don't Die' capsule collection celebrates African heritage and a hope for a brighter future.

Amsterdam-based African streetwear brand Daily Paper has joined Nigerian fashion brand Wekafore in creating a unique capsule collection of note. The 'The Spirit Don't Die' collection is inspired by fashion and Nigerian activism icon Fela Kuti, but celebrates the bountiful beauty, potential, and heritage of Africans.

Nigerian designer Wekaforé Maniu Jibril, owner, and designer of the Wekafore brand has been hot since his 2013 debut. The brand has gone on to become a great success within the realm of West African fashion. Wekaforé represents a newer, more fearless generation of African designers and their latest collaborative collection tells the tale.

Daily Paper x Wekaforé 'The Spirit Don't Die' collectionImage courtesy of Daily Paper


The two popular brands share a rich history and intention to further African fashion's reputation in the world, as well as as a shared desire for raw necessity, organic growth, and authentic community engagement, development and, support. The fashion brands are making it known that street and casual wear are more than we once thought - fashion can be inclusive and fun. The stars truly aligned to bring us this partnership guided by similar core values and the hunger to celebrate Africa and her diasporas through fashion.

The Fela Kuti-inspired collection is filled with distinctive and bold pieces, honoring Africa's past while paving the way towards the future. Wekafore is known for their clear integration of West Africa's 1970's cultural golden age, and this limited collection speaks to those themes, making it a no-brainer to dedicate the line to the legendary King of Afrobeat, whose style never disappointed. It's clear to see how Kuti's influence inspired the exciting and vibrant creative renaissance seen in the collection. On using Kuti as his muse, Wekaforé says, "Like Fela, the pieces are very punk, very psychedelic, and very African at the same time. And that represents me 100%. And I think being able to speak that way through a platform like Daily Paper is a testament to contemporary African consciousness."


Image courtesy of Daily Paper

Daily Paper x Wekafore 'The Spirit Don't Die' Collection

Check out more of Daily Paper x Wekafore's collection 'The Spirit Don't Die' collection here.

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