“Colours bloom, recede, flare up in tangled tones. Darkness is animated by a jolt of red…hot pinks soften at dusk; yellow flashes like fast-moving sunlight.”
A symphony of vibrant hues, A Toast to…? is an electrifying example of Jadé Fadojutimi’s dynamic and intuitive visual practice, which embraces chance and chaos via exuberant, painterly abstraction. Through color and form alone, Fadojutimi evokes compelling, complex feelings and emotions in the viewer, reflective of her own emotions at the time of working. Swathes of seemingly translucent pink, blue, yellow, and green in A Toast to…? coalesce in multifarious layers with luminous light and energy to create a visually charged landscape porous to a range of complex ideas and emotions. Fadojutimi’s paintings reside in prestigious museum collections including The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, The Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis, The Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, and The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, and at just 29 years old, Fadojutimi is the youngest artist in the collection of Tate, London. Now represented globally by Gagosian, Fadojutimi’s recent paintings were a highlight of The Milk of Dreams exhibition at the Central Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2022.
Gushing and exploding hues are given center stage on the surface of the canvas. Through lyrical mark-making, Fadojutimi beautifully builds up thin layers of pigment with rhythmic caresses, before intuitively scraping and scratching the painting’s luminous surface to leave a myriad of dancing grooves and sweeping strokes in her wake. The painting bursts with frenetic movement and gesture, as loose sequences of thick brushwork collide with vigorously worked passages. The richly saturated, all-encompassing composition pulses with energy, merging knotted lines and swathes of color to form illuminated layers that echo the aesthetics of stained glass and recall the same sense of entranced absorption associated with Jackson Pollock or Willem de Kooning. There is a buoyancy to Fadojutimi’s brushwork, her markings communicating her connection to memory with figurative punctuations. “When you wake from a dream, images hover at the intersection of representation and abstraction, [so] it is with Jadé’s paintings” describes critic Jennifer Higgie, “Colours bloom, recede, flare up in tangled tones. Darkness is animated by a jolt of red…hot pinks soften at dusk; yellow flashes like fast-moving sunlight.” (Jennifer Higgie, “From Life-Thoughts on the Paintings of Jadé Fadojutimi '', in: Exh. Cat., London, Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, Jadé Fadojutimi: Jesture, 2020, p. 9)
Melding her practice with her way of life, Fadojutimi leans into her own impatience and explores ideas in the moment in what the artist has called ‘orchestrated randomness’. Each of Fadojutimi’s glittering, rhythmic canvases are unique, with the artist eschewing any one rigid, systematic way of working. Whether using oil paint with a small dose of liquin to allow it to flow or thick oil pastels, Fadojutimi is guided by the “strong will of the painting’s desire to exist.” (Ibid., p. 11) Her rich source material includes the shapes, colors, and patterns of her surroundings. “I spoil myself with visual information and take from my surroundings like they’re a dictionary, a thesaurus, an atlas and an encyclopedia. A wonderful byproduct is that the paintings and space flow in and out of each other, becoming one.” (Jadé Fadojutimi quoted in: David Trigg, “Jadé Fadojutimi Interview”, Studio International, 26 April 2021) Often, Fadojutimi’s paintings derive their shapes, colors, and patterns from Japanese anime, video games and soundtracks, and her compositions pulsate with the dream-like energy and dynamism of such animations.
We are all colours that are constantly fluctuating, we change every day, we change every minute, and it was a wonderful thing to think about in terms of why these paintings feel so different to me all the time, because I am constantly changing, and the colours I am experiencing are constantly changing. I don’t want to use colour literally, but it’s more of a synesthesia of sorts.”
Fadojutimi’s brushwork is purposeful and clear, teasing at both abstraction and figuration in the creation of a mesmerizing sensory experience. Color stands at the forefront of Fadojutimi’s practice, in her words: “I bathe in the conversations between colour, texture, line, form, composition, rhythm, marks and disturbances.” (Jadé Fadojutimi quoted in: ibid.) In her highly nuanced, kaleidoscopic approach to color, Fadojutimi looks to a wide range of art historical sources, from Henri Matisse, Joan Mitchell and David Hockney to Makiko Kudo, Laura Owens, and Amy Sillman. “I think we can translate a lot of moods into colour, and see it literally, too. I’ve been thinking about a lot of what it means to talk about identity, or question it,” says the artist, “
Using layers of rhythmically applied paint in her exploration of identity and memory, Fadojutimi creates immersive landscapes of brushstrokes where “restless fragments – of ideas, impressions, sounds, colours, people – fuse to become something else, something whole, something new. Reincarnation is rife.” (Jennifer Higgie, op. cit., p.11) A Toast to…? exudes Jadé Fadojutimi’s singular and highly layered approach to abstraction, marking a testament to the artist’s capacity to push boundaries and reinvent the tenets of contemporary painting.