P ainter Jadé Fadojutimi sees things in colour. It’s the way she processes the world, what she notices first. The London-born artist, whose lyrical abstract canvases have already won her high acclaim, including as the youngest artist to have work in the Tate collection, explores issues of identity in her art practice. 'My works are a reflection of myself,' she told Tate last year. 'They become environments…They become spaces for me to exist….'
Hailed as a rising talent of the next generation bringing new life to abstraction, Fadojutimi, a graduate of the Slade School of Fine Art and the Royal College of Art, paints her personal experiences and memories into her art, revealing complex and emotionally charged considerations of her internal worlds and external surroundings. ‘I think we can translate a lot of moods into colour, and see it literally, too’, she said in a 2020 interview with Vogue. ‘I’ve been thinking about a lot of what it means to talk about identity, or question it... We are all colours that are constantly fluctuating…’
Fadojutimi’s richly saturated, all-encompassing compositions pulse with energy. Knotted lines and swathes of colour form illuminated layers that recall the same sense of entranced absorption associated with Jackson Pollock or Willem de Kooning. Often working quickly, and late into the night, she prefers large-scale canvases that allow her to escape into the works. By melding her practice with her way of life, Fadojutimi leans into her own impatience and explores ideas in the moment, in what she’s called ‘orchestrated randomness’. Her studio would become a self-described stage for her work, a reciprocal environment reminiscent of her childhood bedroom, where her journey of introspection and understanding first began.
In that private space throughout childhood, she explored and cultivated varied interests – anime, Japanese subcultures, Korean drama, video games, movie soundtracks, drawing – that now inspire her practice. ‘I treasure living in an escapist reality, so it’s only natural that this has had a large impact on my life and practice,’ she said in an interview with Studio International. Fadojutimi credits her first visit to Japan, as part of an exchange programme in 2016, for prompting the discovery of her painterly language. ‘Every country has its own melody’, she said. ‘There’s something about the colour sensibility in Japan that I resonate with, as well as its fashion, soundtracks, landscape, language and storytelling in its animations. I’ve spent years immersed in anime.’
Under the Weather, from 2017, is a mesmerizing landmark from her artistic journey, composed in different washes of cobalt, azure, and indigo punctuated by brash gold. It conjures emotions of melancholy and lethargy, echoed by the title, yet wraps us in the same comfort enjoyed from safely watching a rainstorm from a warm interior. It feigns at figuration, with familiar flashes of forms daring but evading recognition, catching our subconscious. In this way, the work welcomes delightful moments of connection. ‘The notion of the “self” and the fracturing of identity are explored in my paintings through creating locations of familiar unfamiliarity, fears and unknowns,’ she has said.
Fadojutimi is part of a group of rising Black artists whose works are setting records at auction, including in Asian markets. In June, her stained glass-esque painting I'm pirouetting the night away, from 2019, sold for close to four times its high estimate at Sotheby’s Modern & Contemporary Art Evening Sale in London, achieving £402,000 (US$547,000). That same month, her Concealment: An essential generated by the lack of shade, from 2019, in electric and emerald hues of green, sold for HK$5.7 million (US$728,000), seven times its high estimate, and set a new record at auction for the artist. Fadojutimi’s rising international appeal is also reflected in her gallery representation: by Pippy Houldsworth Gallery in London, Taka Ishii Gallery in Tokyo, and Galerie Gisela Capitain in Cologne.
Coming fresh off the Liverpool Biennale, Fadojutimi is currently participating in the prestigious and highly acclaimed Hayward Gallery exhibition, Mixing It Up: Painting Today, an absorbing showcase of the diverse painting in Britain today. In addition to two exhibitions next year, at the Hepworth Wakefield and Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Torino, next month her debut institutional solo exhibition, Jadé Fadojutimi: Yet, Another Pathetic Fallacy, will open at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, where her 2019 work A point to pointlessness was recently acquired. This major presentation will host a group of new, large-scale paintings made especially for the show, alongside other existing works, that charts the artist’s meteoric journey to date.