BY Leanne Petersen in Reviews | 29 OCT 20
Featured in
Issue 216

Jadé Fadojutimi Rejects Labels

At Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London, the artist awakens novel patterns of figuration in her large-scale canvases

BY Leanne Petersen in Reviews | 29 OCT 20

‘Jesture’, Jadé Fadojutimi’s second solo show at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, presents a series of six immersive paintings produced during the months of lockdown. Together, they at once seem to examine and offer respite from the socio-political events that have shaped our everyday lives. Aged just 27, London-born Fadojutimi – a graduate of the Slade School of Fine Art and the Royal College of Art, where she completed her MFA in 2017 – is firmly in the ascendant. Currently the youngest artist to have work in the Tate collection, she had her first institutional solo show at PEER, London, in 2019 and, next year, will have two more, consecutively at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, and The Hepworth Wakefield.

Central to Fadojutimi’s work are ideas of identity and belonging, both in relation to herself and the world in which she exists. Through painting, she seeks to interrogate the dualism of negative and positive labels and attitudes so often applied to ourselves and others. During the lockdown period, she has been able to explore this further through drawings, sketches and writing – another important aspect of her practice – leading her to incorporate new media, such as oil stick, into the works on display.

Jadé Fadojutimi, Vital Abundance, 2020
Jadé Fadojutimi, Vital Abundance, 2020, oil and oil stick on canvas, 110 x 140 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London

Fadojutimi’s vibrant, large-scale canvases present cryptic, layered compositions of recurring shapes and textures that command the gallery’s walls and match the viewers gaze. Each painting can be seen as the artist’s attempt to collate her thoughts, emotions and memories onto canvas or environment (a term she uses often to describe her work). The result sits somewhere between abstraction and figuration, knowing and unknowing – not unlike the experiences many of us have had during this tumultuous year.

There are moments in the exhibition of intimate connection with the canvases, allowing viewers to pinpoint forms and create meaning, only to have them vanish back into a distorted mystery of abstraction. In My Fissured Glow (2020), the most pared-back of all the  paintings on display, colours and gestures speak to a visual system in our brain, awakening patterns of figuration. In a fleeting moment of pareidolia, a distorted face emerges from flashes of blue and scrawls of red and orange, soon interrupted by ambiguous lines and characters that break up the composition, allowing the subtler undertones of brown, grey and soft pink to seep through the white surface, accentuating the work’s titular glow.

Jadé Fadojutimi, My Fissured Glow, 2020
Jadé Fadojutimi, My Fissured Glow, 2020, oil and oil stick on canvas, 170 x 180 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London

Often listening to animation and cinematic soundtracks while painting, Fadojutimi has developed an intuitive and exciting visual language that suggests a sort of synaesthesia takes place during the creative process. Her colour palettes of lively blues and acid greens, contrasted with rich purple and red hues, deliver a performative quality as you attempt to follow the consistent gesticulations in the bold brush strokes. In Vital Abundance (2020), for instance, you might observe the fast-paced, rhythmic speed at which the artist instinctively applies paint and, as your eyes trace the swirls of entanglements in the repeated cogitated marks and layers of recurring forms, you soon begin to feel like you have become a part of the work, entranced in her environment.

Before leaving the show, Thank you my love, I would never have discovered it without you (2020) provides a final moment of reflection. Two conjoined canvases draw you into a haze of warm and uplifting pink, orange and yellow, overflowing from a diamond shaped centre of copious greens and reds, accented by cartoon-like shapes and blue insignias. Conjuring an impression of the gratitude and hope that might emerge from this lockdown, Fadojutimi offers a renewed sense of self and transformation of the world we exist in.

Jadé Fadojutimi's 'Jesture' at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, runs until 31 October 2020.

Main image: Jadé Fadojutimi, Thank you my love, I would never have discovered it without you, 2020, oil and oil stick on canvas, two parts, 220 x 320 cm (total). Courtesy: the artist and Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London



Leanne Petersen is a writer and independent curator based in London, UK.