a Corrugated metal door rattles open and Jade Fadugotimi It seems. She welcomes me indoors, as the sun sets over the industrial south of London where she keeps a studio. Very elegant wardrobe, you often wear Instagram In a costume coordinated with her paintings, the artist today wears a neon yellow shirt and multicolored shorts, with her nails painted green, red, and blue—every part of her work, she explains, because “anything that results in a composition is a painting.” Soul, Ocean album composed by Atom Music Audio, boom of speakers. Two rococo sofas sit either side of a table holding a sake bottle, surrounded by a large set of pot plants. On the walls are her massive, immersive, brilliantly colored new paintings, dedicated to her Hepworth Wakefield in Yorkshire this month.
She explains that the series is called Super Color Green, based on a book she wrote Peter Walpin Call tree heartbeats“About our senses and our relationships to color and how where you grew up kind of determines what colors you can see and your color sensitivity.” Vadogotimi thinks she suffers from synesthesia (although “there’s no test for that”), where other forms of stimulation bring in visions of color. “I’m not one of those people who reads and then words change color, but when I feel an emotion, I see color and that’s what makes my paintings come alive.”
These images, located in the middle of a dramatic point between the abstract and the figurative, made Fadojutimi a hot property. Still at 29, she is the youngest artist ever to have a work collected by Tate (I present to you, His Royal Highness, of 2018), while last October, on successive nights, two of her paintings were bought at auction for more than £1m each – one, Myths of Pleasure, which exceeded 15 times its estimate. “I don’t know what that means, and I don’t want to know what that means,” said Vadogutemi shivering. in the next month About the rocket commercial value of her work very early in her career. This year, she Became represented by GagosianBillionaire art dealer Larry Gagosian, along with artists such as Damien Hirst and Takashi Murakami, seem to confirm her access to the art super league.
“Is this how these things work? You tell me!” She laughs. “I wanted to be with an exhibition that I felt represented my potential, and I also wanted to inspire young people and not let them be afraid of being in such a big exhibition, so why not reach for this higher thing? Especially as a black woman.”
This sense of ambition is exemplified in a huge, green, paint-scattered palette of three that I’m working on when I visit. It will be the centerpiece of Hepworth’s show. “When I was in college” – Imperial College London art, which I graduated from in 2017 – “The only thing I wanted to do was paint big paintings. I felt restricted to every space I had so far.” Fortunately, she now has a second studio “down the road, three times the size of this studio” and is able to “spill to the roof” the way she’s always dreamed of.
For Vadogotime, drawing is intense, both physically and emotionally. Her studio environment – which sometimes includes her childhood soft toys – is arranged so that she can get into the deep introspection she needs to draw, thinking about her school and early life, history, or how she feels about what’s going on in the world. Then she dances and runs on the canvas, climbs the ladder, weeps, occasionally interrupting to write in her diary. Often the working title for her comes halfway. She works alone, through the night, with her favorite soundtrack, and sometimes she can finish a painting in one night if she feels trapped. “It becomes a power that takes over,” she says. “I always like to call it magic.” Then, in the morning, she goes home to go to bed and her assistants come to get the studio ready so she can start over.
Raised in Ilford, East London, Fadugotimi is the eldest of three girls. Her mother is a government employee, and her father is a management consultant. The first artwork she remembers is a Monet print in the family home. She still loves Monet, as well as Cézanne and David Hockney and the American abstract artist Joan Mitchell – All color masters. She has always had an unusually enthusiastic response to certain forms. “We used to have yellow double-decker buses in Ilford and I never wanted to take the red bus. I had to take the yellow bus because yellow meant something to me in an abstract way.” Her favorite color is green, but she has a passion for many other things, all of which evoke certain associations. “I find it interesting that I’m addicted to this lipstick,” she says. “Every time I wear it, I feel more like myself.”
At the age of five, Vadogotimi started watching sailor moon, a Japanese cartoon on Fox Kids that describes it as “Aha!” Moment. Then when she was 12, a friend told her that all 200 episodes were available online. “And this is where my rabbit hole started.” Fadojutimi got heavily involved in the world of anime, much to the dismay of her parents. “As a child I was very depressed, and watching those stories made me feel it was okay to delve deeper into the feelings and not feel like it was a crime.”
I became fascinated by the way the graphics and soundtrack worked together to create an intense wave of emotion, but also by the “deep philosophical” story lines. “I remember watching an anime called Air and only crying for a week. My mom was like, ‘If you’re going to cry so much, I don’t think you can watch cartoons again.’ That’s when I was like, ‘Okay, I better suck tears.'”
Animation is still the primary influence in Vadogotimi’s paintings, an obsession that led her to learn Japanese, visit the country several times a year, and discover artists, like her all-time favourite. Makiko Kudogo to fan conventions, and do cosplay in a lolita costume—a subculture that is, she noted with some downplay, “controversial at times. But there was something that was also, to me as a woman, totally feminist about it. It was almost my shield. “.
It also seems that the anime has almost nothing to do with her upbringing as a black British woman of Nigerian descent. However, Vadogotimi insists on her right to express herself as she is, rather than having to represent someone else’s idea of blackness. “There have been a lot of people looking at my work and saying that it doesn’t look like I’m black. And I think, ‘Well, doubt that statement.’ My practice rejects labels and celebrates individuality without contextualizing someone into a category.”
However, she adds, one of the first emotions she drew upon when painting paintings in art school was the sense of displacement she experienced from the intertwining of two cultures: “Getting out of my home and being British – coming home and being Nigerian.” Her work shapes her identity, but ethnicity is part of her, not the determining factor.
Hepworth Wakefield’s painted panels are also inspired by feelings of displacement: “Thinking about that day when the temperature was 40 degrees, and the feeling of global warming was already happening, I wanted to have a conversation with nature.” She wanted to see if the painting could express the life force in the same way a tree does, and to explore how trees found healing during the pandemic. To clarify, she reads from her diary: “With the world as it is, I cry for their souls too. They live with us and yet are they appreciated? It can be hard to feel in a world where they are burning.”
There were other challenges now expressed in the paintings. The pandemic has “altered my mental health,” says Vadugutimi. When she arrived on her first post-Covid flight, she adds, “My body changed, my mind changed, and yet there was a soul inside me that wanted to fight that change.”
Last year, things reached a crisis point. “I just wrote a book too quickly one day and forgot to sleep.” She laughs. And everyone was like, ‘Oh no, there must be something wrong. “
In fact, Vadogotime was working a few nights without sleep, “because I enjoyed being an artist.” But, supposedly anxious, the doctors intervened – an intervention that the artist did not welcome. “Everyone had this fear that I was different, and I was like, ‘Of course I’m different — how do you think I make these paintings? “
Vadogotimi worries that if she is treated, she will not be able to access the emotions that inspire her work. “I am diverse in nerves, I know I have a nice list of characteristics. There are a lot of people out there who are going to tell you that there is this stat and that statistic and maybe we should help you to prevent you from falling for any statistic and I will resist saying, ‘I’ve been me for 29 years, I just “Why do you give me medicine that I mean I don’t feel? I’d rather drink green tea and watch my diet. I’d talk to health professionals in the studio and I’d cry and say, “Art is therapy too.” While in the hospital one time, she says, she was called for a treatment for The Way of Art.” “I’ve watched people in these places get caught up in this system and wonder, ‘Is it a healing process or is it a prison?’”
Vadogotimi insists that “painting has always been my savior” – the way she understands herself and the world. She says the paintings are her memoirs, expressing shock and pain, but also joyful connections with other people, and with nature, which is probably why they resonate so widely, not only in the art world but with young fans. She is often stopped on the street by people who say how much they love her paintings. The material she experiments with is constantly strewn about the studio as her work takes quick strides, from melting trays of pastels to rolls of masking tape. Full of color to support, the studio is where you feel at home.
One hopes that Gagosian, and all the other people around her, can give her the care she needs. But as far as its artistic purpose is concerned, Vadogotime is quite straightforward. When she thinks about the pandemic and all the suffering it has caused, she says, “I think about how privileged I am as an artist to be able to come into the studio and feel like I can breathe. I hope other people can look at my work and feel like they can breathe for a moment too.”