Artist Spotlight: Atanda Quadri Adebayo

A selection of recent paintings by Lagos, Nigeria-based artist Atanda Quadri Adebayo. Describing painting as “a journey of self-discovery and realization” that allows him to “acknowledge the past and project himself toward the future,” Adebayo confronts the brutal colonial history of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade in Nigeria, while refusing to be solely defined by it. Exemplifying resilience, the figures in his paintings embody what he calls “an empowered vulnerability, or the result of finding bliss amidst the struggle.”

Adebayo found his way to art at an early age, experimenting with the chunks of charcoal that his mother sold to sustain the family. To this day, he uses charcoal to render the skin of his subjects as an homage to his personal history. Though for Adebayo, the most powerful and personal symbol of resilience in his work, is what he calls “the artist soul” motif: the repetition of an abstract pattern created by blowing watercolor on the canvas using a straw. Using his breath to paint, he creates a powerful metaphor for life, reacting to and reversing the utterance, “I can’t breathe.” He describes this process as “the ultimate symbol of both life and art.”

See more from Atanda Quadri Adebayo below!

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