Oil paintings by Oluwole Omofemi that explore the politics behind black women’s hair

British artist Claudette Johnson spoke of the “fiction of darkness” that colonialism left in its wake and the need for people to affirm their identity through their own stories. Omofemi embraces this idea, focusing on the importance of hair among black communities.

Although it has always been a sign of status and identity, Omofemi looks back on recent history, the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s, and the natural hair movement. This encouraged blacks to eschew European styles for Afros, a move championed by popular icons such as Jimi Hendrix and Diana Ross.

In Omofemi’s work, hair is a metaphor for freedom. Sometimes it spills over the edge of the canvas, while in others it dominates the composition, becoming larger than the subject itself. Rendered in oils and acrylics, his paintings sometimes have simple primary color backgrounds, giving them a vivid Pop Art sensibility; in others, a darker mood is created, referencing the works of the old masters.

Omofemi is the first to exhibit at Signature African Art, a new gallery opening in London on March 11, 2020 with a display of new paintings. Her series, The Way We Were, will be displayed in the gallery’s basement and ground floor and consists of 12 large-scale portraits of women and children, as well as several smaller works.



Oluwole Omofemi, ‘Root III’, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 121 x 121 cm, 2019. Courtesy Signature African Art

Oluwole Omofemi, 'Omonalisa' Oil and acrylic on canvas, 121 x 121 cm, 2019. Courtesy Signature African Art



Oluwole Omofemi, ‘Omonalisa’ Oil and acrylic on canvas, 121 x 121 cm, 2019. Courtesy Signature African Art

Oluwole Omofemi, 'Root II', Oil and acrylic on canvas, 121 x 121 cm, 2019. Courtesy Signature African Art



Oluwole Omofemi, ‘Root II’, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 121 x 121 cm, 2019. Courtesy Signature African Art

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