Kemi Onabule's paintings are a response to a world that seems to be in chaos; unravelling economic structures, overwhelming ecological destruction and the overturning of societal norms are causing many people to reassess their place in the world and to question ideas around belonging and identity. Her paintings aim to engage with this narrative in the form of a challenge, by showing a perhaps utopic yet layered view of humanity, using the female figures in the paintings she hopes to reimagine a world that is unburdened by the demands of modernity and a heavily overworked capitalistic framework.
she uses the natural world as another tool on her pallet. The lush, undamaged vegetation present in the paintings, some half remembered and some images painted from direct observation creates a background to re-imaging the role of the person when all of the indicators of modernity are taken away. The human figure as a method to express the connections between us.
Within the recent works she has drawn heavily on Yoruba Ifa religion looking particularly at the female deity Oshun, the deity of the river and freshwater, pleasure, sexuality and love. She is interested in looking at the close ties within other non-western societies to the environment and the visual languages that are used to further embellish these ideas and mythologies. It is a belief system that puts a heavy emphasis on the importance of women and their significance in linking humanity to nature. The works are a way of exploring our often- uncomfortable relationship to femininity as expressed by women, especially women of colour and avoiding the tropes of a the historical male gaze in painting. These works aim to place the viewer in a different world, one closer to their origins.
Wimbledon College of art: BA (Hons) Fine Art: Painting 2016
'They Catch Feelings, I Catch Bodies' 6th of June to 6th of July
Sim Smith Gallery
Hix Award 2017
Ingram Young Artist Prize 2017
'Autumn Exhibition 2016'
29th september - 15th October
Clyde & Co Art Award 2016
September 2016 - June 2017
Wimbledon College of Art BA Degree Show
‘The Contemporary Portrait’ 2015
Camden Image Gallery,
‘Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year Award’ 2013
‘A Little Book of Portraits’ 2014
Story Vault Films
‘How To Paint a Portrait’ 2014
Story Vault Films