UNTITLED, Miami Beach: Dec 5 – 9, 2018
Two-Person Exhibition: Babajide Olatunji & Adeniyi ‘Niyi’ Olagunju
(November 8, 2018) ---- TAFETA is pleased to announce a two-person exhibition at UNTITLED, Miami
Beach featuring multi-media artwork by Nigerian artists Babajide Olatunji and Adeniyi ‘Niyi’ Olagunju.
Both artists confront cultural exclusion in Western art histories by symbolically contextualizing imagined
visual narratives based on underrepresented artistic lineages rooted in traditional African art. The
juxtaposition of Olagunju's sculptures reflect the international trade of African art, while Olatunji's
photorealistic drawings of tribal scarification markings inform the viewer of the multilayered intersections
of ancient Eastern art practices now reflected in contemporary art. The 2018 edition of UNTITLED,
Miami Beach takes place on the beach at Ocean Drive from December 5th through December 9th.
Olagunju’s contemporary appropriation of traditional Baga Nimba shoulder masks of Guinea continues his
exploration of global trade and what he describes as the "commoditization of everything.” The sculptures
are bisected vertically and each half is cast in metal and reconnected to the original wood sculpture. In
the case of “Baga Nimba (Gold)”, the metal half was cast in bronze and hand-gilded in 22 carat gold leaf.
This series questions the value system driving the continuing growth in the sale of traditional African
artifacts. Baga Nimba sculptures, while originally made and used for specific tribal functions, are now
valued for their prices alone, based on Western ideas around provenance and rarity.
Olatunji's long-standing series "Tribal Marks" is informed by facial scarification marks, an art practice
traditionally used for beautification and family lineage purposes traceable back to early Egyptian times.
The hyperrealist multi-media portraits are based on an informal interview process conducted by Olatunji
with mark wearers, with the morphological characteristics created from an exhaustive study of faces and
used to determine the fictional narrative the artist contributes to the photorealistic portraits that support
Adeniyi ‘Niyi’ Olagunju holds a National Diploma in General Art from Yaba College of Technology in
Lagos, Nigeria and a BA Fine Arts (Hons) degree from St. Anne’s College, University of Oxford, UK, with
concentrations in Art History, Studio Art, and Visual Theory. He was one of the privileged few to benefit
from an Oxford University scholarship, which he received in the years 2006 to 2009. He then attended
Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, US, where he obtained an MA in fine arts, with
specialisation in sculpture. Before taking his degree in Oxford, Olagunju served with the British Army
from 2002 through 2006, with service postings in Basra, Iraq, and Northern Ireland. He lives and works in
Babajide Olatunji received his degree in Botany from Obafemi Awolowo University in the ancient city of
Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria in 2012. His hyperrealist drawings of portraits form part of an ongoing series
depicting people living in West Africa with scarification marks. Already considered a young master,
Olatunji is primarily known for the exquisite realism of his drawings, which demonstrate psychological
insight, exceptional technical skill, and awareness of tribal culture. His large-scale pastel works were first
exhibited in London at TAFETA Gallery in 2014. In 2017, his work was included in the Royal Academy
Summer Show, London, UK, Art X Lagos in Nigeria, 1:54 Contemporary Art Fair, Somerset House,
London, UK, Scope Basel, Switzerland and Cape Town Art Fair, Cape Town, SA. He lives and works in
TAFETA was originally set up as an art-consultancy in 2005, it was re-constituted as a gallery
specializing in 20th century and Contemporary African Art in 2013. With a previous background in
Financial Services, Ayo Adeyinka, the founder and director, advises and works on behalf of a number of
important private and corporate collections of Modern and Contemporary African Art.
Located in Fitzrovia, London, with a project space in Lagos, TAFETA remains the leading purveyors of
some of the most important 20th century artists of African descent (Ben Enwonwu MBE, Ablade
Glover, Susanne Wenger, Muraina Oyelami, Gebre K. Desta et al.)
Continually seeking out new talent in the contemporary space, TAFETA has also placed younger
emerging artists in important private and institutional collections, and is privileged to represent renowned
names like Yinka Shonibare MBE among other prominent artists on the African continent.
Artist Liaison: Alaina Simone
Director: Ayo Adeyinka
+44 7811 435626