Texts - Poetry and Painting

Thoughts on 'The Numbing Vibrancy of Characters in Play' an exhibition at Peer Art Centre of paintings by Jade Fadojutimi on show from 1 February - 6th April 2019.

I walk into the beautiful glass fronted gallery space with its elegant pure white walls and 6 large canvases fill the rooms and expand outwards. Some of them offer a polite invitation for you to join them, to step in and look around, others grab you by the throat and insist on your attention. They stay with you too, stepping off their stretchers into space, leaving an indelible stain on your mind.

They are as fresh in my head now as when I saw them - in fact they are still alive and leaping - there is a touch of Alice in Wonderland about it. The over all impression is one of electricity. This is high voltage painting.


In the exhibition booklet the artist issues an invitation 'lets play a new game' and the paintings also do this in a visual way. They challenge you to step into their super charged world. It is impossible not to be lured in... it feels edgy , borderline dangerous but they are irresistible.

'Turmoil' 200 x 190 cm is a deep velvety web of marks, like a matrix of thoughts. Its composition draws you in and pushes you out to the edge in a sort of constant push pull. It is a mass of pounding, pulsating energy. It is claustrophobic as though something is hemmed in and alive, held there by invisible magnetism.

All of these paintings feel like being inside a head space; an abstract virtual reality. They wrap you in multicoloured sound and movement...it is not so much like looking at paintings as participating in an energy exchange of some kind. This exhibition carries you away into  a world of creation, it is intense and vibrant. Thrilling and extremely uplifting. The close up blobs and shiny lines of paint with their seductive veils and semi transparent allure appear less like pigment and more like lifeblood.

'We will become transparent once again and cling onto the tears that roll down our very bodies, persuading us to keep searching' the words in the pamphlet remind me.

It strikes me that Fadojutimi's writing focuses on the dark and empty, fearful, sad moments in existence more than her paintings. There is a dialogue between her words on the page and the paintings. They reveal their true vulnerable selves only when placed side by side. I recognised these as paintings from a subconscious place, full of life, literally...the struggles and questions, the curiosity and fun, total joy and abandon sits beside gut wrenching fear. Luscious shiny pigment and a direct, rapid application of paint make these paintings fascinating to get up close to. Every mark fresh and alive. They remind me how powerful paintings can be. They are inspiring and enlightening. Writing  mines different seams than painting in the creative brain and I think Jade Fadojutimi 's practise is enriched by it.

The characters in play are a complex bunch. Like a concoction of flavours that revive your taste buds, these paintings do not just do a fine job as pictures they do it with real style and pizzazz. These characters are wrestling with deep questions about identity and belonging with such complete joie de vivre and sheer guts that they refresh your soul.


© 2019 Alison Critchlow