Tope Fatunmbi
Tope Fatunmbi was born in South Nigeria to educationist parents in the seventies, and now based in Ibadan. Tope Fatunmbi’s optical portrait paintings of the hairstyles of Yoruba (South Nigerian) women look to empower and embolden those who are in many ways the pillars of Yoruban society. Luscious, flowing patterns suggest a freedom reflected in the hairstyles which are not only fashion statements but also tribal identifications. However, these Op Art style patterns also in some way erase these women, suggesting they are somewhat overlooked and under appreciated. Pushing against this notion, Fatunmbi renders their clothes and bodies in thick textural paint to elevate these women above the flatness of the canvas and image. Growing up Fatunmbi’s grandmother worked as a barber in Ibadan and Fatunmbi likened the process and energy of weaving these hairstyles to making an abstract painting - something which inspired the development of Fatunmbi’s unique brand of abstracted figuration.

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