Kemi Onabule:Saw It Hang Down
Signed on reverse
Oil and oil pastel on canvas
46 1/2 x 35 3/4 inches
Kemi Onabulé paints in response to an uncertain world, weaving imagined utopias that mask a reality of ecological destruction and societal struggles. Influenced by the ancient cultures behind her Greek, English, and Nigerian heritage, Onabulé lifts aesthetic and symbolic aspects of her personal history to create a distinct visual language. The artist uses her medium to question ideas around belonging and identity, presenting imagined realities that appear pure and unblemished.
Saw it Hang Down (2020) pictures a fruit tree rooted on a grassy bank. Rendered in deep purples and blues, the tree’s branches sprout little cascades of red flowers, blooming across the canvas in vivid splashes of colour. Subsidiary branches and leaves weave behind the central tree, intertwining to create a rippling vertical movement. Here, Onabulé presents an unburdened landscape, bountiful and unfettered. Nature’s fertility is depicted as peaceful and protected, remaining in uninterrupted tranquility.
B. United Kingdom 1995
Kemi Onabulé explores the human relationship to nature and its changing role in our lives, our effect on it and the colonial histories that are intertwined with our current ecological predicament. She is influenced by her Greek, English and Nigerian heritage and their ancient cultures, taking aesthetic and symbolic aspects from each to create a visual language that moves across the various mediums she uses.
Her work is a response to our chaotic world, particularly in relation to belonging and identity in light of unravelling economic structures, overwhelming ecological destruction and the overturning of societal norms. Onabulé’s paintings challenge these notions through the creation of utopic environments. Central to this is her depiction of the female figure, which she uses as a symbol to re-imagine the world unburdened by the demands of modernity.
Onabulé (b. 1995) graduated with a BA in Fine Art from Wimbledon College of Art in 2016. Her work has been exhibited extensively in London and she has been included for a number of awards including the Hix Award and the Ingram Young Artist Award in 2017.