A Place To Belong: Tunji Adeniyi-Jones
‘We all need a place to belong…we need to find out where we belong…it isn’t always where we imagine we belong but, once found, it feels right’ - Tunji Adeniyi-Jones.
As a first generation British Nigerian, Adeniyi-Jones seeks to explore his national and art historical heritage from his three homes; Nigeria, where his Yoruba family are from; Britain, where he was born and raised and America, where he now resides. This exhibition brings together cultural traditions and inspirations from these three sources, examining the artist’s place amongst and between them.
Whilst the figures in Adeniyi-Jones’s paintings seem weightless, unfurling in a transient, temporal space, there is a density to their forms rendered through pure colour and line. Adeniyi-Jones’s depicts his characters as androgynous, abstracted by their phasing physiology. The outlines of their shoulders and hips, hands and torsos alternate from male to female, rolling and curling in line with their leafy surroundings. They are a celebration of the black form, but also a cypher for its history of colonial depiction, repurposing a loaded iconography through the shuffling of its lines and features.
Adeniyi-Jones’s figures are portrayed as dancing, unfurling and reclining, some square to the picture plane, others on the three-quarter turn as if posing for the viewer. These coquettish, undulating subjects pose both in reference to West African performance and ritual as well as the European classical tradition. As such, they represent the artist’s own position as both the exoticised African subject and the European objectifier.
For this, the first exhibition in the land of his birth, Adeniyi-Jones continues to address the way in which West-African cultural history, mythology and aesthetics have circulated around the world and back again, be it via the Yoruba diaspora, European modernism or his own hand.
Tunji Adeniyi-Jones (b. 1992, London, England) lives and works in New York. He received his BFA in Fine Art from Oxford University and his MFA in Painting and Printmaking from the Yale School of Art.