Unity Earth: Liftoff Invites the World To Come Together on Feb 2, 2019

On the afternoon of Saturday, Feb 2nd, United Palace theater will host Unity Earth: Liftoff, a creative performance event supporting world peace. The stunning, interdisciplinary range of performances – helmed by Creative Director Rhiannon Catalyst – features legendary talents Akim Funk Buddha and Kristin Hoffmann, as well as international talent including British Reggae legend Pato Baton, and Chinese chanting artist Mystic Voice. Part of United Nation’s World Interfaith Harmony Week, Unity Earth at United Palace (4140 Broadway at 175th St.), Sat 2/2 from 3-6:30 pm, will both stun and delight audiences.
The impressive vaulted hallways of United Palace in Washington Heights
Unity Earth is an ongoing, multi-year initiative to present engaging, interdisciplinary events to promote world peace on an international scale. Catalyst, the event’s Creative Director, has produced events ranging from Figment Festival to Creative Tech Week and the Winter Music Conference. Her experience lends an eclectic, mesmerizing eye to the potential for creative wonder to promote intercultural understanding and respect.
Promoting messages from social justice and environmental awareness to healing and artistic expression, Unity Earth: Liftoff this Saturday, February 2nd will bring a portal of wonder to anyone open to the siren’s call.
Tickets available for $20:

Marking the Unseen: “HERE, DATA” by Gabrielle Mertz at SL Gallery

Wenesday, Jan 30th from 6-9 pm marks the opening of the exhibition HERE, DATA by Gabrielle Mertz at SL Gallery (335 West 38th Street, New York, NY).

An exhaustive look into the various ways in which data pervades our everyday lives, HERE, DATA re-imagines pathways by which these unseen interventions can be translated into an experiential, participatory artworks. Mertz possesses the uncanny ability to convey the process by which data gets transferred into stunning visuals and installation. Works that appear to be abstract and subjective actually express data sets, in some cases taken in real-time, augmenting and imaginatively capturing the nuances of the world surrounding us. A world that mostly remains invisible comes to life in HERE, DATA.

installation view of Gabrielle Mertz’s HERE, DATA, at SL Gallery (courtesy the artist)

On view through March 22, 2019, HERE, DATA brings news and film media into the physical realm. While some works are on view in the gallery itself, more works can be accessed via cell phone/tablet. Part of the artist’s Album series, these digital works bring an intimate, carefully structured viewing experience to the visitor.

Mertz is a New York-based visual artist and choreography who works across sound, light and installation. Her site-specific works have been exhibited in the US and abroad in Europe at a variety of venues such as the New Museum Ideas City, Cultural Center of Krakow, Rialto Center for Performing Arts and more. HERE, DATA remains on view at SL Gallery (335 West 38th Street) through March 22, 2019 – for further information, please contact Tony Long at the Gallery, or visit our website www.sl.gallery/

A Space for Oddities at Contra Gallery: David Henry Nobody Jr Opens Jan 31st

There’s room for every oddity and eccentricity imaginable at David Henry Nobody Jr’s upcoming exhibit, Fake Smears and Facial Food Fiascos, opens at Contra Gallery (122 W 26th Fl 6) in Chelsea, NYC on Jan 31st from 6-8 pm. David Henry Nobody Jr will present an irreverent and (slightly) grotesque portrait series melding the stylings of Flemish food art from the Dutch Golden Age of Painting with Contemporary Pop Photography. These “Resemblages” will blend the artist’s features with a fantastic array of produce and processed foods.

works on view as part of “Fake Smears and Facial Food Fiascos” at Contra Gallery (courtesy the artist)

 

Featuring an evening of live interactive performance by the infamous artist, Fake Smears and Facial Food Fiascos builds on a career the artist has sustained via his prominent artistic antics, including impersonating socialite Alex von Furstenberg. Creating sensational art in the vein of Andy Warhol’s Factory antics and Dada performance and surrealism, David Henry Nobody Jr slyly pokes fun at the highbrow views of the fine art establishment.

 

works on view as part of “Fake Smears and Facial Food Fiascos” at Contra Gallery (courtesy the artist)

An internationally renowned artist and provocateur, David Henry Nobody Jr. is based in New York City. His creative “actions” and objects include the “Human Weeble Wobble”, and in Nobody Jr. predicted the Trump presidency in his 1999 “Stalking Trump” series in which he tried to meet Donald Trump as many times as possible in one year. David is a founding member of the Fantastic Nobodies, a renegade/outsider/performance art collective, which was a collaboration of five artists from the years 2003-2013. The Nobodies have shown at Andrew Edlin Gallery and at WhiteBox gallery. David Henry Nobody Jr.’s work has been featured on the BBC, VICE, The Creators Project, Insider, Observer, and Whitehot Magazine.Fake Smears and Facial Food Fiascos is on view at Contra Gallery, 122 W 26th St Floor 6 from Thursday, Jan 31 – Feb 15, 2019.

Treat America Project a Refreshing Survey of Contemporary Artists Across the US

A camouflage-wrapped La-Z-Boy chair languishes on a fishing pier in Virginia. Rows of milk cartons line the refrigerated shelves in a Wisconsin grocery store. Views from across America feature in the photography which forms the basis of the migratory “Treat America Project”, a group exhibit curated by Jon Feinstein of Humble Arts Foundation and Jamie Martinez of The Border project space that features a single artist from each state across America. Featured on the @treatamericaproject Instagram page over the course of 2018, artists will have a chance to see their work shine in person at two spaces in New York City in 2019.

Treat America Project at Foley Gallery, Jan 9 through 13

 

Celebrating the diversity of the United States under a unified banner of creative artistic license, even during an era of stark political division, this wide range of artists – juried by Feinstein and Martinez – have translated their vision of their home states via compelling imagery featured on both the project’s Instagram page, Facebook page and website. The project makes good on its aim to bring art to the service of the greater good: each artist was invited to select a charitable organization, with a portion of proceeds of art print sales going to each cause. An exercise in contemporary art and goodwill, the Treat America project allows a window into this urgent hour of dialogue, exchange and creativity.

View of Oshkosh, Wisconsin for Treat America Project by artist Sherri Nienass Littlefield

 

The Treat America Project will be on view in New York City in two iterations: first at Foley Gallery, 59 Orchard Street NYC (Jan 9-13th, 2019) followed by an exhibit at OSNY Project Space, 417 W. 57th Street NYC (Feb 8-17th). The project is sponsored by Treat Gallery, an online exhibition initiative benefiting a wide array of emerging artists, businesses, communities and charitable organizations since its founding in 2016.

Works by Ruben Natal-San Miguel for Treat America Project, curated by Jamie Martinez and Jon Feinstein

 

Detail from image by Treat America Project artist for Tennessee, Kayla Caron

A Lost World Comes Alive at La Esquina’s Debut Exhibit by Paul Desenne

Celebrated Venezuelan-born cellist and composer Paul Desenne returns to his painting roots in “Pictures of the Lost World”, a series of works on canvas depicting the imaginary scenes of El Dorado. The exhibit, opening Tuesday, Dec 11 from 6-8 pm at La Esquina (203 Lafayette Street in Lower Manhattan) depicts the fabled lost world of gold and riches, documented by Spanish conquistadors in South America in the 16th century. Curated by Natasha Stefanovic of Beautiful Things Curated, Desenne’s artistic debut in New York City pays homage to the tales of the wealth and riches attributed to native peoples in the path of conquistadors traversing South America. El Dorado is considered by some to be hidden deep in the heart of Venezuela, and Desenne – born in Caracas – evokes the mythologies of this treasured legend. Desenne draws from this storied mythology to envision a world of expressive natural imagery as seen through the eyes of the indigenous folk who called the lands hiding El Dorado home.

Yopotime by Paul Desenne, oil on canvas. Image courtesy Beautiful Things Curated

Recently celebrated in performances at Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Desenne extends his celebrated flair for capturing delicate details in these lush, colorful works. The artworks are not only rooted in a strong sense of color, but also express the emotion of figures depicted in these figurative works. “I started a series of pictures adding layers of geographic realism and fictional narrative to the fantastic creatures imagined by European illustrators,” notes Desenne. “The maps and publications of this period depict all kinds of monstrous creatures springing from the medieval imagination, spurred by the unbelievable accounts of the newly explored continent.” In addition to careful research imbuing his paintings with re-imagined histories rooted in actual geographical formations, Desenne dissects the misunderstandings of Spanish conquistadors to pay homage to the actual citizens of South America, particularly his native Venezuela. Notes Desenne, “I represent the strikingly visual aspect of this New World: [a] land of projections, where the Eldorado is nothing but a hallucination of conquerors… I also work on the representation of possible scenes in familiar settings, such as the natives in the Yopo ceremony in front of the mountains in the valley of Caracas.” Desenne notes the significance of reclaiming native viewpoints in his works, observing, “the layers of landscape, narrative and speculation overlap and integrate on these thinly yet colorfully treated canvases, bringing the strangest lost worlds back to life.”

Don’t miss the debut of Paul Desenne’s “Pictures of the Lost World”, curated by Natasha Stefanovic, at La Esquina, 203 Lafayette Street, on Tuesday, Dec 11 from 6-8 pm.

Winter is Lit: Julia Sinelnikova’s Ice Pores at Lazy Susan Gallery

The cold, muted winter sky doesn’t hold a candle to Ice Pores, the upcoming exhibit by innovative rising star artist Julia Sinelnikova. The artist’s interactive holographic environments entice visitors to engage with sudden temporal realities created by installations of Sinelnikova’s Fairy Organ sculptures. Curated by Brian Shevlin, visitors to Ice Pores are invited to the exhibit on view Dec 13-21 from 12-6 pm at Lazy Susan gallery and to interact with a dazzling array of light-reacting, immersive sculptures. The exhibit opening on Dec 13 from 7-10 pm will include a performance by the artist and spoken word performance that will entrance the opening night crowd.

Detail from Chlorophycaea by Julia Sinelnikova

Sinelnikova notes of this new series of Fairy Organ sculptures on view at Lazy Susan the importance of engaging individual visitors to the exhibit, remarking, “Interaction with the audience is my primary
artistic focus, in an age when art is increasingly presented in 2D and digital formats”. The artist presents a multi-sensory feast of temporal pleasures, with shifting viewpoints resulting in mutable fantasies, environments of light and shadow enveloping the viewer. This changing sensibility reflects the mutable sensibility of fairies in Russian folklore, which the artist grew up with during a childhood in Russia. Beauty and illusion lure the visitor in, yet this experience is both dazzling and deceptive. When interacting with the work, Sinelnikova takes on a character called “The Oracle”: this alternate person is comprised of an otherwordly Sinelnikova, whose persona translates the artist’s installations through a handmade costume and alchemical processes.

Detail from Narkadine by Julia Sinelnikova

Sinelnikova lives and works in Brooklyn, and holds a BFA in Sculpture from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. The artist’s installations have been exhibited internationally, and she has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, VICE, and Artnet, among others. Huffington Post. Don’t miss the opening of Ice Pores on Thursday, Dec 13 from 7-10 pm to experience first-hand the mythical presence of the artist’s newest iteration of the Fairy Organ series.

Soft Power Takes Over Satellite Art Show in Miami

Power, like beauty, can lie in the eye of the beholder, so be prepared: SOFT POWER at Satellite Art Show is overwhelming to behold.

Taking place in Miami during Miami Art Week (Dec 6-9) at Satellite Art Show, at 18 NW 14th Street in Wynwood – just a stone’s throw from NADA –  SOFT POWER marks a once-in-a-lifetime experience for visitors. Satellite guests can encounter the transcendental sensation of two distinct site-specific installations by the art world’s brightest stars: Brooklyn-based artist Julia Sinelnikova and the Vancouver-based artist Zandi Dandizette. Featuring the intricate iridescence of Sinelnikova’s intriguing sculptures paired with the absurdist creations of Vancouver-based artist Zandi Dandizette, SOFT POWER exalts the queer aesthetic through the lens of amorphic creations referencing meme culture and Disney nostalgia.

Hypnotizing Crystal Forest installation by Julia Sinelnikova

 

Re-orienting the stunning brilliance of the queer experience to disorient the visitor in a dizzying array of forms and fields, Sinelnikova and Dandizette employ the concept of soft power to tantalizing effect. New sensorial surprises await the visitor at every twist and turn of the installation, with multimedia installations, soft sculpture, performances and more providing an unforgettable encounter with an artistic probe into the ultimate spiritual, nonbinary source: the origin of the creative spirit. Fostering a sense of intimacy, wonder and transcendence, Sinelnikova and Dandizette each realize independent exhibits in harmony within a 40-ft container space, bringing to bear the deep and lasting impression soft power can manifest.

Precipice by Zandi Dandizette

Formal elements of the exhibit transcend the physical by referencing aspects of rebirth and transformation, such as the cocoon and the cave. Both Sinelnikova and Dandizette, queer artists working within a conceptual approach, have created these site-specific art installations for Satellite Art Show as a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with a transformative art experience. Keep your eyes peeled for Cornelia Singer performing as a living doll on Dec. 6th & 7th at 7pm. Make no mistake – you’ll never encounter an immersive experience quite like SOFT POWER again, so don’t miss your only chance to interact with these works at Satellite.

Detail of “Open Shard” installation by Julia Sinelnikova in Joshua Tree, CA (March 2018)
Cradleworm (2018) Zandi Dandizette
Julia Sinelnikova
Zandi Dandizette

Akumal Arts Festival Kicks Off in Akumal, Mexico

Klonism, for Akumal Arts Festival in Akumal Pueblo, Mexico

Akumal Arts Festival kicks off Friday, Nov 9 in Akumal, Mexico. Situated on the Yucatán between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, Akumal is a long-standing diver’s paradise turned conservation area, with pristine white beaches flanking the beach-comber. With a dedicated local community, Akumal residents – with the guidance of Executive Producer Jennifer Smith (of Tortuga Escondida fame) & team – have pulled together Akumal Arts Fest. With a dedicated team of volunteers and staff, the arts fest welcomes over 70 urban artists from near and far to infuse Akumal’s streets with bright colors, detailed figures and incredible geometric design. With a line-up including artists Funqest, Davel, Rif Raf Giraffe, TooFly, Iena Cruz, Ivan Roque, and PawSki, among others, the 3-day festival kicks off a colorful new Akumal.

Ivan Roque for Akumal Arts Festival

Mayan culture permeates Akumal and the surrounding area, a locale held sacred by the Mayan people, and Akumal Arts Fest fully embraces this heritage. Honoring the legends of the past while welcoming contemporary artistic expression, Akumal Arts Fest meets at the boundary between past and future, firmly embracing the present and centered around community engagement.

Funqest (left) and Nate Dee (right) for Akumal Arts Festival in Akumal Pueblo

Activities over the course of the festival include street tours, art demonstrations, live painting, dance and martial arts. Everything kicks off at 5 pm on Friday, November 9 with activities interspersed throughout the weekend as per below. Public events will be held in the Akumal Pueblo, the Paseo de Akumal, at the park, bandstand, and
community center. Artists’ works adorn the town’s iconic overpass bridge, various municipal buildings, the park, and local schools. When Akumal Arts Festival concludes, the art will remain on view in Akumal for the foreseeable future.

The Other Art Fair LA: Five Standouts at the Fair Oct 26-28

Ah, the Art Fair: subject of intense scrutiny, disdain and even obsession in recent memory, art fairs have reached Olympian status as the enduring sign of success for participating galleries and art advisors. Exhibitors at the top fairs proudly display this status, shelling out thousands upon thousands to do so. Saatchi Art‘s The Other Art Fair (TOAF), however, is in a league all its own. A deftly curated selection of artists whose works are on view for collectors to savor, collect and gain insights (from the artists themselves!), The Other Art Fair marches to the beat of its own drummer. The fair is currently on at four different international locations: London, New York, Sydney and – most recently – Los Angeles (Barker Hangar – 3021 Airport Avenue – Santa Monica, CA 90405; hours Sat/Sun; Sat 11 am-8 pm and Sun from 11 am-6 pm).

That’s right – Los Angeles. Where better to savor genuine, talented and diverse selections of emerging art than in LA itself? A city that has truly embodied the buzz of ‘contemporary art’, LA has hit the scene and Saatchi Art is in on the secret – The Other Art Fair LA is currently on, with artworks on view through Sunday, October 28th. We took to the scene, and selected the five artists worth watching as rising stars that this current iteration of TOAF + an extra viewing experience, read all the way through to get to the fun bonus!

 

Erin Ko, Disconnected 004 – 11 x 14, Mixed Media, iPad painting + digital collage on Aluminum with Augmented Reality Layer, 2015

#1: Erin Ko (New York, NY) TOAF LA STAND #55

Erin Ko’s work reflects a masterful blend of emerging technologies and a talented traditional arts practice. Lying at the nexxus between memory and possibility, Ko creates magical, often immersive, experiences for fans of her work. Whether incorporating Oculus Rift into her practice or allowing viewers to experience Augmented Reality layers that supplement her dexterous paintings and mixed media collage, Ko never disappoints admirers of her work both old and new. Working across technology, urban art, mixed media and more, Ko’s artistic practice reflects something for everyone. Her work also incorporates strong impressions of feminism and inclusivity: often depicting strong women or growing girls reaching for their goals, Ko’s inspiring work reminds us that everything is possible if we dream.

Evincing a particularly keen eye for detail and balanced compositions that span from figuration to abstraction, Ko’s works have been exhibited both internationally in China, Europe and domestically in the United States. Ko will be part of the Akumal Arts Festival, taking place in early November in Akumal, Mexico, and she is part of the prestigious Milan-based artist group Krema Kolletiva.

 

Sammy Kimura, “Diner Girl”

#2: Sammy Kimura (Los Angeles, CA)

Based in Silver Lake, artist Sammy Kimura creates evocative artworks rooted in the human experience. Her impressionist glances of moments spanning her subjects’ lives results in vivid and otherworldly portraits. Allowing painterly gestures to delineate the space, Kimura’s soft-focus glow and warm tones invite the viewer to empathize with her subjects, encouraging the imagination and stimulating the senses.

 

 

Fei Alexeli, “Cosmic Holidays”, 2016

#3: Fei Alexeli (Thessaloniki, Greece)

Vibrant photocollages reveal a world of dreams in works by Fei Alexeli. Immediately Pop yet avoiding kitsch stereotyper, Alexeli’s fantastical compositions invite viewers along on a magical ride. Both visceral yet elusive, Alexeli’s expansive vistas enmesh viewers in enigmatic journeys worthy of Ford Prefect and Guardians of the Galaxy – with a decidedly Venice Beach twist!

 

Sanghee Ahn, “CAKED 532” 23.8 H x 28.6 W x 0.8 in, 2018

#4: Sanghee Ahn (Suwon, South Korea)

Fun Pop stylings and vivid colors permeate the works of Sanghee Ahn. Departing from the world of everyday objects into bubble-gum pink fantasies tripping down the gradient fantastic, Ahn’s works are simple, straightforward – and bright. Evoking landscapes yet focusing on Dada-esque journeys through everyday life, Ahn envelopes her objects in bursts of colorful abstraction.

 

 

Alex Voinea, “av_517” from Learning to Fly series, 2018

#5: Alex Voinea (Sitges, Spain)

Thoroughly contemporary, Voinea’s work seemingly leaps off the page. Abstract, bright and pulsing with rhythm, Voinea’s works make a bright yet harmonious contribution to any collection!  With international credentials spanning from exhibits in Spain, Italy, the US and beyond, Voinea’s vibrant works are making a splash, with both critical acclaim and popular opinion!

BONUS: The Other Art Fair LA, “31 Women” curated by Kate Bryan.

31 Women, a micro-exhibit at The Other Art Fair LA,  celebrates the 75th anniversary of The Exhibition by 31 Women, an iconic exhibition that took place at Peggy Guggenheim’s “The Art of This Century” gallery. Curated by Kate Bryan, Head of Collections for Soho House and Co, 31 Women is a mini salon-style show featuring 31 artists on view at the fair working across mixed media. Notes Ryan Stanier, founder of The Other Art Fair, “Women artists have been underrepresented in the art world for decades, so we are excited to be able to highlight a selection of talented, emerging women artists in this exhibition curated by Kate Bryan.” A bright, exuberant collection of some of the most compelling artists on view at the fair, 31 Women is a remarkable, one-of-a-kind experience awaiting viewers at TOAF LA.

Global Gateways: In Conversation with Contemporary Nigerian Artist Adetomiwa A. Gbadebo

Globetrotting, international philatropist, collector and artist Òmó Oba (HRH) Adetomiwa A. Gbadebo has demonstrated through his dedicated, multi-faceted career that he is one innovative artist. Unafraid to experiment with colors, textures and mediums while firmly rooted in a devoted spiritual core, Òmó Oba (HRH) Adetomiwa A. Gbadebo considers his artistic practice as a part of his wider mission to elevate African artists on the world stage. Òmó Oba (HRH) Adetomiwa A. Gbadebo frequently produces art exhibits and advocates for contemporary African artists in addition to his practice as an artist. Featured in solo and group exhibitions from Minnesota to Montenegro, New York City to Florence, Òmó Oba (HRH) Adetomiwa A. Gbadebo’s fearless approach to experimentation in his creative process is rooted in seeking harmony and balance and bringing the world to his culture on his own terms. We caught up with Òmó Oba (HRH) Adetomiwa A. Gbadebo in the days leading to his upcoming exhibit with Retro Africa at London’s 1:54 Art Fair, at London’s Somerset House from Oct 4-7, 2018.

Òmó Oba (HRH) Adetomiwa A. Gbadebo, Path of Oduduwa, 2015

ANTE. Thanks for taking time to meet with us! So far your work has been exhibited both in the US and abroad, in Italy, Nigeria, Montenegro, and soon at 1.54 in London. Can you explain how you hope different audiences perceive your work? Are there common threads across cultures that you hope your work speaks to? Is there a common universal language to your work?

OOAG. I actually don’t care about how they (others) perceive it (my work). It is none of my business how they see it, but the one thing is that they should not make up labels for it if they do not understand. They should accept their level of misunderstanding, or seek out knowledge from the artist directly, or seek out knowledge through the journey with the work or the culture from which the work stems from.

Meaning the culture of the artist, and his or her origin.

Quite honestly I don’t think I owe any other culture in the Western World any explanation of identity, or similarities.
I’m from a different realm, completely different civilization, the only thing I have in common with those outside my culture, “ Western Cultures,” is that I am a human being. Therefore it is my duty as living history of my culture and ancient history of my culture to teach others about my culture.

Accepting this difference means that one can come to a possible similarity culturally , which could help alleviate the ignorance of trying to force the notion of similarities in order to satisfy selfish desires. But if others choose to be ignorant about it (other cultures), they will fail their own cultures.

In conclusion this question does not justify my culture being significant. Therefore I say no to colonial mindsets and western perceptions of African people and its main indigenous cultures, I say no to neo-liberalism, neo-conservatism, and even socialism as a gateway to teaching my culture to those different from me. Frankly I think those concepts are poisonous to the creative world, while they also diminish the emphasis of the human being, or person.

There is no common universal language to my work. No to a common language, because my language is distinctive to my culture, and in fact an apex language that gave birth to others in terms of enriching the art and social practices of my people. There is a common sense to my work, which is the notion that what I create breeds life and sustains the spiritual creation of life. Which opens up the gateway for people to have permission to question their
previously acquired intellect.

 

ANTE. Your work across painting, sculpture and mixed media embraces both figurative and abstracted elements. Can you speak about your process and how these elements fit together? Do you incorporate the figurative and abstract to evoke different meaning, or are they integrally connected to communicate an overall message?

OOAG. My work is neither figurative nor abstract. It is an embodiment of spiritual knowledge and my purpose in this world. It does not succumb to categorization as figurative and abstract nor will I fit it into that institutional logic, in fact those things are limiting the honesty of the work.

These works, across all media, are a vessel: a catalyst for viewers to question everything around them, their ideologies, their manmade comfortability, and their logic around their preconceived notions. It is a very intellectual process and a very deep spiritual process, and it comes from within.

Òmó Oba (HRH) Adetomiwa A. Gbadebo, Untitled, 2017

ANTE. In your practice, you incorporate Yorùbá imagery within larger, complex compositions. Can you elaborate on the relationship of these individual objects and expressions to each work as a whole? Can you explain some of the specific symbolism used throughout your work?

OOAGIn the case of my creations, not all my creations, sculptures, drawings, or paintings have Yorùbá imagery. It would be very cliche and stereotypical to assume that all my works have Yorùbá imagery simply because I am from the Yorùbá kingdom. Although I am from this ethnic group, the essence of being Yorùbá is the ability to articulate ones ideas and thoughts in multiple honed ways, to better support a diverse narrative that goes within the culture,

Hence, my art reflects diverse narratives within my life, which incorporates, timeline (simply a diary of my life;
situations of my life) my culture, Yorùbá spiritual concept, and the way humanity treats itself in the positive and the negative. My work is a gateway for individuals and collectives to question their previously and recently acquired intellect. And also a testament in holding accountable the Western lens of false narrative surrounding African cultures globally. Which pushes for the relevance to the social importance and economic significance of African culture and art.

There is specific symbolism I can explain. The dots you see in my work, relate to my love of astrology and mythology and even a love for archeology since I was young. In time as I grew and was more self aware I realized that using the dots, even creating in a none present way, was a calling back to my origins, which would be Yorùbá culture with an emphasis on its spirituality and its spiritual concept, Ifá. It was a calling to focus on balance and how to be a better human in a world created by a nonhuman entity. I also often use cowry shells, which is a representation of Yorùbá spirituality and also a form of currency, and was something that was worn by the Yorùbá elites. This symbol itself represents one of the strengths of my culture.

If my works don’t have Yorùbá symbols, it does not mean that it’s not work coming from Yorùbá culture. My very being creating the work is the symbol of the Yorùbá people, with an emphasis on its contribution to collective human existence throughout time.

 

ANTE. Can you explain your journey into art-making as a career? Did you begin with painting then move to sculpture, or have you always worked in an interdisciplinary style? How has your practice evolved over time?

OOAGYes, I can. I don’t see art-making as a career. For me, it is destiny to create art to reach a higher calling. A higher calling that is predestined for me. I don’t even call myself an artist. It’s a boxed-up, contrived notion. What I am simply doing is adding to human history with positivity. But, if you would like to know, I, without any one person’s advice decided to use my art to make money. I always choose who I work with, not the other way around. I understood business and saw how business and art come together, and so, in that way it is a career, but it is not the primary concept I live my life by. I’ve been making art since I was a child, it’s a part of who I am. I didn’t really begin anywhere, I just have made what my soul tells me to, and the only place I began was my mother’s womb with the blessing of Olodumare.

Òmó Oba (HRH) Adetomiwa A. Gbadebo, Ifa Ni Oba, 2016,

ANTE. Which artists or artistic styles have impacted your work? Are there any artists whose work you admire who are working today, or artists from the past whose work you draw inspiration from?

OOAGNumber 1, I dislike Picasso. I do not have a specific style that has influenced me nor do I adhere myself to any movement. I feel that they alter the truism and purity of one’s work, and output in various social contexts. Although one could be influenced by many things and many cultures directly and indirectly, it is important to realize that we can still choose and invite those things to influence us or not. Choice allows one to be a purist in one’s craft. As an artist, and creator of art, it is disheartening, that as a African man in a global setting, that a past context is
often placed upon my present content. For example, the notion that by being African, you are influenced by Basquiat. Without anyone asking you otherwise, people assume this influence and time is spent dispelling it and breaking down the historical timeline of contemporary art that didn’t even originate with Europeans.

I don’t draw inspiration from any particular artist but definitely from the culture of my people and human existence; the turmoil, the discord, the peace, the love within humanity. I will say this, I am not influenced by, but I respect individuals like Julian Schnabel, his stance on artistic autonomy I respect. Also Fela Anikulapo Kuti, his creation and output to reach out and commonize the situation of people globally to be made aware to progress. And, also my family, the strength of my family, the strength of my grandmother, I draw part of my inspiration from them. As well as the strength of black people everywhere. Most of all my inspiration comes from Olodumare.

ANTE. What themes and concepts are central to your practice, particularly in regard to your
installation work?

OOAGMy work has no category, whether painting, installation, or drawings. To clarify: I don’t categorize my
work. It is merely a sole embodiment of my being. My history, my journeys and my origin. In terms of concepts; I ask for man to question everything, to selflessly try to produce solutions to sustain betterment other than for himself or herself. I have a conceptually strong focus on spirituality and how it’s significant for the development of our planet. And not spiritually in the Western fetishized sense where it’s more so about self indulgence and narcissism instead of selflessness and the reverence to its origins.I also the focus on the concept of iṣẹ, meaning work in Yorùbá language. iṣẹ (work) is very important to the Yorùbá people. The concept of work that is beyond the concept of work , if you get my point. Work is beyond it’s definition in Yorùbá language- its expansive to philosophy, the way you live your life. It’s expansive to how you sacrifice for your family, how you lead your people as a royal. It’s expansive to create a circle of balance.

Òmó Oba (HRH) Adetomiwa A. Gbadebo

ANTE. Supporting cultural, artistic and human rights are also important endeavors for you.
Can you share some of the initiatives, both in your home base of Minneapolis and
elsewhere, that you support that are important for you personally?

OOAGMinneapolis is not my home base. Nigeria is my home base. My country is my home base. The United States is part of my journey in my life.

I would tell you about my endeavors for the future and now. My endeavor for the present is to create paths for artistic philanthropy and build cultural bridges between the United States and Africa alongside the global art world and build infrastructure in my country (Nigeria) for people in need of infrastructural presence. For example, affordable homes for people in my country who are in need of homes or have been displaced and the push for cultural re-education to understand what it means to be African for the purpose of self-sustainability.

Part of what my philanthropy focuses on is African art, with special attention to traditional and contemporary Nigerian Art. I advocate for the preservation of African culture, specifically that of Nigerian cultures, even more specifically Yoruba culture. I support African artists economically and in a way that they are seen and respected as much as their Western counterparts. Not to say we need to prove ourselves, it’s more about educating the West to how we are relevant due to our own cultural experiences and adaptations. I collaborate with other like-minded peers who want to see the sustainable growth of Africa. This is necessary in keeping with the integrity of my vision and principles for how African art and culture is valued not only in the art world but beyond, and how it can teach and influence others beyond its cultural boundaries.

I am interested in expanding touristic outreach in the arts and cultural sectors by building a museum and galleries in my country. Focusing my energy throughout the educational, cultural, and economic sectors, all of this will be done within my philanthropic practice in collaboration with other African philanthropists and visionaries.

In terms of human rights, I advocate for cultural rights, specifically those of indigenous cultures to practice their cultures freely without Western intervention.