Specialist, Post War & Contemporary Art
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Specialist, Post War & Contemporary Art
Head of Department, New York, Post War & Contemporary
Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London
Private Collection, Europe
Acquired directly from the above by the present owner
London, PEER Gallery, Jadé Fadojutimi – The Numbing Vibrancy of Characters in Play, 2019
Jadé Fadojutimi's paintings are orchestral feats of gestural abstraction. The surface is never static. The pigment is a translucent film through which we glimpse the riddled underbelly of the composition. When standing in front of A Declaration of War it is hard not to feel the painting coming ever-forward, encroaching on your field of vision with each swath and strike of the paint by brushes and fingers that render lines with a silky glide. She is surely one of the most talented painters of her generation and A Declaration of War a fervid masterpiece – one of the finest examples to come to market.
A Declaration of War is a testament to the maturity and versatility of Fadojutimi's talent. Compositionally, she strikes an unfaltering balance between energy, detail, line, and the more intentionally drawn passages of mark-making that wrest natural forms from the pictorial field. Few painters can do this: to implement gesture and forcefulness without being contrived nor undermining the imagistic integrity of the work. Cecily Brown can do this. Joan Mitchell practically invented this. With its roots in the Impressionist school, these refracted structures lend an organicism and vibrancy that conjures the ripples and reflections of Monet's Nymphéas, wherein the depth of field is constantly shifting between the perceived surface of the painting, the water, the reflection, and the lilies that brake every plane of that same vision. Fadojutimi's more technical layering delivers a sonata whose melodic construction extends the aesthetic reach of these inspirators.
Still more so, color cannot be overlooked in the present work. What appears initially as a uniquely inky canvas, A Declaration of War unravels in ribbons and petals of violet and yellow, crimson and sapphiric blue. Through the smallest intonations and gradations, Fadojutimi carves out form, striates and shades. Her brushwork is aqueous and nimble, it defies the scumbling of the canvas' grain – it is a painter's delight.
What is the titular war that Fadojutimi is waging? We might believe it is one that strives to balance the scales of abstract painting, fusing the expressive with the individual. Certainly, Fadojutimi is of a generation for whom identity is not just an artistic question or a matter of stylistic choosing but is the very battleground on which the most serious socio-cultural and political issues continue to play out. Undeniably, it lends a stark and assertive tone, one that does not go unheeded in the context of the day's headlines.
Her prodigious rise to solo exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami and The Hepworth Wakefield in 2021 and 2022, respectively, less than five years after her graduation from the Royal College of Art in London, are but one testament to her groundbreaking practice that has collectors and major institutions looking to acquire the best examples of her work. In residence at the LUMA Foundation in Arles, France, in 2023 – a city beloved of Picasso, Gauguin, and van Gogh for its southern light and Roman arena that played host to la corrida – Fadojutimi's practice continues to inspire promise and thrill, tackling the same landscapes as those one hundred or more years prior.
Beyond museums and markets, there is little doubt Fadojutimi is a painter of the highest caliber. Her paintings are expansive and expressive; she regards them as "emotional landscapes" that navigate the terrain of the psyche, the color of thought. Like the monumental canvases of Julie Mehretu or those of Cy Twombly, A Declaration of War is script-like in the clarity with which its visual language gives way to an implied landscape. The markers, symbols, lines, and dashes punctuate the flow of colors and strokes, hemmed in by the luscious corners of velveteen black and navy blue.
With works residing in major museum collections that include the Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Tate Collection, London; and the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C., there is little doubt in the longevity of Fadojutimi's standing. Her paintings demonstrate her unrelenting virtuosity and promise. Few artists are gifted with an eye and a hand as deft as Fadojutimi is, and A Declaration of War is one of those rare canvases that captures the overwhelming brilliance of her talent.