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Faces behind the Kindred Spirits exhibition


On May 1, 2023, Kindred Spirits, an exhibition of 32 paintings and mixed media, opened at The Wheatbaker Hotel Ikoyi, Lagos.

The joint exhibition is a must-see for many reasons, especially because of the personalities behind it.

First, it is an artistic showcase by Tayo Olayode and Ade Odunfa, two experimental artists.

Again, it consolidates on the 25 years of artistic collaboration of the two artists, who are both graduates of Fine Arts from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kaduna State.

Meet the artists:

Born in 1970, Tayo Olayode is one of Nigeria’s most exciting experimental artists, who graduated from Ahmadu Bello University with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art in 1998 with a specialization in painting.

Olayode’s oeuvre includes paintings, sculptures, tapestries and large scale sculptures in public spaces in Nigeria, utilizing diverse media including found objects such as rubber slippers, charcoal and metals. His fascination with unique textures and unusual applications led him to experiment and utilize complex techniques and styles.

Olayode explores materials and methods, through an emphasis on line and color, with an aesthetic language that spans abstraction, realism and surrealism.

As a young artist he was privileged to have been mentored by leading African artists including Professors Abayomi Barber, Jerry Buahri, and Ablade Glover, and celebrated realist, Abiodun Olaku.

Olayode’s work has been featured in yearly local and international auctions and exhibitions, and his pieces are in numerous important private and institutional collections. He has done numerous important commissions including the Eco tree at the Lagos state governor’s office in Alausa, created for the Lagos@50 project and the Mega pipe at CMS walkway CMS Marina. Olayode is a co-founder of the Iponri Art Studios, the President of the Watercolour League, and a member of the Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA).

Olayode has co-curated exhibitions in Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya. He was the winner of the Terra Kulture/Ford Foundation art award for the Best Young Artist in Nigeria (2006) after which he spent three months in Ghana under the tutelage of Professor Ablade Glover. He also won the Arthouse Foundation Scholarship to take part in a residency at the acclaimed Vermont Studio Cultural Exchange Program in 2014. He has received numerous awards including being the recipient of the Association of Fine Art Students (AFAS) Leadership Award as AFAS President in 1997 – 1998. Olayode lives and works in Lagos.

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“As a versatile experimental artist, I thrive on finding solutions to complex creative problems by trying to solve difficult visual interpretations. I research and enjoy exploring diverse materials and methods to create dynamic, unconventional works. My visual language is distinguished by my use of lines, hard edged composition, and spot colors”, he said in his artist statement for the ongoing exhibition.

Ade Odunfa


On his part, Ade Odunfa was born in 1973. He is a Nigerian experimental artist whose unique style of painting on vintage textiles has earned him a keen following. For the past 25 years, Odunfa has worked as a painter, sculptor, furniture designer, and creator of impressive large-scale installations and sculptural commissions in public places for the Lagos@50 project. His fascination with art and performance led him to work as creative director of the Lagos Carnival from 2008 to 2015, designing and building the large, colorful floats which expressed the spirit of Nigerian cultural heritage with contemporary aesthetic.

Odunfa’s passion for art started in early childhood, leading him to train as a graphic designer at Hunters Publicity in Lagos after high school, before pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria. He graduated in 1998 with a specialization in painting, and has exhibited regularly with the Iponri Art Studios, The Society of Nigeria Artists (SNA), Terra Kulture, Thought Pyramid Art Centre Abuja, Notting Hill Carnival, Calabar Carnival, and many more for the past 25 years. Odunfa is a gifted portrait artist, juxta-posing his subtle, minimalist style against unusual textured surfaces using lace fabric, belts, spoons, and other found objects. His fascination with painting equestrian scenes was influenced by the traditional Durbar festival in Northern Nigeria, which he enjoyed documenting as a young artist.

Odunfa is also passionate about mentoring and inspiring young artists. He is the founder of ‘Faces and Phases,’ a non-profit art initiative, which offers training programs to develop the artistic skills of young Nigerians while providing an important platform for them to exhibit their creativity to a wider audience.

Some of Odunfa’s notable works include; ‘Eja Nla I’ a 70 ft long fish at the Abraham Adesanya roundabout, Ajah; Ejanla II,’ a school of small fish at Oworonshoki Midian; ‘Football Forever” at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere; ‘From Ebute,” a 30 ft tall indigenous life-size wooden canoe made in fiberglass along Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, Ikeja; ‘Fishing in the Sky’ at the departure terminal – Port Harcourt International Airport, which covers over 300 square feet.

Others are: Lagos State carnival art installations (2008 – 2015); Eko 2012, 18th National Sports Festival opening props and Calabar Carnival (Seagull Band 2012).

The exhibition, which opened on May 1, 2023, will run until June 30, 2023 at the Ikoyi, Lagos-based Wheatbaker Hotel.