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Exploring the Fragility of Humanity With Nigerian Artist Janet Adebayo

Adebayo Navigates Personal Realms through the Canvas in her Online Show

Image of Nigerian Artist, Janet Adebayo
Nigerian Artist, Janet Adebayo

In our ongoing pop up online exclusive, 'The Fragility of Humanity’ featuring Nigerian artist Janet Adebayo. The artist delves deep into the intricacies of human existence, Adebayo's artistic narrative unfolds, encapsulating the delicate embers of familial bonds, personal evolution, and the transient essence of life itself.

Since her artistic inception in 2017, Adebayo has navigated an evolution, using acrylic and mixed media on canvas to weave her distinctive 'mosaic skin' tones, creating figures with exaggerated features, and more recently, exploring the rich traditions of acrylic on traditional scroll. Her journey began as a quest to play with colours and figures, evolving into the development of her current signature skin technique which infuses abstractive forms with her own representation of the human figure.

Adebayo finds inspiration in artists like Ndidi Emefiele and Tracey Emin. Tracey's vulnerability in storytelling and her courage in the face of criticism resonate deeply with Adebayo's own artistic aspirations. Meanwhile, Ndidi's boundless creativity serves as a guiding light, emphasising the importance of unbridled artistic expression. Adebayo's hometown, Lagos, also plays a pivotal role in shaping her work. It's a place where societal indoctrination has deeply influenced her family, challenging her to confront and critique conventional beliefs and lifestyles. This ongoing struggle to challenge societal norms has become a wellspring of inspiration, fuelling her research and quest for artistic self-expression. Adebayo represents this experimentation in her works but painting by intuition, intentionally omitting painting certain areas of her figurative drawings.

Exploring the Fragile Essence

At the core of Adebayo's artistic expression lies personal connection—a confessional journey layered upon the canvas. Her paintings, marked by evolving techniques notably featuring her trademark "mosaic skin" and exaggerated features, serve as visual echoes of her innermost emotions and experiences. Drawing inspiration from her daily life, Adebayo navigates recurring themes of self-discovery and consciousness, her acrylic on canvas paintings serving as a reflective probe into the patterns that have woven the fabric of her very existence as a young woman living in Africa.

Journeying through Identity and Familial Dynamics

Adebayo's introspective gaze doesn't falter when contemplating the intricacies of 'Family Dynamics,' a thematic cornerstone deeply rooted in her personal history - constantly probing the patterns that define her life. "Family Dynamic" emerges as a central theme, offering an insight into her background and the complex dynamics that have shaped her worldview. This thematic recurrence within her creations reveal the complexities ingrained in her upbringing, shedding light on societal indoctrination and its influence on individuality. Viewers are invited to ponder on What does it mean to be human in a world entrenched in societal norms and expectations?

Reflections in Canvas: Insight into Select Works

In works such as "Amen" and "I soaked my pillow," Janet explores the dynamics of family love, loss, and conflict. She also examines the ways in which family can shape our identities and influence our lives; touching on emotional turmoil, spotlighting personal struggles and confrontations within familial realms and love interests.

Another key theme in the exhibition is the process of self-discovery and personal growth. In her paintings "I’ve been dying to call you" and "I prayed 9000 times," Adebayo explores the challenges and triumphs of navigating modern life, seeking divine intervention and contemplating the weight of repetitive prayers. She also reflects on the importance of finding one's own voice and living authentically in a fast moving world.

Our Interview with Lagos-Based Nigerian Artist, Janet Adebayo
An image of Nigerian Artist, Janet Adebayo in her home studio. Image courtesy of the artist. Lagos Nigeria
Nigerian Artist, Janet Adebayo in her home studio. Image courtesy of the artist.

In our sit down with the artist, Janet Adebayo shares the deeply personal...

How did you discover your artistic style? and what inspires you?

I discovered this style in 2019 but it was not fully defined. Permit me to say I’m still even growing on this approach because I really don’t want to limit myself. I enjoy the thrill.

All I wanted to do was to play with colours and figures, then it turned out that i found fun in putting different shades of colours together, creating depth & harmony and calling it mosaic skin. Exaggerating the head added to this option and I had to eradicate drawing the eyes cause I disagree with the fact that the “eyes is the only window to the man’s heart” then what type of life do you make out for blind people who are going through phases bottled in body movement?

Also good and bad experiences also inspire my works.

Are there significant elements from your upbringing that influence your art?

Yes. I strongly believe my family is a victim of indoctrination by society and belief. This has made them close minded. This struggle to criticise some beliefs and lifestyle has opened the way for more research and this research has largely inspired my work.

Are there recurring/core themes in your work, or any that have emerged as your work has evolved?

My reoccurring themes are formulated around Self discovery and Consciousness - because for someone who’s trying not to repeat patterns I constantly check myself and so far, I’ve been painting the areas I’ve messed up. Another study that reflexively has me painting it over and over again is ‘Family Dynamic’, I’ve not been able to get over the presentation of works around this. I’m drawn to always talk about my background.

What ultimate messages do you hope to convey in your creative expressions?

The ‘Substance of Individuality’ - this is what we’ll all settle for after all. But there’s no way you’ll achieve this if you don’t battle your way in. We need to do the work. We need to discover what is important about ourselves to keep going. Imagine a world where everyone has a grip of their identity.

What are you currently working on?

I’m working on a project titled “Introspecting the Journey”. I'm trying to do a documentary of my parent’s s childhood experiences till the adult phase and how their background has influenced who they have grown to become. Using their story to create a sense of urgency for myself and others in the same predicament.”

Home Studio Image Janet Adebayo. Image courtesy of the artist
Home Studio Shot of Janet Adebayo.

Urgency in Self-Discovery

Adebayo’s creative expressions embody a clarion call, urging us to reflect on our own journeys of self-discovery. The artist's ongoing project, "Introspecting the Journey," further underscores the urgency of understanding the roots that shape our identities—a visual expedition tracing parental influences and their impact on personal growth.

As Forme Femine Gallery extends its digital corridors to showcase Adebayo's narrative, viewers are prompted to contemplate the fragility and resilience inherent in human existence.

"The Fragility of Humanity,” invites us to contemplate the questions that Adebayo's work raises. What does it mean to be human, and how do we navigate the fragility of our existence? Can we truly embrace our individuality and identity in a world defined by societal norms and expectations?

Adebayo's exhibition serves as an artistic odyssey—a mirrored reflection of the human condition in its most intricate and vulnerable states.


Exhibition Details

Ongoing till December 5th, 2023 Via the world's leading marketplace for art.

Janet Adebayo in her Home studio, sitting next to her Acrylic on Canvas painting - Amen.
Janet Adebayo in her home studio

About the Artist

Janet Adenike Adebayo (b. 1997) is a self-taught Nigerian artist, born and based in Lagos.

She refers to herself as a "confessional" artist, with her art as an extension of herself, expression of intimate moments, openness of truths and feelings others may be otherwise shy to confront.

She began her journey as a painter in 2017, expressing herself using acrylic and mix media on canvas, employing techniques such as her signature "mosaic skin" tones, fusing a collage of colours to create humanoid figures, made obvious by exaggerated features and recently adopted expressing herself with acrylic on traditional scroll.

Adebayo’s work is an extension of herself, paving the way for personal development. Her work is largely inspired by traumatic events, her everyday life, and the dynamic nature of family ties. She paints her reality, sometimes the counterparts of negative emotions and experience in other to create fantasies that evoke a sense of belonging and momentary escape. Her current works showcase her perspective on subject matters such as family as a unit, pain and bereavement, the idea of masculinity, self-awareness and appraisal

She obtained her Higher National Diploma from the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, Nigeria where she studied Food Science and Technology (2018) and obtained a training diploma from Double R Studio under the mentorship of Rahman Rasak. (2017) for her artistic background.

Adebayo has participated in several exhibitions, including: Transtemporal Travel by Nomadic gallery 2023, Identity by 1952 Africa (2022), Spectrum by Dica Art Gallery (2022) and Contemplation by Yenwa Gallery (2022).


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