Tomi Olopade is a young artist from London, currently studying Fine Art, at Leeds College of Art. Having previously pursued a career as a freelance Illustrator, he found himself gaining recognition from the musicians such as Joey Badass, and Maverick Sabre, resulting in him getting the opportunity to design an Album cover for Sabre’s sophomore album, “Innerstanding.”
Despite this opportunity, Olopade found he had his own perspectives, ideas and stories to share with the world, concluding that he was better suited to the world of Fine Art. After enrolling onto the course at Leeds college of Art, he spent the first year and a half honing his painting skills, researching the industry, and finding his voice as an artist.
My Work has always been focused on portraiture and the figure. My father commissioned portraits of my siblings and I, painted by the Nigerian artist El Dragg Okwoju, when we were babies. These paintings have been hanging in my house for as long as I can remember; as a child I spent a lot of time looking at them closely, from the colours, to the brush strokes, attempting to figure out how it was done.
I want to create work that explores people and their perceptions of other people. When I came to art school, I discovered a list of artists who centered Black people in their stories . Artists like Kehinde Wiley, Kerry James Marshal, Kadir Nelson and Barbara walker, were all making art about black people and challenging the way in which the world perceives them. I realised that growing up I rarely saw any art that I could relate to in this way, And that this was the place for me to start.
I remember seeing some of Wiley’s paintings and without ever even reading up on it felling as if I could understand what it is he was trying to do; the way he painted his subjects, elevating them above whatever assumptions and stereotypes society has cast on them.