Three young black British artists boldly revisit the world around us


Adébayo Bolaji’s vibrant and metaphorical artistic language centers on the dialogue of change and self-concentration within society. His work deals with the negotiations between identity and art. “My identity is rooted in self-knowledge. Not labels or groups, but a deeper spirituality that is constantly in tune with the world around it, ”said Bolaji. “The world has created identities for me… Black man, man, African, British African, artist. Labels can support the story, but they’re not the story. Indeed, we can place Bolaji’s instinctive and expressive practice within the parameters that art history has carefully provided, but that would be doing the work a disservice. You have to look, look again, then look at yourself and look to the future, to realize the full potential of these artists and the genre.

Lee Simmonds seeks to “dialogue with ideas and with infinity” with his highly symbolic and tender figuration. “Creating paintings entirely from your imagination takes a lot of work,” he told me, “but when I really start to get down to it, I basically play The sims. How am I going to design this lamp? Do I want him to wear pants or overalls? Who is invited to this party? There is a sense of the bizarre in its realistic and magical suburb. The scenes are sweet and cozy, but at the same time disturbing. Perhaps Simmonds’ work expresses a grim irony that represents the ease of complacency – and how that ease is afforded only to some and not to all.


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