Jadé Fadojutimi (b. 1993) is a British artist who lives and works in London. Having had perhaps the ideal education in fine art, graduating in 2015 with a BA from the Slade School of Art and completing a Masters at the Royal College of Art in 2017, she has gone on to become one of the most exciting and burgeoning artists on the abstract scene. Her paintings are visceral, emotional, and yet pensive. She describes it as a reflection of the absence of the self when constituted by category, equally drawing from her inner sanctum sanctorum as well as the external world. Jadé’s works have been displayed at the Pippy Houldsworth Gallery of London, the Galerie Gisela Capitain in Köln, and the Taka Ishii Gallery in Tokyo.
Fadojutimi grew up in Ilford, a suburb of North-East London. In an interview with i-D Magazine, she described her upbringing as insular; she subsisted on anime and movie soundtracks and was then, and still is now, introspective, and sensitive. She described her emergence into the world of fine art at the tender age of 18 as a period of insecurity and growing awareness. At Slade, she began to learn what it really took to become an artist. Becoming a successful one was a whole different story altogether. Now heralded as the “one to watch” in London’s contemporary art scene, her work is nascent and so ready to evolve that we can watch the impact of current affairs on her oeuvre as it develops. Over the pandemic lockdown, she pivoted toward new materials such as oil sticks, which are similar to pastels but are composed almost entirely of pigment. This allows the pieces to reach new highs of vividity and vibrancy – a necessary goal for artists competing for millennial attention in the world of hyper-saturated social media posts and digital art.
Jadé paints and draws with immediacy and raw energy that conveys love, rage, abundance, hatred, and despair depending on her mood. Many of her works deal with existential themes. My Fissured Glow (2020) is one of her least colourful, but still connotes a sense of radiance through its coral pink and ultramarine hues; the jagged, polygonal wanderings of her oil stick suggesting a displeasingly unkempt inward chaos.
On the back of her recent success, Fadojutimi has recently moved to a studio five times larger than her previous one in South Bermondsey, which she admitted she “treated like a bedroom”. Dotted across her workspace are diverse sources of inspiration – giant leafy plants, ostentatious chairs, frilly dresses, and most curiously, a collection of soft toys acquired during her time studying Japan. During her teenage years, she spent four-fifths of her time immersed in far-east Asian culture, and one fifth in reality. In an interview last August with Vogue, she linked her use of colour to an emergent and fluid conception of identity. But it was the experience studying in Japan that developed her rapid, unencumbered technique. She divides her paintings into those she works on for one session, and those she completes in two. All of her work is emotionally charged.
The anti-perfectionism that she cultivates in creating a piece is more than just a method: it replicates itself in the outcomes, too. Jadé’s paintings grapple with the power that others have over us, or rather, the trans-subjective interactions that arise from them. Alongside a pure and ideally conceived representation of phenomena – whether that be a heady mix of pain and beauty, or vastness and the failure to locate meaning – what comes forth in the mad scribbles and wild gesticulations of the brush is a rejection of totality. In channelling form as something elusory rather than illusory, she both embraces the dynamism that is befitting of her age and undoes the panoptic eye which seeks to examine, classify, and sort objects of perception into a vast system of control.
Above all, what Fadojutimi shows us is that art on a canvas can still excite us. It has been centuries since the invention of the camera, which, its progenitors told us, would be the death of the paintbrush. Yet what this young artist captures is something much more in line with realism than Gustave Courbet or Jean-François Millet. She finds the pulsating, shifting, oftentimes ugly organs of life, and excises them in all their vivid and vivacious glory.
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