Oluwole Omofemi, from Nigeria to the Olympus of art with a stop in Sitges

In 2020 the gallery owner Sorella Acosta I was looking for a figurative artist who would highlight the african woman beauty. The interest of this Belgian based in Sitges was professional, not in vain she runs a Gallery, Out of Africa, centered on the creation of the black continent. She didn’t get what she wanted until she came across on the internet with the work of Oluwole Omofemi (Ibadan, 1988). She fell in love with the pieces of this Nigerian artist: portraits of African women embodied in large and colorful fabrics. He did not hesitate and proposed to exhibit in the gallery with Rewa, also from Nigeria. The result was the exhibitionemancipation‘, held at the gallery in February 2021, and the beginning of Omofemi’s explosive rise in the Olympus of art. In short, two of the pieces that she presented at the show sold for 20,000 euros and in less than a year they were auctioned at Phillips and Christie’s for 120,000 euros (‘Methamorphosis II’) and 179,600 euros (‘Invader’).

Now repeat experience, until May 22, with all the awarded work before hanging it on the wall from the gallery. Collectors fight over it. Many sales were made at the pre-opening presentation it held in Barcelona, ​​on the exclusive Punt de Vistes 360 terrace, a spectacular penthouse set up for cultural and social events on Diagonal. And others were awarded among foreign collectors via ‘online’ before the opening. “It arouses a lot of interest, since the first exhibition we have sold 50 pieces by the artist,” explains the Garraf gallery owner. And that the prices are not within the reach of all pockets: between 30,000 and 80,000 euros. Omofemi’s main fans are in the United States, but Acosta says he also has French, English, Chinese, Spanish and, of course, Nigerian buyers. “In Nigeria he has become a kind of God & rdquor ;, maintains the gallery owner.

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‘Pas mal’ for an artist who sold his first painting to a Lebanese collector for 10 dollars and a real stimulus for this creator who practiced the most disparate trades since he was a child – from fisherman to itinerant beer vendor – to be able to afford the painting material. His was vocational and he did not give up despite a planned future to be an electrician. The neighbors of his community were the first to appreciate his talent and his grandfather the one who most insisted on the importance of preserving the legacy and customs of their land and in the need to appreciate it with pride. A cultural vindication that he pours into his portraits: always women and always with the intention of claim them. Hence the title of the exhibition. ‘A woman’s worth’, in reference to the song by Alicia Keys whose lyrics say “a real man knows a real woman when he sees her / and a real man just can’t deny the value of a woman & rdquor ;.

He does not paint models, but rather the women around him, whom he previously photographs and then reproduces with the utmost fidelity and blackness – including hairstyles and scarification – with the clear intention of challenge the concept of western beauty. Figuration, yes; but also a certain abstraction in the backgrounds in which the protagonists are framed. Also a mixture of techniques: traditional oil for the faces and acrylic for the rest with very strong colors. “It is this contrast that makes Omofemi’s painting contemporary and very current, and that draws so much attention from collectors & rdquor ;. After passing through Sitges, Omofemi’s work goes to the Volta fair in New York, and in the long run Acosta’s goal is to see this author’s creations at the Venice Biennale, together with great African artists such as Aboudia, Yeanzi, Armand Boua and Kaoli Nyamai, present at the current edition.

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