Adebayo Bolaji

Interview by Jimon

  1. Where do you reside and work currently?   I live in London and work from my home studio in South East London.
  2. Did you study art or is it inherent? It’s inherent, inherent is a good word. I actually trained as an actor at the Central School of Speech and Drama and studied law however being an artist is what I am. 
  3. Adebayo Bolaji, one word to describe him? Chanticleer
  1. Do you remember the first piece of art that captured your imagination? Not referring to the medium I work in, it would have to be John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’ or simultaneously Keith Jarrett’s ‘La Scala’ album. I was a teenager at the time and not listening to what all my friend’s were typically listening to in the 90s. My brother John (a musician) got me hooked on Jazz it literally changed the way I looked at everything.
  2. What is the source behind your paintings, where do they come from? You know, there are typically a lot of social – ecological, intellectual responses for such a question. e.g. politics, society, history etc. But essentially it comes from me. I mean that, whether one likes it or not we are always dealing with ourselves – its the thing we cannot get away from, and I’m not referring to self-indulgence. I believe in God so essentially that’s the source-source.
  3. What do you dream about? Thinking about it, I don’t dream anymore. I think I see/dream the most in the act of creating art- that’s where it all presents itself. But seemingly like a strong stream of consciousness from that subconscious place, because somehow I feel most connected to that dream world when painting.
  4. How do you define success? Contentment and seeing. To be able to see, I mean really see yourself and the world around you and feel connected to that knowledge of the what-how and why, to me is – yeah, a kind of contentment. And that’s reaching some kind of circle, completeness, at least that’s success in the bigger sense of the word, cause there can also be moments of success.
  5. Your work reminds me of Basquiat, is he a big infuence for you? Not directly. Although, when I look at Jean-Michel’s work every part of me is awakened by what I’m looking at- and that to me is what I want a painting to do. It’s funny, I’m a self taught artist so when I started painting a close friend of mine asked me if I knew Cy Twombly and Basquiat. I knew the names and famous portraits (mainly of Basquiat holding his cigarette against his face) but not the work, at least not deeply. I searched Google for images and I went insane (in a good way)- because I could see similar ideas, and so after that I studied everything because his work gave me confidence to be me- to be confident. It also got me thinking about how and why I was drawing/ painting the way I was – who determined that? Especially when I saw strong references of West African art and yet being born and raised in London- this heritage of mine was instinctively coming through.
  6. What other types of art interest you? I’m obsessed with everything. Love to study- watch and read as much as I can. To narrow it down, I’m a big film and music fan. I always have both mediums on when I’m painting. I actually think film is possibly the total art form, since it can express all in one form. I’m also kind of the Duchamp school of thought, of something is art because I call it art, and so with the gift of social media, I love seeing what everyone is up to.
  7. How would you like to be seen as an artist years from now? If you can see something and somehow by you seeing ‘it’ make other people see it too… that to me is powerful. I’ll leave it at that.
  8. If you could have dinner with 3 artists living/dead who would be at your table? That’s hard, but because I love conversation and humor it would have to be, Richard Pryor (comedians are artists), Francis Bacon (can listen to him talk about art for ages) and Frida Kahlo ( cause she’ll most likely put the other two men in their place).
  9. Name three things you can’t live without in your studio? Music, punching bag (for when paint is drying) and the internet (all things accessible).
  10. Are you active on social media and if so where can one find you? Instagram: Adebayo Bolaji, however I am on Twitter and Facebook as well.
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