Of Life and Animosities: Paul Oyetunde Ogunlesi

Words and images by Paul Oyetunde Ogunlesi

As we peel back the layers of these beautifully-rendered paintings, each answer we discover seems to ask another question. We arrive in the middle of the narrative, and we see the story from a discombobulating angle, which forces us to reconsider our assumptions about art and about life. Through the small details–bugs & insects, letters, balloons and keys and cards–the images function on a level of myth and metaphor. But in the gestures of the subjects themselves we read shifting and conflicting emotions we recognize. The paintings are so mysteriously personal that they become universal, and they are completely, endearingly human.

My works are description of known souls that’s locked inside everyone of us. They are layout of some obvious or hidden realities of human existence, as it pertains to daily living.

My Narratives are inspired by Yoruba Adages, and revolve around love, hope, faith, romance, fashion, and encouragement of more kindness in the world. Things I believe can be experienced by everyone in the world, no matter their positions, status or location.

The tempera and wash painting techniques are what I use in creating my pieces and collaging of newspaper prints are Paramount in my painting, to convey hidden narrations behind the experiences of each subject I am treating at every point in time.

With my works, I tend to focus on the feet upward, Providing a multiplicity of narratives for my audience to explore my metaphorical, ambiguous canvases oscillate between a sense of peace and abandonment, faith, tenuous hope. Forced into becoming voyeur, the viewer soon becomes the off-screen protagonist of a scene that is left for him or her to interpret.

With my works, I deploy an invasive process to engage my audience: carefully framing my compositions to avoid representing faces, I focus instead on my characters’ feet and legs, as a metaphor in creating rich evocative narrations as a “mediums of shared identities.”

My ongoing series is “of life and animosities.”

Paul Oyetunde Ogunlesi (b. 1994, Lagos State) is a Lagos-based painter that hails from Ogun state, and a graduate of Yaba College of Technology in Fine Art. In creating his works, he blends newspaper collages, which he uses as metaphor to outlay hidden narratives behind the situation of his subject per time, with acrylics, using the wash and temperal finish technique to arrive at his subtledly expressive, textured canvases. Ogunlesi takes a different approach to portraiture in engaging his audience, with the use of truncated, disconcerting compositions. Inspired by life, Yoruba adages, faith, the mundane, the trivial and past experiences, exploring themes such as humanity, romance, kindness and hope with tender tones and natural poses, his works echo the singularities of our individual experiences by offering the viewer multi-layered frames to dive into.

Ogunlesi’s works have been exhibited with Cultivate Gallery (London, 2023), Rele Gallery (2022), Art Pantheon Gallery (2022), TaagGallery (Parkville, USA, 2022), Alfaartgallery (NJ, USA, 2021), Artaboutafrica (Johannesburg, South Africa, 2020), @omenkagallery (Lagos, 2019), & Arkane Africa (Casablanca, Morocco, 2019). You can see more of his work on Instagram at ogunlesipaul and on Facebook at Paul Ogunlesi.

Categories: art, featured, featured artist

Tagged as: ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s