Deep Dive is a solo exhibition by the Brooklyn-based British artist Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, which created a new set of paintings and refined lithographs that tackle historical themes – such as mythology, religion and ritual spectacle – through the lens of the contemporary diaspora.
These works are grounded in the mythology and culture of his own Yoruba heritage, but he also looks at the African-American culture around him, embracing the similarities and differences between that lineage and his own. Created in oil on canvas or acrylic on board, the paintings feature near-life-size figures in vibrant colors against a background of foliage, referencing the intricate patterns of the 19th-century Arts and Crafts Movement, particularly the tile design of William de Morgan. Rooted in modernism, the movement sought to combine human creativity with natural forms to advance utopian visions. At the same time, the artist's foliage-themed approach alludes to West African literature, in which the jungle often appears as a symbol of exploration, transition, and potential.
Confined to a shallow frame, the genderfluid body is muscular to the point of looking stylized, with every toned limb, torso and head outlined with emphasis. In stark contrast to the flat pictorial space advocated by abstractionism, figures swoop and swoop, emerge and recede from the background, and the sinuous silhouettes of leaves subtly echo the curves of the body repeatedly in an endless rhythm. These paintings emerge from a drawing-centric process in which lines are overdrawn up to five times in a single work, whereby the silhouettes of figures are outlined in thin slicks of black paint. The eyes, the last element to be added, dot each composition, their directional gaze lending agency and autonomy to each figure and helping to draw the viewer's gaze into and around the complex pictorial space.
Tunji Adeniyi-Jones - <<Deep Drive>>
Date: 22 Mar – 20 May 2023
Gallery: White Cube, Hong Kong
Address: 50 Connaught Road Central, Hong Kong