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OLUWATOPE ISAAC – Short Listed 2023 – The Kuenyehia Prize for Contemporary Art

Isaac Oluwatope is a talented artist whose creative expression is profoundly influenced by Araism. Through his work, he explores the intricate facets of the human experience and interaction with the mundane, capturing their essence through figurative depictions and employing subtle yet vibrant colours to convey emotion and depth.

As a proponent of Araism, a school of artistic thought, emphasizes the exploration of colour breaking into shapes, forms and motifs as a means to communicate the multifaceted nature of our existence. Isaac draws inspiration from this philosophy, employing a delicate balance of hues, and creating harmonious compositions that evoke a sense of contemplation and introspection in his work.

His works are primarily with Acrylic on canvas, using a combination of white glue and acrylic to create texture and feelings in his works. The style he explores is bred from “Araism” a unique African art movement conceived by artist Mufu Onifade in 2006. The technique is derived from a Yoruba concept of beauty. In it, it explores the idea that the Yoruba in their diverse art usage have applied over the years to project their art. The technique involves a complex combination of pointillism where colours are broken into entities, forms, shapes, African motifs and symbols.

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By utilizing carefully chosen colours, he aims to ignite a visceral response in viewers, allowing them to delve deeper into the narrative and connect with the subject matter on a profound level. Through the subtle nuances in posture, expression, and gesture, he strives to convey a range of emotions and experiences – from joy and sorrow to resilience and vulnerability. Each stroke of colour adds another layer of complexity to the narrative, encouraging viewers to engage with the artwork and unravel its hidden depths.

The figurative elements of his work not only invite viewers to witness the human experience but also serve as a reflection of our collective journey. By portraying a diverse range of subjects, he captures the rich tapestry of life, celebrating the uniqueness and interconnectedness of individuals irrespective of cultural or social backgrounds. Isaac seeks to transcend language barriers and communicate the shared threads that unite us all, through his work. He believes that art has the power to transcend boundaries, allowing us to find common ground and foster empathy and understanding.

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