Friend of My Heart by Fadekemi Ogunsanya.

Next Big Thing: Fadekemi Ogunsanya

The London-based painter has achieved a striking visual language right out of the gate

Fadekemi Ogunsanya

Fadekemi Ogunsanya. Photo: FARIDAH FOLAWIYO

Few artists achieve a striking visual language right out of the gate. But Fadekemi Ogunsanya’s paintings evince a master in the making, as she uses aesthetic motifs and strict parameters to explore her creative process.

“Once I gave myself a color palette, a whole world opened up,” says the Nigerian artist from her London studio. “You know where the boundaries are.”

Character study: “I’m always trying to have things that are recognizable to help you identify with the characters I paint over and over again,” she explains.

Ogunsanya sees her work as objects, rather than paintings, a facet of her educational background, having received a master’s from the Architectural Association in London in 2020. “I started making paintings out of creative frustration,” she confesses. “I started sharing my paintings on Instagram in 2016, and I would get a lot of feedback about the emotional themes I was trying to express. I think it was a way to connect with other people about being alive and existing.” 

Fadekemi Ogunsanya’s 2023 work Beauty Queen. Photo: ROB HARRIS

Fadekemi Ogunsanya’s 2023 work Sense of Self. Photo: ROB HARRIS

“Fadekemi’s work is a poetic blend of African culture with spirituality, mythology, and folk art, painting Black bodies and figures in indigo as a means to enhance their power”

Tokini Peterside-Schwebig
Fadekemi Ogunsanya

Breathing Out I Smile by Fadekemi Ogunsanya. Photo: ROB HARRIS

A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2023 Winter Issue under the headline “Next Big Things.” Subscribe to the magazine.

Click here to see the full list of “Next Big Things.”

Cover: Friend of My Heart by Fadekemi Ogunsanya.


Sign up to receive the best in art, design, and culture from Galerie

Thank You
Your first newsletter will arrive shortly.