Jadé Fadojutimi is London's rising art prodigy
As her new solo show opens, the south London-based artist gives us a tour of her eclectic studio.
Jadé Fadojutimi’s studio in South Bermondsey feels incredibly well lived in. “It's like a bedroom to me,” she says, sitting on a sofa in one corner eating sushi and drinking bubble tea late in the afternoon. “Usually after 11pm is the moment things really start to happen, so I'm here a lot of the evenings.”
The room is full of her large canvases, propped against the walls, some on top of each other (and many others stacked high on shelves in a second studio down the hall). Stuffed animals, handwritten notes, dresses on hangers and flowers are also scattered about. Entering the studio feels a little like being granted permission inside Jadé’s mind for a moment and, looking closer at the different annotations stuck on the wall, there seem to be some quite big, existential questions that she’s considering. “Constantly,” she agrees. “I've always been like that.”
Jadé’s paintings are wrought with such emotion it seems a feat each can be contained within the confines of a canvas. Frenzied brushstrokes and clashing colours could convey malaise and madness, or euphoria and ecstasy, depending on what mood you’re in. “I have one-hit paintings which I define as paintings I do in one session and then I have two-hit paintings. I like to work quickly,” she says, something she learnt to embrace after a stint studying in Japan. “Something which really opened up my sense of working was to not go against who I am. I'm quite impatient, and I took that lesson — understanding the things that I saw as flaws in myself should be embraced in my paintings — and now I have paintings that I've done in one hour, just as a challenge.”
Growing up in Ilford, an East London suburb, before moving further east to Seven Kings when she was seven, Jadé describes her adolescence as somewhat insular — a teenager obsessed with anime and movie soundtracks, who was (and still can be) quite sensitive and emotional. At 18 she enrolled at Slade School of Art to study her BA in Fine Art, before joining the Royal College of Art for an MA.
“[Slade and the RCA] were both very different experiences,” she says. “I think partially because of the difference in going to Slade when I was 18 and straight out of school and going to RCA when I was 25 — I was in a very different mind-set. But Slade, retrospectively, I really appreciate. I struggled there a lot. It was my first real introduction into what it meant to make it as an artist. I felt a lot of pressure and a lot of insecurity about how much I felt I didn't know. I loved RCA. I think it is what you make it. I think I was there in one of the last years where they stopped accepting so many students. We weren't a massive year, compared to what it is now. But I'm also biased. I think if any course gives you a trip to Japan you're gonna like it.”
Now 27, in the two or so years since graduating Jadé’s found representation by three galleries, had her work acquired by the Tate and exhibited in a number of shows. Her latest, Jesture, at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, is just one of a few big projects she has in the pipeline — including a solo show at ICA Miami next year. Gallery representation is something she only has positive things to speak on. “I feel very lucky,” she says, though concedes her experience might be quite unusual. “I was very fortunate that Pippy was the one that saw my show at the RCA. She nurtures me and is so supportive and took a chance on me. I graduated in July 2017 and she said, 'Do you want to do a show in December 2017?' and gave me representation at the same time. I think it differs from gallery to gallery. I think a good gallery will let you do what you want and it will be a professional friendship. My galleries have never once told me what to do. They could try and it wouldn't work!”
Jesture — with a J — captures “the absurdity of this time but also captures the physicality of the making of the paintings, and the involvement of the pastels,” she says, describing the collective work as “a really extensive, anxious noodle”, with all drawings started in lockdown, nothing outdating March. Though it’s had its challenging moments, lockdown hasn’t been too disruptive to Jadé’s practice. “I always hesitate to talk overly positive about lockdown because people are going through it in their own ways but for me, at least, it really expanded my mind and my imagination. That's something that's really nice about making work, at least for me, it doesn't necessarily have to... it doesn't rely on the everyday routines of life. It's quite individual to it and it can exist separate from it and can question it as a result.”
In a few days, Jadé’s leaving this studio for one five times the size of her current one. With so many projects — at Pippy Houldsworth and ICA, plus a separate show at Taka Ishii Gallery and a sound project in the works that seeks to distill her feelings towards the global Black Lives Matter protests of this year — it’s not hard to see how she’s outgrown the space. As for taking a break? “I'm going to take some time off but… that's not a thing that exists.”
‘Jesture’ is on show at London’s Pippy Houldsworth Gallery until 31 October 2020.
Images courtesy the artist and Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London