Slide Jeremiah Onifadé’s Orbs and Cods SITE131 welcomes Jeremiah Onifadé for his solo exhibition, surreal figures. Inspired by literary figures and narratives from his childhood, Onifadé’s works tell the story of human energies, drawing attention especially to identity, mind, and belief. Homer’s Odyssey captured the attention and imagination of Onifadé, interweaving similar themes of humanity and storytelling from this classic work of fiction into his own surrealist paintings. Rather than drawing attention to the human body, Onifadé works to paint partial figurations, blurring the small details of his figures’ faces, drawing the focus away from the physical anatomy of an individual, exposing instead raw human emotion.

The paintings reveal past times in Nigeria, such as sheltering during a riot, protecting a neighbor in a burning building, imagining life away, adults playing checkers, celebrating going to SCAD, grandmas rocking their grandchildren, and a black artist’s emotional storms of self-discovery. The narratives, full and rich, preserve both happy and sad experiences from a life far away and still held in esteem.

Onifadé dreams in color. These dreams are translated from imaginative ideas into his animated artworks. At the core, his artistic practice begins with a story surrounding a central figure or two. Although figures and central elements remain distinguished within each work, Onifadé allows for a degree of ambiguity to persist, in order for the viewer to undergo a unique experience of self-reflection. The result of these colors and figures are childlike narratives found within each artwork. Onifadé remains shaped by individuals and events which once formed the fabric of his childhood. His works seek to represent these memories, while also reflecting on the present and the future.
Two of the figures central to Onifadé’s artworks are Orbs and Cods. By creating Orbs and Cods, Onifadé brings his own representations and ideas to the image, narrating a story from his own perspective, while still allowing the viewers to digest the story how they best see fit. The title of each work closely connects to the story itself, illustrating the intentional nature behind each and every artwork. Spending hours, he mixes the right colors to achieve the hues and saturation he desires; both the Orbs and Cods reflect a lifelike presence in his paintings. While Orbs represent lessons and narrations; the Cods, on the other hand, reflect human emotion.

Onifadé astutely represents the way in which one’s environment impacts emotions and decision making through the unique nature of the Cods. His works ultimately seek to focus on the emotional structures of human beings, rather than those of the physical nature.

Artist Jeremiah Onifadé is a storyteller. He’s inventing characters that are totally original to him, carrying on narratives that play out his memories. His charming figures seem to wink at the viewer while hiding little details about his personal histories. These delightful, outer space mutations take us to another world, a perfect experience for entering the New Year.
Elise Huff
BA, Southern Methodist University, 2020
Postcard Slide Slide Slide Slide Slide Slide Slide Slide Slide Slide
Scroll down for complete gallery.