Nigerian artist Akindele John harbors a profound respect for people of the African Diaspora, which he exemplifies in his vivid, celebratory portraiture. Working in oil on canvas, the artist centers on figures who offer insight into diasporic lineages, as he intertwines historic elements with that of the present day. “My subjects are based on African old ways,” he tells Colossal. “They are real people that tell a story about the African diaspora.”
Often overlaid with ornate botanical motifs or embedded with patterns, the portraits are vibrant and regal and tend to portray figures in moments of contemplation. Yellow halos encircle their faces, elevating each to a position of spiritual wisdom and regard. John shares that he’s drawn to the contrasts within compositions and contemporary interpretations of chiaroscuro, particularly the work of photographer Maria Presser.