Oluwatobi Adewumi is a contemporary artist who focuses on the socio-cultural aspects of his subjects through his multimedia drawings and paintings. His work explores his personal journey of being born to the Yoruba tribe in Ibadan, Nigeria, then moving and assimilating into the American culture in conservative Arkansas. He began making art on a wager—one that resulted in his winning a national arts competition in high school, setting him on a steep path of artistic self-actualization. He is self-taught, and his influences are diverse: the croquis he grew up around in his mother’s fashion design studio, the frank self-portraiture of Rembrandt, the stark light of Caravaggio’s paintings. Among contemporary artists, Adewumi’s sources of inspiration include the Nigerian multimedia artist Toyin Ojih Odutola, the epic-scale pluralist painter Kehinde Wiley, and the Ivorian photographer Joana Choumali.
Adewumi’s works move between the realism and abstract portraits/figures layered out to make it simple for his audience by telling a story within a story. Some of his best tools are charcoal and graphite, which he can manipulate and use freely to bring out the depth of the subject as he tackles the story behind each of his pieces.
With every piece of art I create comes a story; an opportunity to provide history, a new voice, narrative, and perspective for my audience. I believe in using my artistic gift as a conduit to share the stories of people living in different societies and cultures with a new context. My creative process and work always lead to providing platforms and information for movement to discuss values and cultural shifts in the new world. Every soul has a story to tell, along with history, questions, and beauty.