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Black Artist In London: 1 on 1 w/ Sola

Photography provided by Sola Olulode

Interested in learning more about Black Female Painters in London?

Despite her name, Sola Olulode is anything but alone. Stumbling upon her Instagram, dotted and decorated with beautiful, rich paintings of bodies together—sometimes crushed together and other times the air loose around them—was like finding a piece of gold in choppy waters. Her artwork struck me immediately as warm, tender, and gravitating. I spent time zooming in on photos of her work, noticing the detail that she put into every single one.

The flakes and arches, the bleeding greens, and divine yellows. Sola is an artist living at the mouth of the River Thames in South London. Mainly working in figurative painting—an art that draws from real life that can be observed—her paintings focus on the intricate lives of black women and non-binary people. Her art works toward inspiring individuals to evoke feelings of empowerment. She wants to offer the comfort of being represented and most of all, seen. Her paintings are muted, sheltered worlds where people express love unhindered by the outside world that wants otherwise.

Sola’s first memories are most likely filled with yolky sunny days painting and drawing. Gross, oily pastels smeared across the whitest papers. Her mission was already so clear even back then. Her mother says art was the only thing she was interested in as a child so when she got older, forging a career in art only made sense. Her inspirations range from the action of listening to music and watching films. Getting lost in the scenes or beats or lyrics allow the paintings to stretch out and grow from the initial idea she began with.

I Could Just Lay All Day With You, 2019

Seeing the creations sprouting from other artists’ heads also makes Sola want to explore what her art can do. She wants to join the conversation. She finds it therapeutic to create and lose herself in the process of designing. She has been working with yellow recently, in an attempt to convey joy. That is what her paintings want to say at the moment.

Sola also finds it incredibly important to portray black bodies in her art, to insist that they, their thoughts and feelings, are worthy of being documented. In the contemporary art world where black voices are often demeaned or overlooked, telling these stories and presenting these images of black bodies in peace, in love is absolutely a necessity.

The Feels, 2019

Art has the power of highlighting the ones that have always been there but haven’t been able to say anything for themselves in fear of being shunned. Art allows for pride in a person’s identity and most of all, existence. Alongside the power of the art and threading between each stroke of paint, there is love.

For Sola, love is complete comfort and support; it’s understanding and accepting who is receiving the love. It’s often complicated and messy and because it takes continuous work to maintain healthy relationships with yourself and others, it's not linear. It’s checking in on your friends who are struggling, making someone a card, greeting a loved one with a kiss, or cooking a meal for your family. Through her artwork, Sola is offering you a chair, she’s doing your hair, she’s inviting you to experience and witness love as you deserve to.

Eternal Light, 2020


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