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Samuel Olayombo: <i>Lotus Bloom Ranchers</i>

Zidoun-Bossuyt Gallery is pleased to present the first solo exhibition of artist Samuel Olayombo in Dubai.



Samuel Olayombo’s artistic journey is an exploration of the intricate interplay between identity, culture, and masculinity. His portraits, bathed in the defiant hue of pink, challenge the conventional constructs of gender and masculinity. In doing so, he invites us to scrutinize and question the deeply ingrained notions of Fatherhood and its effect on children. What it means to be a parent and the crucial role Fathers play in teaching, imparting, and nurturing the next generation.

The juxtaposition of Western Cowboy archetypes with the embrace of their feminine side in Olayombo’s work serves as a striking commentary on the fluidity of representation. The role of Black cowboys in the American West is often overlooked in popular films and literature that depict the Wild West. However, historians and scholars have inquired more about the integral role African Americans played in the settlement and development of the West. Oaloyombo’s paintings pay homage to the rich legacy of Black cowboys.

The vibrant use of pink, often associated with femininity in many cultures, becomes a symbol of the rejection of gender-specific colors, encouraging a more nuanced and inclusive understanding of the male figure; and alluding to the fact that color should be gender neutral. Beyond the probe of gender, Olayombo’s work delves into the cultural tapestry of the Ife, a Yoruba tribe of Nigeria. Here, he honors the intricate practice of body scarification—a cultural ritual laden with diverse root explanations and spiritual significance. In an attempt to replicate and reaffirm this controversial practice, Olayombo employs thick acrylic pigment, applying it to the skins of his figures. The scarification ritual, both in its traditional form and Olayombo’s reinterpretation, carries a profound message. It signifies the marks we bear, both seen and unseen, and the stories they tell about our cultural and individual identities.

Amidst the exploration of gender and cultural heritage, Olayombo’s portraits emerge as symbols of rugged confidence, plainspoken wisdom, casual strength, and paternalistic love. In this exhibition, he underscores the significance of a healthy Father-son relationship, an oft-neglected dimension of masculinity. By depicting black cowboys bonding with their children while riding on horses against vibrant pink backgrounds, Olayombo unveils a profound narrative. Beyond being providers, the Father figures in his paintings, cling to their children, signifying emotional availability. The black cowboys are not afraid to show their nurturing habits, giving affection, affirmation, and attention to their children. These portraits capture the essence of breaking the cycle of generational trauma and toxic patterns. They serve as a powerful reminder of the transformative potential of positive role models, particularly fathers, in the lives of their children.

In his solo exhibition Lotus Bloom Ranchers, Samuel Olayombo’s portraits transcend the canvas and become windows into an exploration of family bonding, fostering new possibilities for the next generation. Through the interplay of colors, symbols, and narratives, he challenges us to rethink our preconceived notions, revel in fatherhood, and give credibility to positive role models. In a world where societal expectations often limit the expression of virility, Olayombo’s work celebrates a multifaceted masculinity that embraces both vulnerability and strength. His art becomes a bridge between worlds, a conversation starter, and a testament to his practice.

A commentary by Kezia Ouomoye Owusu-Ankomah |Art Practitioner|Mentor


Samuel Olayombo (born in 1991) is a Nigerian artist who studied fine and applied arts at the University of Benin. His work is part of collections including The Dean Collection, Los Angeles; Olym Collection, Brussels; Sir David Adjaye Collection, New York; Se Tinat Collection, Madrid; The Bentata Collection, Miami among others. He was a 2021 Visiting Fellow at the Noldor Artist Residency. He presented his first institutional solo exhibition curated by Fabiola Ondzounga at the Institute Museum of Ghana in March 2023.

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