Anthony Olubunmi Akinbola’s work is fundamentally built upon the philosophy of the readymade and investigation into his relationships with these same objects. Foregoing conventional approaches to painting and sculpture, he reimagines the construction of identity through startling original treatments of color and texture. He pushes his materials away from their typical cultural and historical evocations, emphasizing plays of color and texture while highlighting unexpected thematic associations. Upon parsing the readymade object, Akinbola examines the intimate narrative of our individual and collective cultural associations to these objects, amplifying their seminal and perpetual role in the fragile construction of who we are. Throughout the artist’s process he has used Du-rag; fiber scarves used in the maintenance of African hair, as a primary material to continue the investigations of the Color Field and Action Painting movements. His series of textile paintings celebrate and reconcile diverse cultural narratives, creating multilayered works of art that engage consumption, respectability, and the commodification of African-American identity, and its vulnerability to structures of capitalism.
Upon emphasizing its transition from mass produced good to art material, Akinbola simultaneously transforms not only the object but the entire environment with his large- scale paintings. The fabrics exist in a spectrum of hues; flayed and draped, stretched and strung tight, intuitively weaved across a wooden panel. Their bold compositions permeate the space, immersing the viewer in their multi-layered fabrication, an allusion to the complex fashioning of identity. The Camouflage series taps into a ready-made tradition and delves into themes of hybridity, consumerism and race, Akinbola sees each new exhibition as an opportunity to reexamine and contextualize the work through a new lens.
Anthony Olubunmi Akinbola was born in 1991 in Columbia, Missouri. He lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He received a BA in communications and media from SUNY Purchase College. His work is included in the Pizzuti Collection, Columbus, OH, the Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection, and The Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, NY amongst others. Akinbola’s work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions at venues including Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, MI; The Queens Museum, NY; the Bronx River Art Center, NY; The Zuckerman Museum of Art, GA; The Verbeke Foundation, Belgium and the Museum of Arts and Design, NY amongst others. He created a monumental wall collage for The Queens Museum in 2018 and was selected for the Anderson Ranch Art Center Residency in 2017. In 2019, he was awarded the Van Lier Fellowship and named the eighth Museum of Arts and Design Artist Fellow, which resulted in a solo exhibition at the museum. In September 2022, Akinbola was awarded the Silver Arts Project residency in New York. He mounted a significant solo exhibition in early 2021 at the Kohler Arts Center, WI. He was recently selected for The Artsy Vanguard 2022, an annual feature spotlighting the most promising artists working today. Anthony Olubunmi Akinbola’s work will be included in a group exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art in March 2023.