Olu Ajayi (b.1963, Ososo, Nigeria) creates abstract and post-impressionist works reflecting mundane concerns of day-to-day life — joy and grief, gain and loss, and pleasure and pain. Inspired by the radical 1980s art scene and expressionist art movement, Ajayi expresses the inner state of his mind and presents art as a mental exercise of accessing emotions and the subconscious.
Over the past two decades, Olu Ajayi has become known for his vibrant paintings with multiple layers and thick textures, as well as minimalist watercolour paintings which form a significant part of his earlier years. The imagery of his works merges figuration, abstraction and design. He also incorporates the feminine form as an allegorical statement to acknowledge the social and economic impact of women in society, which addresses the shame and disdain often associated with sensual desires.
His works are rooted in developing empathy that not simply aim to understand other human’s experiences, but also connect to the emotions that underpin those experiences. The artist conceptualises humanity and its relevance in today’s world of uncertainty — emphasising a more inclusive way of existing.
Olu Ajayi is one of the early pioneers of watercolour paintings in Nigeria. After becoming a member of the Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA), he rose to become the President of the Lagos Chapter between 2008–2014 and instituted the October Rain and Art Café events that mark
SNA’s yearly programs. He was also the founding member of the Guild of Professional Fine Artists and his works had been commissioned work for several institutions including commercial banks, churches, galleries and blue-chip companies.He has exhibited in Nigeria, Africa and Europe and featured in ArtHouse Contemporary Limited Auction and ART X Lagos.