Celebrating Olatunji Sanusi
Olatunji Sanusi is creative, he always has been. From his days spent crafting superhero belts and small boats out of paper as a boy in Nigeria, to afternoons spent outdoors captivating tourists. Creativity has always occupied a place in his life.
Olatunji Sanusi’s studio is situated on the third floor of the August House building in Johannesburg. It’s filled with pieces of paper and stacks of magazines rest against the skirting boards while the floor has long disappeared beneath a carpet of multi-coloured pieces of paper. Its beautiful, chaotic. Lining the walls of the studio are his works, part paint, part collage, and all in full of glorious colour.
‘I don’t think I go a day without pasting paper onto canvas,’ he says as he works on a large-scale canvas. ‘Even on the weekends, if it’s just for 5 or 10 minutes, I’ll be working with paper.’
With a new solo exhibition opening at the V&A Waterfront’s Art @ Africa Clocktower gallery, Sanusi is busy adding the finishing touches to a new body of work. Comprising a series of collage portraits on large-scale canvases, African Allures will look at combined African heritages using prominent musicians, artists and cultural icons from the continent.
African Allures will feature three portraits of Mahlangu, all portraying her wearing a doek, something Sanusi is borrowing from Yoruba culture and working into all the pieces. You can view his work at the Julie Miller Investment Art Institute at Mall of Africa.
Things are looking good for the artist. Working at August House sees him doing what he loves every day for a living, and the galleries are beginning to take note of his talent. Getting to this point has been a long journey for the artist. After finishing his studies, Sanusi began work at a small studio of his own in Nigeria and producing what he calls ‘functional art’ – basic painted works and fabrics produced to be sold off quickly.
We take our hats off to this talented African artist and give him many thanks for letting his light shine bright so that we too can realize how bright our colours shine.