Modupeola Fadugba: WEST PALM BEACH | SALON

8 - 30 March 2024 West Palm Beach

Private View: Friday, the 8th of March 2024, 6-8pm

West Palm Beach (Florida, USA)


Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery is delighted to present a poetic series of mixed-media paintings by the Nigerian artist Modupeola Fadugba. Drawing on her experiences of living in many different countries and former work in the education sector, Fadugbas multidisciplinary practice investigates and unravels the hierarchical structures that exist on a social, cultural and political level.
In these latest works, she continues her exploration into the setting of the public swimming pool as a site of learning, play and possibility, with a specific focus on groups of young Black women. Rendered in shimmering shades of gold, silver and bronze, the compositions take on a pared-back, almost surreal aesthetic. Take for instance, The Three Graces, which depicts three young women in white bathing suits leaning against one another. Although we intuit the setting from the figuresclothing, the background has been stripped away so that they appear floating in the dark. This cavernous no spacehighlights the intimacy between the girls while also elevating them, as the paintings title suggests, to almost mythological status.
In Four Friends, One Reflection we again encounter a group of young women at rest. Here, they are seated along the top of a wall, their backs bodies draped over one another. In front of them, a pool of golden water captures and transforms their closeness into one fluid, rippling body while the wall beneath them also seems to melt into the liquid. It is at once a study of materiality, of the way in which water can both distort and liberate, as well as a conjuring of a kind of a magical underworld where the boundaries that define reality as we know it are dissolved and the self subsumed by the collective.
Golden Pageant Girls further explores the ways in which water opens up a unique language of abstraction, offering a space of freedom and fluidity. In this work, the swimmers are also dancers, their bodies united by synchronised movement. As in The Three Graces, the conventional swimming pool setting has been replaced by a black background but here, the figures are silhouettes, shaped by burnt areas of canvas, while the materiality of their gold leaf swimsuits evokes an impression of both wetness and warmth. This pairing of the elements water and fire plays on the concept of rebirth, but crucially, in Fadugbas work, transformation comes not so much from a specific environment or action, but through community. It is when we come together, the artist seems to suggest, that we are able to find new ways of seeing and existing in the world.