23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Laolu Senbanjo

Laolu Senbanjo was born in Ilorin, Nigeria, and today lives in Brooklyn, New York. Alongside his work as a human rights lawyer, he has discovered his true vocation in art and music.

In 2007 Senbanjo coined the notion of »afromysterics« to describe his style, which expresses the mysteries of African thought patterns. His roots among the West African Yoruba people have a strong influence on his artistic work, as have his many travels and the happenings he has experienced in the battle for the rights of women and children. His band of musicians from all over the world combines musical traditions of the afrobeat with elements of afro soul and reggae. The band is also called »Afromysterics«. His songs are often based on his art, and his art often refers back to his music. Even as a child, he was interested in drawing, and he steadily worked on his artistic talents by gathering inspiration first from local artists and later from exhibitions and the surrounding culture in places like South Africa, Germany, and in New York. He developed his skills from ballpoint and fountain pen on white and later pastel-colored paper, to pencil, to the charcoal which is his trademark today. In an interview,

Senbanjo said he thinks this way of drawing is beautiful – even if many artists shun it because charcoal is a hard-to-control medium. On the contrary, he says he likes the complexity of black and white, shading and gray tones, which meld with his ideas – even though he sometimes also adds ink, acrylic or oil paints. Charcoal also has a special meaning to him, he says, because it forms a link to our early ancestors who used this material to paint cave walls, demonstrating the almost unique longevity of charcoal.

Apart from his own art, Senbanjo also illustrates book covers; and he is currently also interested in designing textiles in collaboration with fashion designers in Brooklyn. In 2015, for instance, he created a limited series of sports shoes under the title »Step into my Sole«. They were hand-painted in pairs, and unlike other sports shoes, each told their own stories or featured Yoruba sayings. Senbanjo also developed his talents as an actor in the web series »Assorted Meat« by Oluseyi Olatujoye, which describes life in an apartment shared by Nigerians in New York. As a member of the society of Nigerian artists in Lagos, every year he organizes exhibitions to promote local talent and to raise social appreciation for art.