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Kolawole Olalekan

Kolawole Olalekan

Kolawole Olalekan is an expressionist and experimental artist working with painting and drawing. Kolawole received a B.A. in Fine and Applied Art from the University of Benin (2013), with a major in painting. He uses soft medium like acrylic, and water based ink to capture the nuance happening of everyday life. He also uses charcoal pencil and smoke from local lamp to make study drawing. His works can also be viewed as a social commentary with intimate humor. His processes spontaneously bring together a combination of the conceptual, surreal, and the possibilities of a magical realism of his own devising.
Kolawole Olalekan lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria.


“Plant Your Head” is a politically charged work, culminating in a free-flowing series of acrylic paintings I created during a period of collective grief and displacement resulting from socio-economic and political conditions in Nigeria. It serves as an inspiration for a series I titled “Plant Your Head, Ostrich.” The ostrich, known for burying its head to avoid predators, becomes a poignant metaphor for the ironic impact of politically induced fear—the oppressive culture of corruption compelling people to retreat their heads and collective democratic rights into the ground as a coping mechanism to survive in an oppressive culture and environment.

“Being Raphael” is a series of charcoal drawings on smoked cartridge paper that draws inspiration from Picasso’s concept of every child as an artist. In this series, I revisit repressed insecurities, induced fear, and memories through a childlike prism. The inspiration for “Being Raphael” stems from a close experimental experience I had while tutoring and allowing displaced children to draw freely on smoked cartridge paper.



 Kolawole Olalekan expresses himself not merely as an artist, but as a featured character within his pieces. “I delve into the boundless crucible of the mind, reflecting on the occurrences in my immediate environment and translating them onto canvas through visual images.”, says the artist.

Despite employing meticulous planning in my work, I willingly expose myself to ‘spontaneous accidents’ that may arise during the execution process. This openness to unforeseen events has resulted in numerous discoveries regarding the versatile use of various materials. I delve into each accident, transforming it into a detailed focal point for a new piece.

Consequently, I’ve evolved into an active participant in the narration and depiction of my environment. Through exploration with content and materials, I’ve assumed the roles of both a time-recorder and a storyteller.



Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in Visual Arts (Painting), University of Benin, Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria.

Selected Exhibitions:

2023: IN SEARCH by GALARI, Lagos, Nigeria.
2023: THE SHOW WILL GO ON (a virtual art exhibition) by Harmer Contemporary Art Gallery, London.
2022: ART FOR EDUCATION (an art exhibition fundraiser to provide learning materials for 5000 kids in public schools in Nigeria) at HOUR GLASS Lagos, Nigeria.
2022: Miniature art fair Lagos
2021: OBINRIN (an art exhibition advocating for increased women in leadership) in Lagos, Nigeria.
2013: Hueformism V, University of Benin, Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria.
2010: Hueformism IV, University of Benin, Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria.


2019-2022: SOGAL Auctions, Signature Beyond Art Gallery, Lagos, Nigeria.

Publications and Articles:

2020: Ake Review.
2020: BACK2BLACK Magazine.
2020: Fresh Froot Magazine.

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