Toronto-based artist Adeyemi Adegbesan creates some of the most gorgeous and intricate portraits I’ve seen. Looking at these I feel like I understand time as a continuum, because it’s like seeing 1,000 years into the past, 1,000 years into the future and into the present all at the same time. Adegbesan, aka Yung Yemi, works in the expansive realm of Afro-futurism, and looking at his work you can feel both the endless space around his subjects, but also the weight of experience, assumption, and history on them. It’s like they’re able to move and take space anywhere they want, but they travel with a suit of armor that both protects them and burdens them. There’s so much detail and meaning to discover in Yung Yemi’s work, and as a whole each portrait is a celebration of the breadth, beauty and majesty of Blackness that’s been hidden and denied by generations of white supremacy.
Reflecting on Blackness through a pre-colonial, colonial, present day and future timelines, across region, religions, varying levels of income and political lines; I interrogate the dichotomy of richness of Black experiences with imposed societal homogeneity of ‘Blackness’.
– Adeyemi Adegbesan
Yung Yemi’s show “Ascension Tech” is live February 1st at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto as a part of their KUUMBA festival for Black History Month. Jealous of anyone who gets to see this stunning work in person! You can pick up prints on his web shop here.