I live really close to China Town, one of my favorite places to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables. It reminds me of the markets in Nigeria. How they lay their wares on the streets and the high number of people who flock in and out of the shops and stalls. I also love the diversity of people in it, though the Chinese dominate this area, you find traces of people from all races and places. It attracts tourists, shoppers and people with other interests.
There I was on this beautiful mid day, just passing through. The sun was at its peak and the weather really nice. I spotted this man, he sparked my interest because for many reasons, he clearly stood out. He had a long reddish beard and hair that covered his face. He looked Irish. He was further hidden by his hood like he was hiding from himself. But he had a very calm disposition as he chilled and dragged the smoke from his cigarette in and out of his lungs while sipping on a can of soda. He sat by a wall decorated in Chinese inscriptions which I could not interpret.
Days later , I saw him on another street close by picking the garbage. I watched him from the side of my eye and wondered, if only he knew he had now become the subject of my painting. I thought about him about , I still wonder what his story is. I guess this will always be a mystery to me. There are many like him who have a story to tell. I feel like it is my artistic responsibility to capture people like him, in understanding the diversity of the land I now call home.
“A Drink and a Smoke in China Town” 30 x 24 inches, will be featured in my solo show titled ,”Rebirth” taking place at the Joyce Gordon Gallery , 406 14th street, downtown Oakland between Broadway and Telegraph, from March 6 – April 25th. Opening reception is on March 6, 6-9pm.
For more information please visit http://ninafabunmi.com and http://www.joycegordongallery.com
“Orekelewa” the Yoruba addage which means ‘paragon of beauty’. This painting takes me back to my origins. A beautiful woman, flashy with her “gele” which is a special head wrap also originally from the Yoruba tribe but popularly worn in other parts of Nigeria and West Africa. Her make-up is bold, her gesture is one of confidence and class. She knows she looks good and she flaunts it. Embellished with tribal marks , my painting is very expressive.
I remember the day I walked down the streets of San Francisco, all dressed up in my Ankara tube top and fish styled skirt, my head adorned with my golden ‘gele’. I stepped slowly , up and down those hills in my high heeled shoes. I was on my way to the Palace Holel where the Museum of the African Diaspora was having their Gala and I just happened to be a VIP guest. A random man on the street began to sing to me, “she’s your queen to be…..” , popular soundtrack from Eddie Murphy’s movie “Coming to America”. I guess in many ways, I felt like a queen that night. I gave San Francisco a very rare spectacle, I mean , how often do you see a woman in a ‘gele’ walking down the street here? When I walked in , wow, I was blinded by the camera’s on the red carpet, microphones and paparazzi asking for my name. It felt really good. I got to hang out with Danny Glover , Deborah Santana and Alfre Woodard. My night of stardom. Imagine how popular the ‘gele’ is back in Naija and here, it got me a lot of attention.
I always say that we’ve got a lot of issues back home , but one of the things that makes me proudly Naija is our culture and I flaunt it at any given opportunity. We are beautiful and we are blessed. We have a lot to share with the world.
“Orekelewa 2” 18×12 will be featured in my solo show titled “Rebirth” taking place at the Joyce Gordon Gallery, 406 14th Street, downtown Oakland between Broadway and telegraph, from March 6 – April 25th . Opening reception is on March 6, 6-9pm . For more information, please visit
I ponder about love, out in the cold, shaking in my boots , waiting for you to hold me tight, keep me warm and never let go.
I wonder about love. An emotion that has made me foolish. I move in obedience to its wind. I think without thought. Shut my mind out and following the dictates of my heart . Knowing not what I am doing but only knowing that I am deep in love.
That this love may not put me asunder . It weighs on me, the vulnerability I reside in, the fragility of my heart. Love controls me , O! Such stupidity. I am at its feet hoping that it may not step on me but only lift me to higher places.
…..and still I wonder, how I ponder about love. Love is a battle field, a place where a heart must fight for its height . To tear down barriers and make way for love to thrive.
A place where dreams have wings and birds sing and twirl in the wind. Where the sun kisses the sea and the moon dances with the ocean at night.
Love makes me ponder……
“Ponder, 24×18, oil on canvas” will be exhibited in my solo show at Joyce Gordon Gallery, 406 14th street between Broadway and telegraph, downtown Oakland, from March 6 – April 25th.
One of the things I loved most about studying art history was the symbolism used in paintings made by our renaissance masters. Nudity was seen as the lack of desire for mundane things. Thus a nude woman would be seen as humble and meek while one who was adorned in clothing was perceived as vain. Naked we came into this world and thanks to our ancestors, Adam and Eve, we realized that we were nude and felt the desire to cover up. But nudity is ones true state, bare and away from the garments that hide us.
Naked, she sits in a child pose and in her innocence, she hugs herself, she loves herself and finds comfort in who she is.
That we may accept ourselves as who we are and what we are, and embrace it. That’s what this painting symbolizes.
‘Acceptance’, oil on canvas, 40 x 30 Inches will be included in my solo show titled ‘Rebirth’ taking place from March 6th -April 25th at Joyce Gordon Gallery.406 14th Street, Oakland, CA 94612,Phone:(510) 465-8928.
As I close my eyes in sleep and drift away into uncharted territories. In places where all is possible, I meet people I only imagined. Hallucinations, a peek into my consciousness. I see , I hear , I touch , I feel. I have developed super human powers. I call out to the mountains that stand before me, I tear them down with a wave of my finger and laugh at the sweet feel of my victory. I have travelled beyond the bounds of this earth, built floating castles in the sky and sat on my throne like the Queen of all. I have a love that will never die. For all is possible in a dream so deep.
‘A dream so deep’, oil on canvas, 40 x 30 Inches will be included in my solo show titled ‘Rebirth’ taking place from March 6th -April 25th at Joyce Gordon Gallery.406 14th Street, Oakland, CA 94612,Phone:(510) 465-8928.
For more information, please visit http://ninafabunmi.com and http://www.joycegordongallery.com
I painted this portrait because she had adorned her head with a head wrap made of a traditional Nigerian fabric called ‘Ankara’. This fabric is also worn in other West African nations like Togo and Ghana. It reminded me of home.
I met her at the Museum of the African Diaspora. She is a gorgeous African American who has never visited Africa but still acknowledges her roots by the way she dresses. She is wearing a denim shirt which makes her appearance very contemporary.
I really enjoyed making this piece. Several collectors tried to buy this piece but art finally finds its way to the right home. She was steadfast in her quest to own it and it finally went home to her on Saturday. Only then did I finally see the locs she nurtured under that lovely head wrap.