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Outer Space by TJ Agbo

Inspired by a life-long interest of portraiture and the geometric, Peckham-born artist TJ Agbo combines these juxtaposed affinities into an extensive collection of work that feels deeply pursued by personal interests and figurations.

Agbo’s mixed-media and abstract approach to portraiture, as seen in ‘Outer Space’, is a unique artistic style that is fresh, bright and exciting visually.

This piece, like many others, toys with colour, texture and abstract shape, using the feminine face as an iconic figure that stands as the centre of the universe. Agbo’s aesthetic has an intrinsically positive energy, presenting female figures of an African heritage in a light of admiration that every viewer can very easily appreciate and enjoy. Such choices in subject can be subject to being over-sexualised and stereotyped in contemporary practices, however, ‘Outer Space’ presents the red-lipped beauty as an iconographic symbol – women are the creators and nurturers of life’s existence. It is possible that the use of such figures are inspired by a number of strong and powerful women that Agbo finds himself surrounded by; it has certainly driven a positive response from his followers.

The viewers eye cannot help but bounce back and forth across the paper between the red circle, round plump lips and glistening eyes. Despite the flatness of the majority of the piece, it is quickly contrasted with the three-dimensional effect cleverly put together with black and white inks on the character’s façade. This relationship between the black and white of TJ Agbo’s portraits has become a staple of this artist’s work, creating a wonderful blend between classical portraiture and abstraction.

Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, TJ Agbo’s influence has grown across a number of online platforms and has not hindered his ability to create work on a daily basis. With the number of human-rights movements that have occurred over this pandemic, it is only right that an artist who celebrates black culture in their work is brought further into the limelight to bring about conversations amongst society. However, it must be noted that this is not the sole purpose for Agbo’s work, for he is an artist that chooses to create without limitations.

Words by Chloe Copley

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