Jadé Fadojutimi : Heliophobia at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery

Heliophobia is young British artist, Jadé Fadojutimi’s first ever solo show, and the Pippy Houldsworth Gallery provides the perfect space to display her magnificent works.

The paintings beautifully capture the feeling of trepidation that is emitted by the show’s title, Heliophobia, which is the fear of sun, sunlight, or any bright light. Phobias are classified as a type of anxiety disorder, and generally there is no discernible cause for a phobia. Occasionally, they are triggered by a negative experience surrounding the phobic object or situation. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, if it includes an intense fear of being harmed by the sunlight can sometimes lead to heliophobia. One of the symptoms of heliophobia includes panic or anxiety attacks and a sense of this is apparent in Fadojutimi’s paintings, which are covered in harsh brush strokes, and sweeping paint and lines lending the notion of fast frantic movement, almost as if the artist was breathless during their creation.

Heliophobia reflects the emotional landscape of Jadé Fadojutimi’s life. The paintings offer a sense of fractured existence and identity, along with a quest for self-knowledge. Fadojutimi displays this theme through her unique painting style and technique.  She has a cathartic relationship with the paint, which gives her moments of psychological, as well as physical, relief. The paintings clearly exhibit moments where Fadojutimi questions herself and exhibits moments of frustration, fear and self-doubt, but also moments of pleasure.

“Heliophobia” (2017) is filled with pent up exasperation, while “Clumsy” (2017) celebrates awkwardness with it’s recklessness. Fadojutimi appears to envy the malleability of paint and its potential to communicate thoughts and take any form while simultaneously evading articulation.

Fadojutimi explores the notion of people feeling the need to adorn themselves with clothes and accessories in order to establish a sense of self and a personality, with swatches of fabric and bows incorporated throughout her work. Objects that resonate with Fadojutimi are surreptitiously placed within the paintings, unbeknownst to the viewers.

The painting series also explores how environment affects and helps form our identities. The paintings delve into the artist’s, and possibly some viewer’s, trauma from feeling displaced and not belonging anywhere. The paintings themselves are full of bright colours, and display extremely hectic motions and patterns. This erratic nature of the brush strokes stems from Fadojutimi’s manifesting desperation to distance herself from reality, creating scenes where foliage and designs bleed in and out of abstraction.

Jadé Fadojutimi chose Heliophobia as the title for her show referring to her proclivity to work at night. To Fadojutimi, the rejection of sunlight feels like a rejection of positivity or a fear of positivity, but she explains that sometimes negativity can be a positive thing. She also explains that after she chose the title, Heliophobia, it seemed to take a life of it’s own and she recalls memories from childhood of being fearful of the sun in case it tanned her skin, changing her appearance, and making her less beautiful, or a different person altogether.

Heliophobia is all about struggling with one’s identity and emotions, questioning existence, our perceptions and perspectives while our daily struggles manifest. With its painfully beautiful selection of paintings, this exhibition raises more questions for viewers than it answers.

Jadé Fadojutimi explains that, “It was actually liberating, to realise that you don’t know who you are—because there is no ‘who you are’—and to just think: ah, **** it.”

Heliophobia is on at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery until 20th January 2018. More information may be found here.

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