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One to watch: meet emerging artist Robert Badu

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Up-and-coming artist Robert Badu’s drawings and paintings are visually complex and strikingly unique. His distinctive artistic style encourages a focused analysis, drawing you in to unpick the interweaving lines and shapes that run throughout his collection of works.

Robert Badu, Selfie Portrait

'Selfie Portrait', Robert Badu, pen on paper, courtesy: the artist
Currently represented by artist agent and curator India Dickinson in London, Badu is pursuing his childhood dream of becoming an artist. Having loved art from a young age, he recalls that “drawing was the only subject I had an interest in at school.”

In his art, Badu mostly uses acrylic, pen and ink on paper or canvas to create his individual style. As such, his works involve a lot of intricate and fine detailing to emphasise the bold outlines and patterns.

“I love the freedom of expression and creativity [of art],” he tells me. “Art allows me to express myself and exhibit the thoughts, patterns and ideas that are in my imagination.”

Badu is self-taught, and his natural artistic talent is clear from the consistently high quality of his work. His art is inventive and largely abstracted, yet nonetheless relatable and widely accessible. With semi-abstracted human figures overlapping and recurring throughout his works, Badu’s art visually considers the nature of social interactions and relationships.

Robert Badu, Parliament Dark Or Light Mind

'Parliament - Dark Or Light Mind', Robert Badu, pen on paper, courtesy: the artist
Describing his role as an artist as “a silent bystander”, Badu reflects on the world around him for inspiration. He says that he likes “to translate everyday social life into a distinct narrative.”

As he observes his surroundings with a deliberately detached viewpoint, Badu reinvents the world in more vibrant and visually striking colours. Creating a “dream world of characters and bright colours”, Badu says that “art acts as a release from the mundane everyday of life”.

Badu’s work references his Ghanaian background, particularly considering textiles, fertility dolls and gold weights from Ghana to inspire “the bright colours and textured patterns” in his art.

The figures in Badu’s art interlink to describe the metaphorical connections between people. As such, it can be challenging at first to differentiate one body from the next in the images.

He compares the grouping of people in his art to a forest of trees: “my paintings appear like a forest. When seen from [a distance] it looks like a disjointed chaos but as you get close you realise that each tree is isolated from the other, and each has its own story to tell.”

Robert Badu, Staunch

'Staunch', Robert Badu, ink on paper, courtesy: the artist
Badu’s work has been shown at numerous art exhibitions, fairs and festivals across Denmark and in London. He hopes to work towards a solo art show in London in the next few years as he builds his portfolio and moves towards creating more large-scale works on canvas.

To others hoping to pursue a career as an artist, Badu advises: “Continue to develop your work, show it to as many people as possible and get yourself a great agent who helps and supports you!”

What, in particular, has Robert Badu learnt since becoming an artist? Simply, but significantly, “to never give up on it.”

To find put more about Robert Badu and to see more examples of his artworks, you can visit his Instagram here, and India Dickinson's website here

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