Babajide Olatunji, Tribal Marks Series III #21, 2017, Charcoal and pastel on paper, 149 × 210 cm. Courtesy TAFETA
Babajide Olatunji, Tribal Marks Series III #21, 2017, Charcoal and pastel on paper, 149 × 210 cm. Courtesy TAFETA  

Originally trained as a botanist, Babajide Olatunji is a visual artist and autodidact, having spent many years of self-directed study researching art historical movements and production techniques. Olatunji’s series Tribal Marks, now in its third iteration, is a collection of hyperrealist portraits informed by his extensive research into the age-old practice of facial scarification and through discussions with carriers of these marks.

Marrying his technical proficiency and the extensive research supporting each work, the resulting portraits are highly photorealistic. In Olatunji’s words, ‘The rendering process starts with the creative imaginings of the subject, considering personality, character, skin-type and even factoring in medical history in some cases. It involves fashioning a story around them and then drawing desired morphological characteristics from an exhaustive study of faces to produce unique portraits.’ His works have been selected for recent exhibitions in Nigeria, the UK and the US, and acquired by the Mott-Warsh Collection, Michigan.