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Mannerism painting

by Akanji Bolaji


Akanji Bolaji is a multi-disciplinary artist born and raised in Lagos/Nigeria. His practice involves painting, photography, and mural painting. His artistic piece highlights narratives that surrounds Man and his environment in relation to its cultural experiences and to bring forth the aesthetic quality of his imagination, into visual consciousness. His specialization is mainly on painting using acrylic and oil medium to create narratives around stories and experience he finds intriguing to represent and he hope to explore sculptural installations using his simplified pop-abstract layered patterns to further his practice.

The artists is inspired in the ideal forms and harmonious compositional styles of mannerist, pop-abstraction and surrealism paintings, his exploration of a stylized twist of mannerism which he perceived as a lesser known style is used to further explore the visual narratives around African characteristics and features. His exaggerated approach of his painting is to capture the perfect and imperfection of black beauty; exploring his ideal of beauty in long-neck features as unique philosophy features from Black African Art in its psychology of aesthetics.

Akanji Bolaji has involved himself in many Art competitions, Group Exhibitions and mural projects, notable ones are Spanish Visual Arts Competition and exhibition, Nigeria (2012, 2015, 2022), Creative debuts show and Exhibition, London (2018), Finalist in British Council Art Showcase (2019), World University of Design Art competition and Exhibition, India (2020), BoldBrush Art Contest Top FAV15, U.S.A (2022), Highart competition and group exhibition,California (2022), featured as freelance mural artist in Nigeria Reality Tv Show: Big Brother Naija (2020,2021,2022) to his recent Online group exhibition 2023: “Bitter and Sweet memories” on Artsy. Hence, he looks forward to working with gallerists, art patrons that appreciates and celebrates Black Cultures and Art.


Akanji Bolaji (1991) is a Nigerian figurative painter based in Lagos, Nigeria. His paintings are notable for the use of long necks and with simplified background pattern inspired by cow print (cow skin). His new style which is wrapped around Surrealism and Pop abstraction, is his way of exploring the complexity of an individual and the ideal of the concept of beauty; his subjects are in surrealist form with the use of earth tone to reflect his African background as well as his black history and culture. The pop abstraction of backgrounds which are contours of layered patterns are expressive exploration of cow skin, which is an important trend in the fashion style prints. His styles infuse Black African Art and Pop Abstract to express cheerfulness, optimism, and a sunny vibe.

Akanji is passionate about creating Art through cultural symbolism, proverb, experience and history, he enjoys working with other creatives and getting inspired by other Creative Arts- expressing Arts that represent brand’s identities in the beauties of their stories. He is passionate about exploring different opportunities of Arts to further discover his potentials. His body of work explores its subjects in mannerist style and form, a body of works that capture a compositional narrative of the perfect and imperfection of black beauty. His practice as an artist focuses on telling his story to a group of people unfamiliar with his artistic practice and development; to connect with his viewers through figurative expressions and to show his audience the concepts around black beauty experiences, philosophy and cultures; emphasizing the connectivity of contemporary African mannerist style with European mannerism. He has involved himself in many Art competitions, group exhibitions and mural projects. Hence, he looks forward to working with gallerists, art patrons that appreciates and celebrates Black Cultures and Arts.