Sola Olulode creates dreamy queer visions in her vibrant and joyous paintings

The London-based artist tells us about her proclivity for colour, being drawn to stories of love, and painting what she wants to see in the world.

30 September 2020
Reading Time
3 minute read


“Colour is the most interesting part of creating for me,” says London-based artist Sola Olulode. Born and bred in the south of the capital, she’s always been drawn to vibrancy and bright colours and while these often adorn the clothes she wears, they also feature in her figurative and expressive paintings. “I choose really vibrant colours to work with in my paintings, often to reflect the intense emotions,” she continues. “I like to get the balance of the colours right in order to translate the mood of the figures that I’m painting.” The foundation of this is the blue indigo Sola often uses to dye her canvases, giving her works a distinctive style from which her figures emerge in batik, wax, ink, pastel, oil and impasto.

In terms of subject matter, Sola paints what she’s missing or what she wants to see in the world, creating dreamy scenes involving Black British womxn and non-binary folx. In turn, there’s often a joyousness to her works; friends, families and lovers dance and embrace, emitting a much-welcomed warmth. In works like The Feels and A Perfect Summer’s Day, this is particularly evident, thanks in large part to Sola’s use of a yellow wash in combination with her signature batik. A method which sees her applying wax before dying her canvases, it produces a freeform and evocative line, only serving to further the sense of joy in Sola’s works, as if everyone exists in a hazy summer day.

Describing her practice as therapeutic, Sola explains that right now she’s drawn to “love stories and images of couples in love sharing intimacies and declaring their love outwardly, physically with the look of love in their eyes.” There’s a celebratory nature to Sola’s paintings of these couples which “transcend crude notions of queer sexuality” and “exemplify the warm embrace of queer love.”


Sola Olulode: The Feels (2019) and A Perfect Summer’s Day (2019), install at V.O. Curations (Copyright © Sola Olulode, 2020)

This has been the thematic anchor for Sola’s most recent series which sees couples laying in bed. Last year, she made a painting of a couple asleep together called Safety, a piece which was followed by a monoprint of a similar scene which has prompted a small series on this same couple. “It was recently pointed out to me by my friend Bolanle Tajudeen that we don’t often see images of Black womxn resting,” Sola tells us. “This really resonated with me. How can a painting of a Black womxn just sleeping be so radical? The images we are used to seeing of Black womxn feature them working, organising or fighting injustice, caring for others but never just being.”

Sola’s series on this couple is quiet in its protection of this “place of complete comfort and relaxation [that] is so sacred.” She continues: “The trust, love and tenderness needed in the bond needed to be able to be completely at peace with someone, so much so that you can fall asleep behind them and share your most intimate self with them. In this series, I’m talking about the importance of the relationships of which we share that space with.”

Having been interested in art from a young age, Sola’s practice is also influenced by film and photography along with other mediums, and she solidified her practice at the University of Brighton where she studied a BA in fine art painting. Painting and drawing, in particular, captivated her growing up as she “enjoyed starting with a blank surface and filling it with colour, shapes and lines to communicate an image from scratch.” With wide-ranging interests, however, she has plans to explore other mediums and wants to travel. “I’ve seen too little art in other countries and am eager to have experiences seeing different parts of the world and see how that can feed into my practice,” she concludes. “I want to continue to learn new things, doing residencies abroad where I can and short courses. And maybe finally explore filmmaking for myself.”

GallerySola Olulode


Van Goetz. This Is Cute (2018). Oil, oil pastel, oil bar, pastel & wax on canvas, 102 x 102 cm (Copyright © Sola Olulode 2018)


V.O. Curations. A Perfect Summer's Day (2019). Ink, Acrylic, oil pastel and wax on canvas, 60 x 80 cm (Copyright © Sola Olulode 2020)


V.O. Curations. Waves (2020). Ink and Acrylic on Fabric, 60 x 80 cm (Copyright © Sola Olulode 2020)


V.O. Curations. Eternal Light (2020). Ink, acrylic and wax on canvas, 210 X 150 cm (Copyright © Sola Olulode 2020)


V.O. Curations. Close To You (2019). Ink and acrylic on fabric, 150 x 120 cm. (Copyright © Sola Olulode 2020)


V.O. Curations. Loving You Is Like Living On A Wave (diptych) (2019). Charcoal, pastel, pigment wax on canvas, 122 x 122 cm (Copyright © Sola Olulode 2020)


Sola Olulode Studio. Hold My Hand (2019). Oil and ink on Canvas, 60 x 50 cm. (Copyright © Sola Olulode 2020)


Sola Olulode: Studio (Copyright © Sola Olulode 2020)

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Sola Olulode: V.O. Curations. Laying In The Grass (2020). Ink, oil, oil pastel, oil bar, charcoal and wax on canvas, 122 x 152 cm (Copyright © Sola Olulode 2020)

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About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.

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