Komi Olaf is a visual artist, Poet and Architectural designer who is best known for his ability to represent, both visually and poetically, the complexities of the world and generation he finds himself within. In recent years, Komi’s art has been shaped by a cultural and artistic movement known as Afrofuturism, which explores African and African diasporic cultures in the intersection with technology. Through the lens of Afrofuturism, Komi has been able to transmit his sense of pride in the African cultures from which his perspectives emerge while reflecting his interest in using artistry to reconnect Black people to a shared sense of history, resilience and strength. In Komi’s most recent work, these ideas are most obviously transmitted through “Chikis”--a conceptual tribe who can change colour, emulate culture, and exist above the superficial differentiators of the average human. These metaphorical figures of African consciousness give Komi Olaf the ability to depict and comment upon the history, present and future of cultures arising from Africa and its global diaspora. Komi’s paintings have been the subject of four solo exhibitions: Kindred Blues (Steam Whistle Art Gallery, Toronto, 2019), Alkebulan (Harbourfront Centre, Toronto, 2015, Alkebulan (Harbourfront Centre, Toronto, 2015), Angels of Music (National Arts Centre, Ottawa, 2009), Fire Dance (Gallery 101, Ottawa, 2008). His paintings have also been part of group exhibitions in New York, Paris, Accra, Lagos and Ottawa. He is currently focused on creating murals, book illustrations and paintings that incorporate elements of technology and encourage multi-dimensional engagement with his art.
Komi’s ability to employ image, metaphor, symbolism and cultural commentary are qualities that also extend to his work as a poet and spoken word artist. Komi’s performance poetry has, since 2008, reflected a keen sense of musicality and orality, along with a willingness to bend or defy the conventions of the spoken word by integrating live painting and music. He has toured Canada extensively as a performance poet, including notable appearances at Vancouver Island Music Festival, Ottawa VERSeFest, Hillside Community Festival, and Manifesto Festival. He is a former Canadian national slam champion (Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, 2009) whose poetry has been published in national anthologies, and most recently, Arc Poetry Magazine.
Komi Olaf is also an architectural designer who earned his Master of Architecture degree from Carleton University in 2009. His academic research focused on the limits and uses of improvisation in architecture. The principles of improvisation, assemblage and collage are still potent sources of creativity and invention for Komi Olaf, the influence of which can be seen and felt equally in his painting, poetry, and design work.