VILLAGER (b. Abdul Adaranijo in Lagos, Nigeria) is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Baltimore, MD whose work is centered around investigating humanity as an existential and energetic product of culture and social experience through an Afro-diasporic lens. Through their artistic practice, VILLAGER endeavors to scrutinize, deconstruct, and redefine the existential and paradoxical question of what it means to be a "contemporary African", echoing a re-examination of consciousness and existentialism grounded in African knowledge systems, cultural and spiritual practices, philosophies, and traditions. Their work reveres how the past is alive in the present, mindfully and intimately honoring the ancestors and their contributions that continue to inform and shape contemporary expressions and experiences. 

In 2020, they received a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Chemistry at Towson University. VILLAGER  has also been selected in group exhibitions, Sou(l): Mostra de Arte Afro-Diaspórica, Artspace Vigidal, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, BLAQ SHEEP, Superchief Gallery LA, Los Angeles, CA, AFROFUTURISM: 100 years after the Harlem Renaissance, Papermill Playhouse, Millburn, NJ, MOLASSES, THE ROUSE COMPANY FOUNDATION GALLERY at Howard Community College, Columbia, MD, TRUCE | The war in the world | The war within, Motor House, Baltimore, MD, Holiday on Holliday: Baltimore’s Mosaic of Holiday Hope & Harmony, Baltimore City Hall, Baltimore, MD, to name a few. In 2022, They had a debut solo exhibition, BUSH BOY at Chesapeake Arts Center and are scheduled for a solo exhibition IRIN AJO: The Journey at the Eubie Blake Jazz and Cultural Center in August 2024 and ÀṢẸ: Embodying the Divine at The Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower, Baltimore, MD in October 2024 as part of the highly received "Emerge Baltimore" series.

image by Erika 

more about me :)

I am formally trained as a Water Microbiologist and Environmental Researcher, receiving a B.S. in Environmental Science with a concentration in Chemistry and a minor in Chemistry from Towson University in 2020. My practice began in January 2022 during my second semester of graduate studies at UMBC studying Marine Estuary Environmental Science. During this time, I was lost in myself, mentally fatigued, and extremely drained- It felt like I living in the shell of my former self. I understood that I needed an outlet to communicate my evolving understanding of my humanity so on January 19th of that year, I sat down for 6 hours and painted my first ever painting titled "caged vessel", encouraging myself to engage in self-exploration and self-expression along the way. 8 months later, I chose to step away from my Master's program at UMBC to seek greater purpose through and for my work, establish a long-lasting studio practice, and develop a universal dialogue through my work. 

Truly, my art began as a way for me to EXIST in a world where I believed I was no longer. It granted me the opportunity to re-imagine my existence and begin to create the world I so much needed to exist within- that of the endless possibility of imagination, creativity, and humanity. My expressions of creativity continuously grant me the opportunity to reimagine my humanity and seek a greater purpose in existence. In the physical, my works are an extension of my body, mind, thoughts, and all aspects of my humanity. The deliberation & investigation of my purpose of existence which began when I was 15, is forever channeled in the present and evolves as I continue to develop this communication.

Currently, I am working on a painting series that follows my new investigation of capturing the essence of one’s spirit and intrinsic energy using cowries as a portal of gaze and object of corporeality called “ÀṢẸ  AESTHETICS”. The works are an intrinsic extension of ÀṢẸ, embodying the ancestral, spiritual, and metaphysical, inviting us to explore the unseen and hidden energies that resonate within our own inner and outer worlds. 

I currently live and work in Baltimore, MD with my partner and collaborator, Kehinde, where we both manage THE VILLAGE! STUDIO - a community-oriented studio space rooted in holding space for community- through open mics, community conversations and dialogues, movie nights and discussions, artist talks, workshops, book clubs, and culinary experiences.