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Laolu Senbanjo explains how his body art is like a 'dance between the paint and the flesh'

Former human rights attorney turned artist explains how his body art captures and preserves African traditions.
Artist Laolu Senbanjo (Courtesy of Laolu Senbanjo )

Laolu Senbanjo wasn't always working as an artist. Before his body art was featured in Beyoncé's music video for Sorry, Senbanjo was a human rights lawyer in Nigeria. "I've always been an artist, it's just that I became an attorney because that's what my parents wanted me to be," Senbanjo explains that growing up in Nigeria meant that his parents had a lot of control over his career. Wanting to pursue a job in the arts was "like an act of rebellion," he adds. But the artist says, "I knew that whatever I was doing was just going to be for a while, and then I was eventually going to find my way back into art." Although he wasn't sure how he'd make the transition, Senbanjo believed that it would happen.

Artist Laolu Senbanjo's body art. (Courtesy of Laolu Senbanjo)
Artist Laolu Senbanjo's body art and clothing designs. (Courtesy of Laolu Senbanjo)

With his days as an attorney behind him, Senbanjo now creates beautiful body art he describes as "Afromysterics." Afromysterics is a term he coined and is defined as "the mystery of the African thought pattern." Senbanjo says he studies different patterns and stories within African culture and tries to replicate them in his own style on the human body. "It's like a dance between the paint and the flesh," he explains. "I try to take people back to their ancestral state," says Senbanjo, while bringing the traditions from hundreds of years ago to the present through body art. Senbanjo says with his modern materials and tools, he can preserve these ancient cultural traditions and push them into the future. But the artist admits, "I hope it goes beyond me."

Artist Laolu Senbanjo's body art. (Courtesy of Laolu Senbanjo)

WEB Extra | Watch Beyoncé​'s music video for Sorry featuring Senbanjo's body art below.

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