New works by Bidemi Oloyede are on view as part of the CONTACT Photography Festival at the Peel Art Gallery, Museum + Archives (PAMA). The exhibition will run from April 29 to August 31 as part of the SCOTIABANK CONTACT PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL 2022.


Over the last decade, Nigerian-born photographer Bidemi Oloyede has made Toronto his home and the primary source for his series of nuanced portraits depicting members of the Black community. Three recent works, presented as large-scale banners on the fa├žade of the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives (PAMA), focus on the Black male subject. Strong, vibrant, and inimitable, these men are immortalized on a massive scale. 

 Purposefully embracing a traditional style of photography, Oloyede uses a large-format film camera, which requires substantial preparation, technical knowledge, and care to produce just one negative. Using this medium, he connects his images to the past, to a time when Black subjects were rarely recorded in photographs, except in contrived images that portrayed them as one-dimensional and generic, with the express intention of situating them as inferior to white subjects and as lacking in depth and character. Through his intentional act of picture taking, Oloyede reclaims the Black subject and affirms their participation in the world. The tonality of his photographs recalls historical documentary-style photography, thereby suggesting that these images are intended as archival records.