About

https://www.instagram.com/lanreolagoke/

Born in London in 1962, Lanre Olagoke grew up in Nigeria, where his family moved to when he was four, before returning to London at nineteen. Passionate about colours, he started painting at age five, and his current body of work tells the journey from homelessness to hope.  

Lanre founded the Art-Alive Arts Trust in 1997, a registered charity in the UK as a charity. Over the years, AAAT has helped thousands of children, adolescents and young adults find opportunities to realise their potential and find their place in society through the use of art. Lanre says, "their overwhelming desire is the chance to be heard, and they find that expressing their views and frustrations through arts gives them a sense of belonging and self-worth."


Born in London in 1962, Lanre Olagoke grew up in Nigeria, where his family moved to when he was four, before returning to London at nineteen. Passionate about colours, he started painting at age five, and his current body of work tells the journey from homelessness to hope.  

Lanre founded the Art-Alive Arts Trust in 1997, a registered charity in the UK as a charity. Over the years, AAAT has helped thousands of children, adolescents and young adults find opportunities to realise their potential and find their place in society through the use of art. Lanre says, "their overwhelming desire is the chance to be heard, and they find that expressing their views and frustrations through arts gives them a sense of belonging and self-worth."


Raised by an affluent Nigerian family that lacked an understanding of the importance of art led Lanre on a downward spiral. Drugs and gambling took him from being a promising student to homelessness on the streets of London. "People, including family, thought I had gone crazy", recalls Lanre.

But the young painter found solace in his work. An early inspiration was Ben Enwonwu, the first African to receive the honour of sculpting from Her Royal Highness the Queen. "I first met Professor Ben Enwonwu in the mid-80s and became his apprentice. I was honoured to be in the presence of a legend, a very particular one at that time. He told me never to forget that no one can be like Lanre and that the talent I have been given will make me great. He was my mentor and my inspiration". Lanre also gathers his inspiration from life experiences, surrounding environment and Music – which great creators, including Cassandra Wilson, have collected his work.

"I am thrilled that after my journey from homelessness to the stability of my own home and family (wife Simone and daughters Adeola and Remi-Anna), my work now helps others who, like me, didn't think it possible for their lives to be turned around. I never gave up, though; painting was my joy and salvation.

He has exhibited worldwide, including New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Barcelona, France, Africa and UK. Lanre pioneered the first-ever Soho Arts Fair in Soho, where over 200 youths perform every year on Carnaby Street, Soho. In 2014, he organised The Big Soho Clean Up, engaging 100 youths from the local community to clean up the area's streets.  

Lanre's piece illustrates specific points in his life with great use of colour and light. His work captures pictorial rhythms and colour harmonies that are truly unique:
"Whenever I paint, I am happy, and if I'm going through pain, all I need is a brush and paint. I no longer need drinks or drugs - I have found pride in my creativity. I love people, and my travels through America, Europe and Africa have given me a wealth of knowledge and an understanding of people and their uniqueness. This has influenced my work greatly. An intellectual approach to my art is not necessary. Emotion is beyond intellect. Reality is not always logical, but it is within us all.' And I thank God for what He has done and still doing."

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