Tobi Onabolu is a storyteller who exists at the intersections between the conceptual, audiovisual, written, and experiential arts.
Interrogating mindfulness, identity, space, and spirituality, Tobi creates work which celebrate African and Diasporic cultures and identities. His short film, Dear Black Child, speaks directly to these themes, which won the prize for best score, at the Cannes Indie Shorts Awards.
Through writing, sound, and performance, Tobi extends this approach to poetry, which has seen him perform internationally including at the Royal Albert Hall, at Soho House with a bespoke installation, and Pakhuis de Zwijger (Amsterdam).
In 2021, Tobi launched Babouche!, in collaboration with Nigerian designer, kkerele, offering a contemporary re-imagination of the popular eponymous African shoe. In his capacity as a cultural strategist, over consecutive years Tobi has helped to deliver, #MyLoveIsBlackLove, an initiative led by dating app Bumble, celebrating love in Britain.
Between 2018 - 2020, after a number of years spent at leading global creative agencies, Tobi spearheaded communications for ART X Lagos, west Africa’s premier international art fair. In this post he successfully ran impactful marketing campaigns, helping to position the art fair as one of the continent’s leading cultural platforms.
Tobi holds an MA in Africa Studies from SOAS, University of London, with a thesis focussed on his great-uncle, Chief Aina Onabolu, who is widely acknowledged and celebrated as the founding father of Nigerian modernism. He also holds a BA in French & Philosophy from Durham University.
He has collaborated with brands including Uber and Foot Locker, and his work has been featured on billboards and national newspapers across the UK, in exhibitions, and on media platforms including Dazed, AFROPUNK, gal-dem, Native, GQ, Blavity, and A2.O mag.
Tobi is a contributing writer to publications including artnet News, shado mag, and Postscript London. He divides his time between west Africa and London.
Image credit: Ifebusola Shotunde