As a Philadelphia artist who grew-up in the 80s, my inspiration is fueled by the vibrant and dynamic graffiti scrawled along the buildings, trains, and subway tunnels of my youth. For me, street art powerfully expressed the creativity and narrative of the people who made it. Today, my paintings reflect the bold stylizations of my childhood memories, while thematically addressing poetry, jazz, sports, and those in my community.
From my Germantown studio, I work in saturated oil colors on stretched canvas or wood panel and aspire to visually convey the human experience through gestural exaggeration and imagining words and sounds as colors and movement. By altering and pushing the figure’s anatomy, I am exploring and revealing a person’s truth. Through my storytelling, I hope to connect the viewer with the subject and make work that is not only seen but relatable and felt.
Oronde Kairi (b. 1975) is a Philadelphia artist whose paintings of abstracted, graphically stylized figures are inspired by the street art of his youth and his experiences growing-up in the 80s. He focuses thematically on sports, jazz, poetry, pop culture, and the figure.
Kairi has exhibited internationally at the Art Palermo International Biennial, Palermo, Italy; Michael Jackson Tribute Exhibition, Bucharest, Romania; and Michael Jackson Exhibition, São Paulo, Brazil. He has shown nationally in Pennsylvania, New York, Arkansas, California, and Virginia, and has been awarded The Best Modern & Contemporary Artist, 2021 and Black Music City Philadelphia Grant, 2021. Kairi was featured in Guide to Investing in Art, “50 Artists to Invest In” and Made In Magazine.
His artwork is in the corporate collections of: Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation, United Way of Chicago, and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Important private collections include: Patti Labelle, Lauryn Hill, Sandra Denton, and Jenice Armstrong. Kairi is represented by: The Art Collective Gallery, Rogers, AR; Art Hatch Gallery, Escondido, CA; and Urban Art Gallery, Philadelphia, PA, and he received his BFA in Illustration from the University of the Arts.