Zadie Smith portrait added to the National Portrait Gallery


Zadie Smith’s painting nicknamed “a love letter to black Britain” by her Nigerian artist becomes newest addition to National Portrait Gallery

  • Zadie Smith’s full-length portrait by Nigerian-born artist Toyin Ojih Odutola
  • Author Smith said that “the art of Odutola will have a huge effect on young people”
  • The National Portrait Gallery in London said the painting was “beautiful and monumental”










A painting by author Zadie Smith dubbed “a love letter to black Britain” by his Nigerian artist is expected to be the most recent addition to the National Portrait Gallery in London.

The gallery said the “beautiful and monumental” artwork “represents another” step in its commitment “to increase the representation of black women, models and artists.”

The full-length portrait of the author of White Teeth is the work of Nigerian-born American artist Toyin Ojih Odutola.

Smith said that “Odutola’s art will have a huge effect on young people because I’m a grown woman ** and it has had a huge effect on me.”

Smith's painting (pictured in 2019) is expected to be the newest addition to London's National Portrait Gallery

A painting (left) by author Zadie Smith (right in 2019) dubbed “a love letter to black Britain” by his Nigerian artist is expected to be the newest addition to the National Portrait Gallery in London

She added, “Becoming familiar with her images is like having me deliver something that I missed and wanted in my childhood now, as an adult.

“And being a Toyin creation myself, on the walls of the Portrait Gallery?” It’s incredible. I still can’t believe it.

The artist said: “When I received the letter that I was to create a commissioned portrait of Zadie, I cried.

“The National Portrait Gallery is one of my favorite museums in the world and Zadie is one of my favorite writers of all time.

“It was surreal. I took this order to heart and wanted to create a tribute to this woman’s important work, but also a love letter to black Britain.

Smith (pictured in 2016) said that

Toyin Ojih Odutola earlier this year

Smith (pictured in 2016) said “Odutola’s art will have a huge effect on young people because I’m a grown woman ** and it has had a huge effect on me”

The full-length portrait of the author of White Teeth (pictured) is the work of Nigerian-born American artist Toyin Ojih Odutola

The full-length portrait of the author of White Teeth (pictured) is the work of Nigerian-born American artist Toyin Ojih Odutola

She said she wanted to “show a successful, bright and confident person in her element, with her natural hair loose and loose, and legs squarely crossed, taking her place however she sees fit, looking directly at the viewer. “.

Odutola added: “That doesn’t mean – yes, she also belongs to this space, but rather – we all belong here, we always have and always will.”

Gallery Director Nicholas Cullinan said: “We are delighted to have commissioned this magnificent and monumental new portrait of one of the greatest literary voices of our time by one of the most innovative and exciting artists working today. ‘hui.

“It also represents another important step – among many that are needed and planned over the next few years – in our continued commitment to increase the representation of both black women, models and artists within our collection. . “

The gallery is currently closed for three years of redevelopment.

The painting will be on display to the public at the Brent Museum and Archive, in the area of ​​northwest London where Smith grew up, later this year as part of Brent 2020, London Borough of Culture.


Julia P. Cluff