What does “visual art” mean to you?
Visual art means life to me. It means seeing beyond what is and translating it to art, almost like seeing with your soul; an expression of the artist’s essence. It is pure magic and only a few people understand it.
How did you get started with art?
Well, I have been drawing for as long as I can remember. In nursery school, we were asked to draw a kettle and I remember how my teacher couldn’t believe what I had drawn, how neat it was and so close to the original one she put up. I remember how she called other teachers to see, and how my cheeks burned red from all the attention. That is my earliest drawing memory and ever since then, I would fill any surface, including school books, with anything that comes to mind. But my career as an artist started right after university, where I studied visual arts. Art has always been there, it’s my talent, god’s gift and I feel really blessed he thought to give it to me.
What are some of the challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them?
*sighs* Well it’s one thing to have a talent or skill and then a whole other thing to translate it to a means of livelihood. That’s my biggest challenge and the fear of failing. I have been part of exhibitions and art shows where I didn’t sell a single artwork, and that set me back by a lot; almost to the point of depression. The way to bounce back is to remember “I am in love”, “art is my love and God’s precious gift to me.” I try to say this a million times because it’s really difficult to pour yourself into an artwork and then be rejected. Praying helps a lot too and then struggling to try again and again.
What comes to mind when you hear “Nigeria and art”?
Festac 77, Igbo Ukwu art, Owo art, Ife, Esie soapstone, Benin bronze heads. Nigeria’s history is embedded in art, it’s incredible. Somehow it all seems vague as we are not quite tapping into it as most other countries around the world. That’s unfortunate.
What do you think can be done to get Nigeria to tap into its art resources?
*sigh* I guess the art industry needs closer attention, I think it has a whole lot to offer the Nigerian economy. The entire system (art and tourism) needs to be managed by actual artists that understand the need to promote the Nigerian culture, and what better way if not through art. Artists need to be encouraged as well.
What trends do you see in the Nigerian art industry?
At the moment I think that most people are experimenting different art media, mixing them to form abstract expressions. That seems to be the trend. Also, photography is trending as an art form. Recent group exhibitions I have attended have featured photography collections, which were quite impressive.
What do you want your viewers to take away from your artwork?
I want my art to be a source of hope to whoever sees it.
Who are some of your favorite artists and how do they influence you?
Artist’s that have influenced me, especially towards mixed media and experimental art, are Chris Ofili and Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA). I came across them during my final years as an undergraduate. Their artworks are so captivating and the stories behind them, mind-blowing. Their works are huge inspirations. Also El Anatsui, an incredible installation artist.
How has social media played a role in your art?
I guess it has helped me, to an extent, get exposure. I haven’t sold any artworks via social media yet, so just exposure.
Interesting. So, apart from visual art. What other forms of art are you into?
Well, I write a bit, and sing too 🙂
What do you do when not working?
When I am not working, I read a book, sleep, listen to music, dance, watch a movie…
What is the one question that nobody has ever asked you?
Umm… more like what does everyone always ask – “can you draw me?” Lol. I always roll my eyes at that one.
One last question, can you draw me? (lol)
*Rolling my eyes* Bye Ahisu!
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