I was born into the human world at the stroke of midnight, Sunday morning, July 18th 1982. I began expressing artistic tendencies at age three using twigs and broomsticks to draw endless patterns all over my Grandma’s backyard.
I studied art in the Fine and Applied Arts Department of the University of Benin, graduating as a painting major in 2005.
After a stint in creative advertising, I decided to focus on my art practice. I currently live in Canada with my family.
In my practice, I draw, paint, and create sculptural works using a variety of materials including wood, ink, paper, plastic, beads, and metal. Through these pieces, I explore themes of frailty, time (how we perceive it), and immigration; for the latter, I am particularly interested in how travel and transplantation affect the human condition.
Having been previously educated in classical European figurative painting, my latest works over the years depart from this realism-centric training and towards a more personalized narrative – one that allows me the freedom to choose from a broader pool of aesthetic systems.
I explore the sculptural possibilities of painting in my “Time Doors” series, in which audience members are invited to physically manipulate certain parts of the work (for example, keys in keyholes). To me these pieces function as portals of my own life, inspired by many encounters with indecision and internal confusion that plagued the earlier stages of my artistic journey. The doors reveal an internal landscape, alluding to the many opportunities that we confront at every moment, as well as the interconnectedness of our choices.
I also make work in response to pressing issues of my home country, Nigeria, including immigrants’ lives and dignity, violence against innocent migrants, and the challenges of diaspora. One such series, “Displaced Baggage,” is centered around telling stories — both personal and witnessed — of the tensions inherent in seeking location while experiencing dislocation. In West Africa of 1983, nylon tote bags gained visual notoriety as well as the nickname of “Ghana Must Go” due to the abrupt ejection of over two million immigrants, mostly Ghanians, from Nigeria. It was in these nylon bags, brightly patterned in plaid, that the immigrants used to gather what little belongings they could and then flee. I make direct visual references to this pattern, using the intersecting colours and lines of the plaid to reflect the many overlapping quandaries, constant journeys, and difficult decisions that face Nigerian immigrants. Their lives are very much like the lines that form the patterns on these ubiquitous bags, a symbol of the uprooted — willingly or otherwise — and of those in search of a better life.
In many ways I see myself as an immigrant, escaping the restrictions and trappings of old habits and situations, and in search of new possibilities. Underpinning all of my work is a desire to expose sensitivities connected with community, migration, and reclamation of identity.
Contact me via;
Mobile no: +1 647 834 7844
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