The creative process changes with my mood. There is no direct process. On one canvas, I can start a painting by first making a sketch. Then on other times, I play with colors, step back, and ‘read’ the unconsciously laid patterns. I retranslate these patterns into identifiable forms.
Art is a strong catalyst for progressive change and connection among peoples. It delineates cultural patterns and highlights societal trends in an exaggerated manner. Due to the lack of properly laid structures and middlemen who manage the arts in Nigeria, the artist finds himself playing various roles. He becomes the art critic, the curator, the marketer and art historian as he tries to fill the voids as they appear in his development as an artist. The Nigerian artist hitherto becomes a masquerade that wears many masks, showing a different face on each new stage of performance. Again, one wants to change the status-quo where the stories of Africa are being told from outside. We can write our own.
Since writing my undergraduate thesis (Colonial Influences on the Arts of My people) at Nsukka, I have remained intrigued by the culture of people-language, dress, customs, traditions, local histories etc. My work investigates the immediate environment, becoming a response to the stimuli of living, an autobiographical essay that stretches with each new experience. I am interested in the relationship (or not) drawn up in the study of languages, between the sign, the symbol and the signified; the object and its signifier. A man is a physical being, then in language again, MAN signifies the being. Text becomes important in my visual narrative. Sometimes I use unrelated, disassociated words with the intention to stir the mind into forming new ‘pictures’ based on the viewer’s experience of words.
Beauty, and aesthetics becomes a presentation that relays a story. The object or subject is not beautiful on its own based on proportions. It ‘becomes’ beautiful (or not) based on its interactions and very existence.
Coming from the Nsukka School, known for investigating the uli, nsibidi and adinkra traditions, among other native art traditions, I have grown the discourse by choosing to investigate the transience of contemporary experience. Recognizing new realities and our jet-speed age of information overdose, I am fascinated by the new meanings and associations of experience. I explore the rereading on traditional structures, and sometimes, jettisoning of age-old traditions for ‘modern’ mindsets (in my case, the importance of human relationships, sex, love, marriage, new life, divorce, and death). The African human condition suddenly appears, existence becomes subservient to powerful forces in the environment and the pressures of the West that suggest a neo-colonialist intent in the commonwealth of nations.
My work continually pushes from two-dimensional to a multi-dimensionality. I ‘read’ text as having both formal and ideological significances. I am interested in fusing sound (apart from ‘writing’, suggesting ideas) Color and patterns are of utmost importance, working coherently to relocate meanings.