ABEND: I was reading your posts on Instagram while looking through your work and noticed that it’s very poetic and, at the same time, rather allegorical. Would you tell me about the influences on your work? For example, I read your post about COVID and being isolated and how that made you feel.
IFEOLUWA: Thank you very much; this is really an amazing opportunity for me to express myself beyond my canvas. I will simply say that my experience in my immediate environment is the sincere factor that triggers my inspiration to create. I have not really noticed being poetic but, of course, I do make short stories while writing just to create an entrance for my audience to feel deeply how I feel, to let them have a taste of my mood.
Basically, my experiences, ranging from my childhood memories, interacting with my environment and day-to-day engagement with friends, inspires what I create. I tell myself often that I paint moods because I find it interesting and captivating when I see expression on people's face which has significant meaning and could practically tell stories beyond what is being seen.
ABEND: I’m curious about the trompe l’oeil way you work to create a sense that your figures are made out of woven material. How did that emerge in your work and what is the meaning behind the weaving?
IFEOLUWA: The style wasn't an urgent realisation; it's a result from stages of a developmental process, which I started with Araism while learning from Jonathan Imafidor. It evolved over time as a result of my quest to have my own voice. I did a subtraction [minimalization] and was painting strokes and dots, which later moved to floral strokes and dots, and finally to my current state of expression.
I believe that a person or an object is not just a single entity. A person is a creation of combined ingredients like thoughts, experiences, stories, subjects, moods, and philosophy. Humans are weaved by different thoughts, experiences, stories, and all. I tried to leave some space out and some strokes loosed, which signifies that no humans have a perfect life or story.
I recently deduced that the style communicates a different meaning in distance. It looks blended in distance and people can hardly see details of the strokes; this is the same thing that happens to humans with presumptions when we don't know some individuals intimately to know what and how they were being weaved up or who they really are. Rather we pass judgement based on our personal philosophy, which might not be the truth in the end.
ABEND: What brought you to art and, in particular, painting?
IFEOLUWA: As a kid, we all practiced Art. Every kid attempts drawing, but the difference is some had the supports of their parents and wards while some did not. But to me, Art is more like a calling. I think my parents are in the best position to tell that story…
When I was much younger, there is this attitude of mine that always got my dad concerned and baffled; my books would always be soaked in tears whenever I tried reading. When I was asked, the only reason I could come up with was that my neck hurts anytime I read. But same me would spend hours drawing in that same position without feeling a thing. My dad practically told me he could not continue buying me textbooks since all I do is picture reading. No image, no reading. Isn't that amazing?
Painting was my first technique when I decided to do art in 2013 and it's the reason I do more of it till date. I love sculpture too and that actually has a bit of influence in my recent style. I'm planning on taking my art to the next phase by exploring the sculptural end to it.
ABEND: Is there a theme or something that connects the work you have in the Abend show?
IFEOLUWA: My works are about projecting one's inner mind, which I tried to portray in surrealism to make it easy enough for my audience to relate with. The works solely cover the mood and feeling mostly displayed by people in love; how they create imaginary pictures and cherish unforgettable memories while away from each other, thus releasing some hormones, which gets them smiling even in the absence of their partner. I know words cannot express these ideas perfectly, but my art can.
ABEND: You work in oil, acrylic, watercolor, and drawing. How do you decide what medium to select?
IFEOLUWA: Basically, what determines my choice of medium is availability and accessibility. I use materials that are available in my locality. Oil colour, acrylics, watercolor and pencils have been great media of exploration. Other times, I don't get to decide what medium to use for a particular work, as the inspiration comes, it suggests the medium that will be suitable.
ABEND: What is life in Nigeria like for an artist? Are there many opportunities? And, what inspires you?
IFEOLUWA: According to Ann Landers, "most people don't recognise opportunities, because opportunities are usually disguised as hard work." This has been one motivation that has kept me going. Yes, to achieve a lot and go as high as you aim in no time, you need network and connection. But who says you don't have a life without connection? It just might take time. Albert Einstein says, "in the middle of difficulty lies opportunities." I personally don't believe it's easy to have a life anywhere in the world, we just have to keep our heads high together with our hopes because excuses will always be there but opportunities won't. These are the things that inspire me amid my daily life; if you do not have connection, you create one.