Oluwole Omofemi is a visual artist from Ibadan whose area of painting is basically Afro hairstyle. He recently had his solo art exhibition in London, just before the Covid-19 pandemic in England. In this meeting with Edozie Udeze, he recalls his vivid memories of the tour and how he narrowly escaped the blockade in England
In Ibadan, where he is based, Oluwole Omofemi is well known for his deep art in painting, even more so for his love for the afro hairstyle. "I do this mainly to revisit the past," he said once. In March, he was in London for a solo art exhibition that was almost abandoned by Covid-19. Omofemi, however, was never intimidated as he relates in this interview.
He said: “Although it was not the first time that I left the country, I went to Cotonou, in the Republic of Benin, before my trip to the United Kingdom, it was a wonderful experience. My stop in Turkey, whose airport was a breathtaking sight, was a rare visual delight.
In addition, the sudden change from tropical heat to winter cold was a source of mild agitation. I remembered looking out of place in my native dress, worn in several layers, against the onslaught of winter.
On the night of my arrival, the pandemic had not yet spread, only a few cases reported. I was taken around town visiting Soothe at an art auction and other galleries in Mayfair, London. I also visited the Tate Museum and the Central Mosque in London. The exhibition itself opened with an impressive participation. I must confess that I missed my regular African dishes, which had to follow a strange diet that consisted mainly of hamburger and chocolate. Until the last day of the exhibition, when my host took me to an African restaurant. My Signature Gallery host did a great job of ensuring that the exhibition was a success in providing logistics and ensuring that my work was well framed.
I paid a visit to the queen's neighborhood. I realized that African arts, due to Africa's complex history, have more depth than European arts. The exhibition gave me more international exhibitions opening more doors.
European arts, for the most part, are aimed at the upper class, elitist in content, often representing the sublime, the sublime and the imposing. African arts show the everyday experiences of the common man, based on the aspects of life and the social pattern of the common man.
African arts derive their subject from the local values of society, often combining different messages and shades of meaning that can be political and aesthetic.
African arts are sometimes restricted by tradition as opposed to the freedom of their western counterpart.
African arts also often include elements of color, music and dance.
Being an emerging artist in Africa has its own inherent challenges because of the low level of education and enlightenment there. I started my career painting small children because of the compassion I feel for the needy children in society. My later experiences in life had a transforming impact on my personal style … I mean everyday experiences that combine to shape my artistic vision. I faced the rejection of my parents, who preferred a more professional career for their son. I was also turned down by some galleries who thought I was too light for them.
I heard some artists say that they create styles, I don't agree with that. For me, "style comes naturally to the artist". It is a unique individual thing for each artist.
The blockade exposed some hidden weaknesses in our economic system.
In fact, it kept me indoors with my family. I had to use my home studio normally used for small jobs for bigger tasks. Many galleries were closed because people were spending less on artwork, preferring to spend on their immediate needs. In fact, many art galleries could not pay their bills. The blockade reveals the need for artists to find alternative sources of income. This would inspire more confidence in obtaining better prices for his works.
I was influenced by talented artists like Gustav Glimt, Picasso Leonado da Vincin, Mian Situ, Segun Aiyesan, Abiodun Alaku Ebenezer Akinola, Tolu Aliki etc.
My relationship with them had an impact or another in my work. Your contributions and positive corrections were very helpful.