Lagosian Art Scene on the Rise
photography & interview by Daniel Obasi
art c/o Tito Aderemi-Ibitola, Yadichinma Ukoha-Kalu, Jimi Agboola, Osaze Amadasun, and Fred Aghuno
Despite periodic explosions of creative ingenuity in Lagos, Nigeria, attention is generally fixated on popular artists who use social engagement to attract some form of international acclaim as a proof of artistic relevance. To make matters worse, the challenges faced by artists range from lack of adequate government involvement, an absence of creative spaces, insufficient resources, restricted access to public spaces, and the mindsets of a huge percentage of the society. Still, The culture and excitement of discovering and nurturing new talents might gradually become the new business venture for art enthusiasts in Lagos.
Lagos' emerging artists reflect on the city's art scene, challenges, and their work.
24 year-old Tito Aderemi-Ibitola was born in Lagos and raised in the US. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts, she moved back to Lagos to explore the possibilities of a career in the arts. With the allure of a theatre girl, Tito is a contemporary performance artist who describes her works as esoteric and theoretical. Not restricting her work to a particular medium, she explores painting, sculpting and installations but engages the most in esoteric mediums — performance art and video art.
Tito on creating — "…this is how my soul, body, and thoughts find expression. I choose to make art that is relevant socially and focuses particularly on issues dealing with the welfare of women and political autonomy…I believe the world is better able to hear questions through an art framing.”
Yadichinma Ukoha-Kalu is a 21 year-old experimental artist currently living in Lago. Interested in creating and expressing with various media, she uses these means to document her experiences. My first introduction to her work was a series focusing on lines against solid or textured backgrounds found on Instagram.
Perceiving the world through 'the African-Lagos filter,' Yadi is able to draw from beneath the surface of the Lagos influence. She finds a certain comfort in its chaos to create. “Lagos has become a way of life," Yadichinma says. "Lagos is home and I have been able to achieve a certain level of comfort in all its rowdiness.”
“black and white sad gay aesthetics”21 year-old photographer based in Lagos, Jimi Agboola describes the impression his work has on people as a form of depressing outlook inspired by his personal journey and struggles as an artist.
With a sheer desire to create something amazing and true, one of the most intrusive qualities of his works would be the soft rebellion and a witty suggestion to look deeper into his portraits. This similar aesthetics comes to life in his recent video work ‘Bronze’ with Nvkubi a Nigerian alternative singer.
“People don't respect art here, I mean there are loads of artists but then there are more people who don't care such energy just discourages young artists. Some parents don't care, the government doesn't care either.”
Famous for his illustrations of Fela Kuti, Osaze Amadasun is a graduate of Architecture, an illustrator, and graphics artist living in Lagos. His works offers a comical and satirical look at the society, often political or historical.
Choosing a career in the arts over architecture, Osaze exudes a rare passion for his art and a willingness to learn and grow. "I have to figure lots of things myself,” Osaze admits. As far as inspirations within the continent and Lagos, he is determined to look inwards instead at the basics and the vision behind his work. Tapping into the energy and diverse cultures that play out daily on the streets, he finds inspiration even in the yellow danfo buses.
“….LIGHT!!!!!!!! aka NEPA!!! aka ELECTRICITY!!," Osaze names his biggest challenge. The electricity here is so poor and very unpredictable, lack of proper infrastructures, the economy and the right people to work with.”
Moving forward — “Currently interested in documenting and storytelling through my work, centered on local content while blending in popular culture. I'm trying to create works that are super niched, things people around me can relate to and will also remain relevant to the future generations.”
From painting one of a kind backdrops for his twin brother’s look book collections to premium global collaborations with brands like Orange Culture, Fred Aghuno [also known as Dricky Stickman] is carefully building a brand as a graffiti artist and painter through; mixed media, street style fashion and provocative paintings.
“I didn't want a suit and tie job,” he realized. “Every day I tour Lagos collecting experiences daily and being inspired by the different sections of the city.”
He believes young artists should play a larger role in modern day development in Lagos. The unconventional jobs allow artists to inspire others to want to pick up a craft or vocation rather than wait for 'imaginary jobs.'
Art is often underprized and unappreciated yet getting art materials and resources are often problematic and difficult.