Art for Ndidi Emefiele Ezumba is not just a medium of expression, it’s a medium of protest and protect. The Nigeria born visual artist is one wonder woman who has carved up a sector of visual art and using it to the fullest.
Her latest stint has been the use of recycled materials to explore the controversial topic of gender inequality in Nigeria, using the most unconventional means to pass out a conventional message. The fight for Ndidi has to be fought with unconventional warfare; unconventional art. The Winner of the Oliver Prize for excellence by the Slade School of Fine Arts had a one on one with us and well, let’s just say she had a lot to say
Ladies and Gentlemen. This is Ndidi Emefiele Ezumba. Unconventional Artists, Spellbinding Art
ASIRI – At what stage in your life did you feel like you works earned you the title of being an artist?
It is hard to say exactly when I considered myself an artist. I remember desiring to be one as a child which was quite uncommon and I kept making lots of sketches which may or may not be seen as art. I believe intent and purpose helps define ones true state of being. May be I am making work now more purposefully so maybe I’m an artist.
ASIRI- What inspires your remarkable style of painting?
I grew up looking at works of great Artist in Art history books. I was particularly drawn to the impressionist movement. I made heavily coated landscapes for a couple years and began to get bored with them, the process began to feel very mundane so I sort to find ways to make the process exciting. I began to incorporate random materials that gave pleasure to touch into my work which has has led up to what I’m still doing. I look at magazines, animal magazines,fashion,food, garden,bizarre,all sorts. Clock bezels, compact disk .There no limits to what can go on a painting.
ASIRI- First thing that comes to your head when starting off a work piece
I get into a complete state of flux, ideas clashing with each other. I begin to make a mental separation to enable decision making. Restructuring thoughts,forms before placing them on a surface. My mind is really Pre-occupied with a lot of sensible and not so sensible ideas but my biggest concern is being able to translate my thoughts into visuals and convey which ever message I want to put across.
ASIRI- How has your cultural heritage affected your style of art/creativity?
There are certain materials and elements that I’m able to use in my work which has intrinsic traditional qualities derived from my locality to enrich the work. I grew up in Nigeria so I still feel very connected to my place of birth and I use my work to address pressing issues and investigate social and cultural factors that affects perception and deconstruct fixed notions of identity and other stereotypical behaviors.
ASIRI- Do people size your work in relationship with age at times?
The thought of that hasn’t really crossed my mind. I really don’t know, hopefully not.Then again I have had some encounter the works before they get to see the artist and my age becomes inconsequential in that regards. They are so many young talented and brilliant artist. It would be grossly wrong to use the age of a person in any given profession to evaluate their potential.
ASIRI-As a woman blazing the trail in the art work has there been any time your gender has been a plus or minus to your Art?
Being female causes me to try harder to get as much recognition as my male counterparts. Females are still very under represented in the art world. In exhibitions,auctions ant etc. the imbalance is very noticeable.
ASIRI- Do you retain a sense of your personality in your painting as most great artist do?
The Artist Retaining a sense of their personality in their work is not something I would think the artist puts a lot of thought into, I believe it’s something that comes through. Who you are is reflected to a certain extent in what you do except you are consciously making an attempt to create a disconnect from your persona and what you make.
ASIRI-Art in Africa, in Nigeria is gradually taking a stand, what’s your take on that
It’s exciting to see The Nigerian Art market growing rapidly. There’s been significant improvements in the last couple of years and in Africa at large which has seen the emergence of dynamic talents from across the continent. This is redirecting the focus of the Artworld and hopefully that gaze stays fixed on Artist of African origin.
ASIRI-Looking back on your journey as an artist, from the first art work to your current exhibition, what has the experience been like?
My works has evolved since I began making work and it’s constantly changing. Looking back and experiencing now Spurs me to keep giving all of me. Now makes me want to try out things I never did with my work. Having conversations with other artist from diverse backgrounds broadens my scope and is helping me navigate my way through arts. Most current exhibitions are “global African profiles” at the gallery of African Arts alongside the very talented Daniela Ribeiro and my graduate degree show at the Slade school of fine Arts.
ASIRI – Your style of Art is edgy and innovative, what fuels that element of your work?
I‘m constantly trying out new ways to make works, introducing new materials. I’m all about collaging so I’m always sourcing materials to keep the work fresh, dynamic and interesting.
ASIRI – What’s the next step for your now? What do you want to achieve in the next 10 years as an artist?
In order not to answer in way as cliched as the question, I would say I’m painting almost everyday. Doing the bits here and there to enrich my practice. Opening up to other possibilities. Venturing into other forms and media, travelling more, asking more questions, finding answers, seeking truths. Where ever these leads to,I’m very open to it. I don’t know what will happen in 10year,hopefully I’m way up there.
ASIRI – One weird habit that forms the real part of you as an artist
One out of many is that I’m able to communicate verbally with my paintings. It’s usually a private conversation so It doesn’t occur in-shared studios or in front of an audience and I happen to believe they understand.
ASIRI – What do you think about ASIRI Magazine?
Any magazine that discusses Arts, promotes and encourages Art is good magazine. ASIRI is definitely worth a read and thank you for the feature.
Image Credits: Ndidi Enefiele Ezumba
Special Thanks to Belinda Otas,and Gallery of African Art,London.
Global African profiles is currently showing at Gallery of African Art until 3 July.” http://www.gafraart.com
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