Akintobi Ezekiel Akintayo is an artist who studied Fine Art at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State. Here, he talks about his unique style, exhibitions, challenges and more.
What motivated you to go into art?
Akintobi Ezekiel Akintayo: Art is something that has always come naturally to me. I’ve been doing arts as far back as primary three. When I was in primary school, I would draw lots of characters from movies, comic books and cartoons. When I got to secondary school, I drew with my classmates for competitions and also used to draw my classmates for fun. So, when the time came to pick a course to study in the university, the logical choice for me was to study Fine Arts and that gave me the tutelage needed to complement my innate talent.
What was your parents’ reaction when you decided to pursue art as a career?
At first, my mum was against it due to the mentality people have about the profession. People tend to believe it’s not a lucrative profession to get into and she was naturally concerned. However, I had my dad’s support coupled with my uncles’ encouragement and with this, I was able to convince her.
How challenging has the journey been?
Choosing Art as a career was challenging due to the kind of mentality people have about Art in Nigeria. Also, the economic situation in Nigeria does not enable many art lovers and buyers to purchase artworks. Additionally, getting art materials especially quality ones are quite expensive.
Finally, getting featured in art exhibitions or holding yours as a young artist is the major challenge we face. Holding your exhibition in a renowned gallery can cost as much as N800,000 on an average. If you give your works to Art galleries to sell, most times the money is split 60/40. Sixty per cent for the gallery and 40 per cent for the artist. So, it is quite challenging for young artists.
You recently held an exhibition at the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos. Can you tell us about it?
The exhibition was titled, ‘Tales from Within’ and it was my fifth group exhibition. Myself with six other young artists came together to hold this exhibition. The exhibition featured about 30 artworks which were different forms and style of paintings and mixed media artworks. It had great TV coverage as it was covered by Channels TV, NTA and other media houses. It turned out to be a great exhibition as it not only generated sales, it also created opportunities to feature in other exhibitions and since then, I have featured in two other group exhibitions.
Your artworks have a distinct style. What’s your approach like?
Most of my paintings are done using the impressionistic style and I make it more unique by using vibrant and brilliant colors. I frequently inculcate African motifs and patterns. I chose the style because of my love for nature. There are different colors to be found in nature ranging from our environment to the vegetation, to the weather. So this inspires me to want to put all these into my paintings in context of color. Also, colors give emotions, so I try to let out my emotions through the use of colors which will be appealing to the viewer or the audience in order for them to relate with it.
What styles of painting do you explore?
I mostly do figure paintings which include portraits, genre scenes, history paintings but I also do a bit of mixed media, landscapes and other art explorations.
Is there an artwork you are most proud of? Why?
I must say each artwork is individual and unique but I have a few actually. One stands out for me in my growth as an artist. It’s called ‘The Rooster’s Call’. It’s a new exploration I am working on. It is a painting of a cock on a local mat weaving. The inspiration behind this work boils down to the ancient times when a cock was used as an alarm. The rooster’s call was used as a wakeup call in the mornings telling people to get ready for work. So I thought about this and related it to what is happening in the society today. We have a lot of people who are weak, asleep and have given in to economic situation of the country. I feel what they need is a wakeup call to spur them to action. This artwork brought a lot of attention, especially when I had a TV interview at the Delyork Creative Academy. A lot of people were astounded at how possible it is to make a painting on a local mat weaving. A lot of people thought the work was from a much older artist.
Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?
I will love to hold a PHD degree in visual arts and also establish an art support foundation to help student artists, upcoming artists and disabled artists. Also, I want to be able to feature in arts exhibitions in every continent.