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Talking to the hyper-realist artist Ken Nwadiogbu

July 29, 2018

ArtsDrawing | by Candid Magazine


Ken Nwadiogbu is an artist, born in 1994 in Nigeria, who creates stunning hyper-realistic drawings that demand a second look. Full of references to Nwadiogbu’s African heritage, as well as mind-blowing detail, his work has been exhibited in Lagos, London and New York. Candid Magazine sat down with him to find out more about his background, and work.

Ken Nwadiogbu

Candid Magazine: How did you discover you wanted to be an artist?

Ken Nwadiogbu: I did not find art, art found me. Earlier in my life, I used to envision myself as an Engineer – well, most kids in Nigeria want to be Engineers because of the monetary gains – so I got into the University to study Civil Engineering. During my study there, I stumbled upon an artist who was creating a portrait of the Dean of my university at that time. I couldn’t resist the urge to go back and read about art. Research turned to addiction, addiction turned to love.

HRM Pere of Isaba Kingdom, 2018, by Ken Nwadiogbu

CM: What is the infrastructure like for art students in Africa?

KN: Well, I never studied art, or had any formal training in visual art, so I’m a bit rusty on this subject. Though, I can tell you what the infrastructure is like for artist without any formal training in visual arts in Africa; and it’s a pretty rusty infrastructure indeed. Some galleries around Africa have started to open up to possibilities that being formally trained in visual art in an institution isn’t the only criteria for practicing art or for growing into a professional artist. Hence, artists of my calibre are given the opportunity to showcase and still make a living from visual art while some leave Africa to find a better system that can accept them as professional artists.

 CM: Why did you decide to work as a hyper-realist artist?

KN: Hyperrealism was the reason I got drawn to art. It looked completely impossible and I loved the challenge. From trying to understand how, you start to find why, and then it speaks to you in ways that is unique. It’s new here in Africa, and it’s a language of art that is very amusing to the world- if done right. So yes, it was my first love as an artist and as it grew in me, I saw more ways to express myself and change the world, one art at a time.

Witnesses, 2016, by Ken Nwadiogbu

CM: Where does the inspiration for your imagery come from?

KN: I’m always inspired by the society. I believe the society speaks, and we all listen. It’s my job not just to listen, but to reply the society. This voice inspires my art- which evaluates, interrogates and challenges socio-political structures and issues within the society. In my reply to this society, I am able to inspire one or two people to also re-evaluate their socio-political structures as we know it. The desire to change my society and the way people think is what drives me to create art every day.

CM: How long does a piece take to draw?

KN: It differs. A large canvas work can take a month, while a small paper work can take a week. Depends on the subject matter and the innovative ideas I accumulate during the creation of a piece.

CM: What’s an average day like in your studio?

KN: I work at night, always. You could tag me NOCTURNAL. I sleep or have my meetings or studio visits in the day. And at night, I’m always active to work; because it’s always quiet, the music from my playlist wrafts round the studio and I get lost in my creative process.

Lost Consciousness IV, 2017 by Ken Nwadiogbu

CM: What’s your proudest achievement to date?

KN: I think every show, interview and exposure I’ve had have always been my proudest moments.

CM: What would you like your future to hold?

KN: I just want the world to listen. I want the world to see what I create. To showcase my works around the world. To speak, to change, and to learn.

 Words by Toby Mellors

visiti Ken Nwadiogbu’s website here