There is a French slogan “L’art Pour L’art” [translated in English means ‘Art for Art’s sake] which expresses a philosophy that the intrinsic value of art, and the only “true” art, is divorced from any moralistic or utilitarian function. However, my personal philosophy on art is ‘Art for a Reason’, which means that the gift you have been given was given to you for a reason, and it is of utmost importance that you fulfill/express that gift purposefully.
So whether it is singing, dancing, writing, painting… or whatever else you find that you are born to do, you need to do it purposefully. You must have a voice through the music you create, through the words you write, but quite sadly, a lot of talented people do not understand this; they create music, splash paint, and put down words that have no deep meaning, no positive impact, and provoke no thought or conversations whatsoever, failing to realize that they have so much power to influence and impact lives through their art.
- Jelili Atiku
Though my list is in no particular order, Jelili Atiku, the Sculpture and installation Artist had to come first as I have such a deep respect for him. For me, his work totally embodies my ‘Art for a Reason’ philosophy. Atiku is like an Art Activist. He uses his art to shed light on very serious issues and in fact his work ‘ARAGAMAGO Will Rid This Land of Terrorism’, ruffled feathers and got him arrested.
In an interview he explained his art thus “I use performance art to sensitise the people about the problems we have in Nigeria. I use my body as an instrument in my art. I do performance because it has to be done.”
The 48 year old internationally acclaimed artist has performed his art in countless locations including South Africa, Dublin, South Korea, Japan, Canada, Norway, and Italy. He’s won numerous awards and is a Prince Claus Laureate.
Peju is a Painter, Architect, Writer, Sculptor, and mixed media Artist whose work I think is sheer brilliance! She is regarded as the highest selling female artist of contemporary art from Nigeria, and what I love about her is that apart from the fact that her work is always so visually appealing, it is also thought-provoking. Like I mentioned earlier, I love
talented people who use their voice purposefully, and Alatishe once said during her exhibition “I have a loud voice and I use it. My art gives me the freedom to reflect society’s maladies. I must be brutally honest in hopes to shake and shock the viewer.”
She also said during an interview “… When you’re producing based on what people like… market demands, art becomes a craft, not an art form anymore… and Art is my passion, I’m not going to lose that”. You can totally see this in her work. Laudable!
- Titilope Sonuga: When it comes to poetry, Canadian-Nigerian poet Titilope does it for me anyday! Her words are always so simple yet with depth, and her delivery, faultless; No drama, so calm, so effortless and so graceful. I find her work spectacular, and it is near impossible to watch her perform and not be captivated, whether it’s on stage in real life or as an actor in GTBank’s NdaniTv web series ‘Gidi up’ where she plays the character ‘Eki’. She also has an inspiring story about her relocation to Canada in her teenage years, and how finding poetry helped her navigate through that challenging period and also gave her a voice. I recently wrote about this for the Art and Review section of This Day Newspaper. You can read it online. It’s titled ‘FINDING SELF’
- SPAN: For Art organisations, I totally love what SPAN [Society for the Performing Arts in Nigeria] does. They are an NGO set up about 11 years ago with the aim of creating a world-class standard for performing arts education and expression in Nigeria. They offer opportunities in dance, music, theatre and visual arts to young talented Nigerians, by inspiring, training, and empowering them, so that their creativity is unleashed. SPAN is really a community, a haven for the unseen to be seen; A Society, enabling artists soar beyond their wildest dreams.
Kudos to Sarah Boulos, [The Chairperson]! She’s such a lover of God and people and I’ve seen her invest so much in her team, it’s unbelievable. It also beats me how we have a ‘Society for the Performing Arts in Nigeria’ and it is owned and run by an ‘Oyinbo’. It just shows how passionate she is about people and Nigeria.
- TY Bello
For photography, I love EVERYTHING about Ty Bello; from her rich full fro, to her simplicity and style, her bubbly nature, her craft, down
to even how she’s one of those celebs who are somehow never in the news for the wrong reasons. If you follow her on instagram, it’ll be impossible not to fall in love with her [and her work]. Ty Bello has the midas touch. There’s a certain quality to her photographs and every client whose photos she’s taken, always came out looking stunning and transformed. I don’t know how she does it. Also, I love that she uses her photographs to tell powerful stories; I personally love her recent project on the young Nigerian soldiers, and also how the Olajumoke ‘Bread seller’ story went viral and a life was greatly impacted.
Blessing Azubike (popularly known as Bee Azubike) is passionate about God, and art in all its forms. She specialises in Communications, Art, Media and Productions. Azubike has for almost a decade worked as Media Manager, Writer, PR Consultant, and team member on various projects including SPAN Festival, Money Matters with Nimi, The Anilingo Series, Taruwa Festival, and multiple stage plays, from the stage adaptation of Bobo Omotayo’s book ‘London Life, Lagos Living’ to the phenomenal 5man play ‘Colour Me Man’ by The Naked Convos and Gbagyichild Entertainment. She is currently Creative Director of TARUWA, Art writer for This Day and Chief ARTvocate for the fast growing brand ‘ART for a Reason’.
Twitter: @artforareason / @chief_artvocate
Instagram: @artforareason / @chief_artvocate