By Omiko Awa
Stephen Oni Olamide is a Nigerian artist who uses experimental art to impact lives and change people’s perception of themselves and their communities.
With artistic rendition greatly influenced by African themes and philosophies, the Obafemi Awolowo University-trained fine artist during the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) collaborated with artists from Bangladesh, India, U.S.A, Turkey, and Nepal to exhibit his works and give hope to people giving with the coronavirus across the world.
Expressing his thoughts on the online exhibition, the United Nations (MDGs) Art poster Competition prize winner disclosed that the exhibition gave him the opportunity to showcase his works among international artists, bringing Nigeria’s rich artworks to the front burner.
He said: “Though this is not my first time of exhibiting outside Nigeria, the ‘ARTihty’ exhibition gave me the privilege to showcase new works, especially those whose themes are on the African philosophy.
“In 2010, I was selected among 30 artists for the Caterina de Medici painting competition/ exhibition together with the likes of Dr. Kunle Adeyemi, Bimbo Adenugba, Dotun Alabi for Lagos Black Heritage Festival art event held at Nike Gallery. And in 2015, I was invited by Bricklane Gallery, London, for exhibition; while in 2018, I exhibited with some selected Nigerian artists at the UNESCO Headquarters in France to celebrate African Week.
“April this year, Bougie Art Gallery, Canada, invited me for Painting Colour group exhibition and in May, Artworks Gallery, U.S.A, for, May 1, Mother Celebration International Group exhibition, while the African Covid-19 Virtual Art exhibition held in June. Despite this, my creative renditions exceeded mere aestheticism in the ARTihty exhibition; it reflected African philosophical themes, styles, and mediums,” he said.
According to him, his works provide capacity for positive changes in humanity and as art therapy. It enables him to pass on relief to people having different health challenges, as serving as avenue for people who have little or no knowledge of African art and philosophies to be connected to it.
Having had his first solo show on 2006 Children’s Day Celebration Art Exhibition held at Osogbo Sports Stadium, Osun State, Olamide revealed that ARTihty Art exhibition was open for everyone across the globe to participate and showcase either their personal works or that of their country, adding that he merely forwarded a few of his works and he was invited to participate.
According to him, he was the only Nigerian on the show, stressing that there could be the possibility that some others also entered for the exhibition, but was not invited.
He stressed that he used the opportunity to showcase not only Nigerian art, but also African art as a whole.
He noted that, as a visual communicator, he was able to express deep thoughts for peace in the world, good human virtues, affection, and celebration mood through his works.
Olamide revealed that he conceptualises African themes, using brilliant colours suitable for art therapy and mixed media painting techniques to disseminate his local and global messages.
Cutting his teeth in the studio of Omidiran Gbolade before entering the university, Olamide revealed that as a studio experimental artist, he explored different painting media, including oil, acrylic, especially the mixed media painting technique to express his thoughts on issues.
Commenting on the Nigerian art and artists, the Crimson Studio/Gallery head said there is a great prospect for the Nigerian art and artists at the international scene, adding that the Nigerian art is different from what is available at the global art scene because it is garnished with amazing African cultural philosophy and comes in varieties of media that no art lover would ignore.
Belonging to professional societies, including the Society of Nigerian Artists, Artzero, Nymdis, and Araism Movement, Olamide disclosed that he had earlier this year participated in three online exhibitions from Canada, the U.S.A and the African Covid-19 Virtual exhibition before featuring in the ARTihty show said the scene may because of the COVID-19 pandemic be tough for artists to exhibit and sell their works, that artist should not for that loose hope. He called on those who have good works to show to the world to make use of the online platforms to do that.