Ken Nwadiogbu: The Art Magnifier
Ken Nwadiogbu is a 23-year-old hyperrealist who brings his paintings to life using just a pencil and a paper. His ability to create paintings that look like photographs has put him in the spotlight of the art scene.
Due to the quality of his art, one would assume that he attended an art school. However, Nwadiogbu is a graduate of Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Lagos and prides himself on being self-taught.
Guardian Life caught up with him to discuss his art.
At what point in your life can you say you fell totally in love with the Arts?
It was in my Diploma level, studying Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Lagos (Unilag). Sketching on my exercise books with a pencil at that time was the extent of my artistry. Until I met a guy around my department sketching a Dean in Unilag at that time. A kind of interest was built in me to a level that I began to make research. Research turned to obsession and obsession turned to love.
There is the African parent syndrome where art courses are valued less than science courses. How welcoming were your parents towards your career shift?
There’s always the African parent syndrome. But I’ll emphasise this towards the father angle. Mothers have a way of supporting, even when they feel it might fail. That was exactly my case. But now, I’m sure my parents are fine.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from the world. The society speaks, every time. It’s left for us to listen–not just listen, but also to reply. I reply.
What are the challenges you have faced trying to break out in the art world?
Most already-established artists will discourage you from doing what you do. Some will say you’re not an artist since you never went to an art institution. The art world is a pretty small place in Nigeria, so to get into such small space and get a room for yourself is almost impossible. Also, the cost of producing a piece, both time and monetary value. Art is a jealous career. It sucks and takes all your time away. And it’s pretty expensive to create, especially my type of art.
Are there issues that your art addresses?
Yes. My art talks about African cultures, gender equality and black power. My art’s course is to pursue freedom, of expression and belief, and to promote the voices of those rather unheard.
Are you working on any project art enthusiasts should look forward to?
The King’s Diary. This is an ongoing series that attempts to present African women in the light of kings, decorated in the regalia of traditional rulers. The motive is to encourage the acceptance and respect ascribed to the kings of Africa – and any realm, as a matter of fact- as a right of the African female. This new light will help see the girl-child in Africa as privileged as the sons, and not doomed to the woes of forbidden education and early marriage against her will.