Osa7 celebrates Nigerian spirit, diversity in Art of Blending
Nigerian urban artist, Osadolor Okunkpolor, may not ring a bell in many ears but in the Nigerian art space, Osa Seven, as he is popularly known, is breaking down barriers with his multi-disciplinary art, specifically graffiti.
Born and bred in FESTAC Town, Lagos, this contemporary artist has decorated a dedicated limited edition of Hennessy Very Special honouring the Nigerian spirit of community and diversity. The limited edition, featuring a carafe decorated by the artist, marks the 10th anniversary of Hennessy Artistry in Nigeria.
A trailblazing initiative rooted in culture and heritage, the global concept centres on musical happenings combining a bold sound, visual innovation, and taste experiences that celebrate the brand.
Osa Seven has always made his personal culture a signature of his artwork, from his earliest illustrations to the graffiti monumental urban art that won him broader recognition. A pioneer in multi-disciplinary collaborations, notably between visual art, music and dance, he is committed to setting an example on a community level and affecting positive change through self-expression.
“Today I am focusing on opening doors,” Osa Seven told The Guardian. “Creating opportunity seems like the right thing to do. When I was younger, lots of people just didn’t believe that a graffiti artist could amount to anything. You have to put in a lot of work and believe in yourself. It takes consistence and persistence. We paint words that will inspire children, like joy, happiness, collaboration, and peace, words that will take hold in their subconscious.
“In the past, brands used to turn us down because graffiti was looked upon as an illegal thing, as vandalism, but now if you go to many places, you’ll see that many brands are making use of it as well as murals on their wall space. When I see it, I smile within me because I remember some years back, nobody wanted to do it but now, most brands are tilting heavily towards it especially in the urban space and for me, this is a big deal.
“Recently, the Lagos State government commissioned me to create a 110 foot graffiti by Law school and this was a big deal. Just last week, I painted the side of one of the big commercial banks, a 70 feet mural in the air. A lot of people used to think it cannot be done but we are showing it can be done and we are inspiring many others everyday.”
A celebration of Nigeria’s rich diversity, this limited edition combines the artist’s vibrant personal aesthetic with the cultural values the duo share, a love of heritage, local craftsmanship and various forms of contemporary art.
Osa Seven, an OND holder from Yabatech, added that he has been on several campaigns in the last couple of years. “For me, it is a door opener for artistes and a big deal for my career as an artiste as well. In terms of details of elements on the bottle, I used a whole lot of vibrant, bright colours, which describe Nigerians as a people. We are a vibrant, resilient people and these colours describe who we are. We started this process since December last year and I can’t wait for Nigerians to start engaging with it.”
Inspired by the people he meets, the places he travels, new sights, sounds and tastes, Osa Seven strives to engage his public on many different levels.
Collaborating with the brand, he notes, will help him to elevate a message of community. “That an international brand like Hennessy would participate in a project with an artist from Festac is inspirational, it will make people believe in themselves, want to give more energy to their career or their craft. It’s a big win for artists of all kinds.”
Osa Seven consistently draws on his Benin roots for inspiration, incorporating elements of its culture and history into his own work.
Osa Seven is a founder of Socially Africa’s Art for a Cause programme, a volunteer-based organisation dedicated to community development. “Art for a Cause” is an inclusive artistic initiative designed to give to back to the community through renovating public schools, educational art, and inspiring students to engage with education through art.
Since its founding in 2016, the programme has contributed to improving more than a dozen schools, reaching more than 8,000 children.
Vibrant colour is the primary element of this edition, a means for him to express his perception of Nigerian culture and community. A graffiti style informed by Pop Art blends oblique shapes and patterns, reprising elements from Hennessy’s heritage including the House’s logo, the broad axe.
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