By damekor, Aug 8 2014 11:38AM


By OFH, Feb 25 2014 04:45PM Published on Off The Hook

This week, quite by chance, I stumbled upon a lovely exhibition at the Nancy Victor Gallery in the west end of London. ‘Memories of a Child’ is Olatunde Oyinloye’s first solo show and is curated by Andrew Mashigo. Olatunde was born in Nigeria, the first in his family to enter into the arts, and middle child of five to parents who work in business.This self-taught artist comes from a background in electrical engineering and telecommunications. His exhibition certainly is inspiring and his work is beautiful. I was lucky to be able to arrange a time to meet with these interesting and charming men at the studio to find out more about Olatunde and his work. The three of us talked and laughed, reminiscing about childhood games, which are a big feature in this exhibition.

DK: Where did your love of art come from?

OO :I’d always loved art from childhood. My earliest memories before I even knew how to pronounce the word ‘draw’ were of my uncles who could draw. I always wanted them to draw a car or a man, so drawing has always been a fascination of mine. I enjoyed my art classes in primary school. I remember for an examination I did a drawing of a man climbing a tree. I was ill so I wasn't in school for a few days and when I came back everyone said that the teacher had said that my art work was really good. Somehow there was such a rave about this drawing and painting, it was a water colour work. When I came to the UK in 2005 I was still into technology and then in 2008 something interesting happened. I decided to do a sketch of my wife who was then my girlfriend. We both liked the outcome and from there I decide to get some art materials to start painting. In 2010 I bought my first canvas.

DK: How did you go about teaching yourself?

OO: I read a lot of books, watched videos, watched other peoples work and experimented, trying to see what I could create with oils and acrylics. In my telecoms work there was an art group that I was part of and we met regularly, twice every week, we also had studio sessions. Then I joined an art group in Newbury.

DK:When did you decide you really wanted to pursue being an artist as a career?

OO: As I was painting I was loving it more, but there was a conflict in my mind, would I do Technology or Art? I’ve now come to the point where, right now I’m focusing and developing the art side, although I still have a passion for technology.

DK:Which artists influence or inspire you?

OO: I like the impressionist artists. I like Claude Monet and portrait artist Ben Lustenhouwer, and lots more.

DK: Being an artist can be such a solitary process, do you have any other creative outlets?

OO: I love drama and dance. I sing in church every week. I had a group in Nigeria, I mostly lead the songs but we all sang. We wrote songs and sang at concerts and around town, but then we had to break up the group as everyone got on with life.

DK: How did this exhibition come about?

OO:The exhibition is here as a result of the observations I’ve made over the years about peoples' misconceptions of countries like Nigeria and other African countries. Most of the things people get to know about those countries are negative. I did a project where I had to do research on African children and the results were mostly negative. The results didn't represent the childhood I had or my friends had. There had to be some education, so people could see the bigger picture. From there I decided I needed to build this body of work. Whenever I see Nigeria on mainstream T.V. it’s usually negative and doesn't show the nice places. To fully understand a place you need to see a bigger picture. I also thought about a country like India. If you asked me what is a childhood like in India? What I would be able to tell you is what I've seen on t.v, in the films and the media. Lots of kids living in the not so developed areas of India, but I believe there are wealthy areas and so there must be wealthy kids. So my works address not just what goes on in Nigeria but also other developing countries.

DK:How did you both come to work together?

OO: Someone introduced Andrew to me, and we got talking and he happened to like my work. Andrew has been very encouraging and is one of my biggest fans. He sees something beautiful about my work.

AM: We had a quiet chat to see where he was coming from, then we had a series of meetings. I began to feel his passion for his kind of art. He felt he was ready to show and I said we can do some work together. Originally we thought of ‘Memories of a child of Africa’ as the title for the show, but rather than limit it, we changed it to ‘Memories of a Child’, that way people regardless of their back ground can relate to it.

I want to create a platform for emerging artists to show their works to international audiences: anything from developing creative peoples work, increasing brand awareness to curating an exhibition. I curated my last art exhibition 10 years ago in Knightsbridge then I decided on a slight deviation in my practice and work at Tate Modern in London, freelance with the Design Museum and collaborate with both The Met and MoMA in New York, in an Access capacity. That programme opens up visual art to the Blind and Visually impaired. Organising exhibitions is my personal passion.

DK: What response have you had to this exhibition?

OO:The responses have come in two forms. One from people who don’t really know what growing up in Africa is like, they seem to be getting more education on the side that people don’t see. And the other response has been from those who have had positive experiences like mine. On the night of the private view, someone from Botswana said ‘oh I know that game, but we have a different name for it’. Someone from Romania said ‘this exhibition is similar to my childhood which was very happy, but considering what’s going on right now in my country people must think I had a very bad childhood’.

You can purchase Olatunde’s work from £995 and the top price is £1,050. The print sizes are from A5 to A0 and prices depend on whether they are framed, on MDF, plain print and the sizes required.


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