Dennis Osadebe is a Nigerian artist whose is fantastic. His paintings are so Western and contemporary, yet fresh, fun and really inventive. When I first saw his work online http://www.dennisosadebe.com/work/, I knew that I had to chat with him. I’m very glad that I did because we had a very cool conversation. Here we go …
“… I would love my art hanging on every wall around the world ... Every artist wants that … My aim is to make my art works accessible to everyone of every class and not separate anyone with art …”
MICHAEL: Hello Dennis, You know, when I look at your work, I get such a sense of joy and fun. Your paintings are pop, hip, contemporary and sophisticated. They're also digital and done by hand. How do you actually work? What's your process?
DENNIS: Hi Michael! Genius take on my art. I love lines and colours. They are important elements of my art. There are different textures to my process because of the type of art I do which involves me working digitally and when they are produced, bringing them to life using other mediums like acrylics.
When I work, I always start with an idea in mind maybe I have a particular figure, shape, one or two colour arrangements in mind, so I always start by putting down that idea first and then allowing it to blossom. That is, giving way for my subconscious to guide me for the rest of the piece. These ideas however do not always come when I’m trying to think them up, they happen when I’m doing something random like trying to fix a cup of coffee or most times when I’m inspired.
I have to be very inspired to make a piece and I draw inspiration from things like the energy from a place, a random conversation, good music, photography, women of course, LOL ... dopeness in general. I LOVE dopeness. After I’ve lined the whole work out, I start to fill in the colours. My choice of colour I would say is “Neo.” That is modern, bright, expressive, provocative and more like in your face. It is in-sync with my whole idea of what I grew up to learn about what art is.
For me it is supposed to be fun, free and the artist is supposed to be comfortable in his own skin and you know try new things. Sometimes it’s hard for me to know when the piece is complete and when I feel this way, I allow it to run into a series until I believe the story is finished.
MICHAEL: It's so rare that I hear artists say they want their work to be fun and free. Most people in the art world see "fun" and "free" as not having much substance and they shouldn't take it very seriously. What do you think about this?
DENNIS: Don’t get me wrong when I say “fun and free.” I mean, the artist should be free to express himself however he feels and that is how he can connect with the people. I believe as an artist my duty is to express my inner self rather than narrowly conform to a particular style. Art has opened me up to a new way of expressing myself, how I feel, the ideas that I have, the things I want to be different and I do all these expressions of my own inner life in an abstract form. That being said, I like art with meaning, but it becomes boring when the artist limits himself to being polemic because he always has to be right.
MICHAEL: Color plays a huge role in your work. What does color mean to you? How does it guide your process?
DENNIS: Colour is a very important aspect of my art. To me, colour is a tool that has the ability to influence the soul. It is an outcome of association which I believe acts as a powerful tool when the artist is trying to communicate a message. For example, red stimulates and excites the heart. However, there are various variations of red that create different sensations. For example, a shade of red will cause pain or disgust. I try to use my colours to speak to my generation because I'm from the 90's. I grew up around colours from cable television, you know those test cards. This is what influences my art ‘til this day. That is all I gathered from my formative years, the culture which I refer to as “Neo Culture.” This is the world that’s becoming more of a global village. This is probably why my works have that modern feel I guess.
MICHAEL: Very interesting. I think you are right. How do you actually apply colors?
DENNIS: I mix palettes every day. I have over a hundred mixtures of palettes where I just put colours together. When I have two colours that go well together, I'm like, “Yes, create a new palette and throw it in! And over time, the collection has increased. Sometimes when I am done with putting down my ideas, I refer back to these palettes to see if any of them harmonize with the idea that I have. Most times, they don't and when this happens, there is usually one or two colours that I have in mind that I want in the painting, so I put them down and then go ahead from there to add more to get to the needed destination subconsciously.
MICHAEL: Your human figures are also more like silhouettes rather than actual people. Perhaps they are suggestions of humanity, but not people you actually know? Hmm. Only you know the answer to that. What's your thought about the figures in your work?
DENNIS: Haha! That is an interesting question. Maybe? I guess we will never know! I believe the whole point of painting is that it has the potential to be humanistic, so expressive. For me, my paintings have a momentum behind them, a moral fury and a resistance. However, to some other people, it is a different impression my work leaves with them and that is also very welcome. I try to make art that everybody can relate to, based on rhythm or simply a technical drawing build. You can also relate to it like music. I'm not interested in making them complicated. I like my paintings to retain a sense of the body and the feeling of a physical relationship with the world. This is why I believe people relate to my work naturally.
MICHAEL: Pop Art has always been associated with mass production. Do you ever see this possibility for your work ... mass production with you overseeing the process?
DENNIS: Of course, I would love my art hanging on every wall around the world. Every artist wants that and the Internet has provided a platform for that to be possible. All my pieces have an original and then prints too because an art collector might want the original but that young cool college kid who can't afford it, would be good with a print on whatever medium it is, I believe. My aim is to make my art works accessible to everyone of every class and not separate anyone with art.
I would love to oversee the production process because I know my buyers expect the highest quality of work when they order it, but then again, there are few resources. For now, I focus on producing where I'm based. And with the help of the internet, there are some dope art sites out there that provide that service and make life easier for us young and up and coming artists.
MICHAEL: Where are you exactly? London? What's the art scene like where you are?
DENNIS: I'm based in Lagos, Nigeria now and the art scene is quite interesting here with so many young talented Nigerian artists. It's exciting to see.
MICHAEL: And I must say that it has been exciting to chat with you Dennis. I love your work and I’m wishing much future success for you!
Check out Dennis Osadebe at http://www.dennisosadebe.com/work/.