Francis Osherenoya is a multi-disciplinary artist who’s able to express his ideas and impressions through different mediums. In this interview with Daily Trust on Sunday, Oshoreonya speaks on what his art means to him, amongst other things.
Was being an artist always your preferred career path or did you find it along the way?
Yes, becoming an artist has always been my dream career choice; it all started when I was 7 or 8 years old. I usually draw on papers and wall of my home proudly to show my neighbours how talented I was in drawing. Only one of them was interested in my craft and that was the first time in my life I heard the word artist from a man we called Alhaji. He kept echoing the word every afternoon when I come back from school. It became more interesting and pleasing at school when my mates always wanted me to represent the class in any drawing exercise. I felt like a king. This continued till my secondary school, then I opted to study Fine arts at the higher institution.
Care to share your background and how it has impacted on your work?
About my background, I am a multi-disciplinary artist who specializes in painting and photography. I am 28 years old and I had my first degree in Painting in the year 2017. I have been practicing full time as a studio artist till date and my works have been exhibited locally and internationally. To this, I have participated in various art residences, workshops and currently, I’m having a workshop with the German Nigeria Corporation. I possess a free mind that allows me to express myself with different techniques and media.
Presently, painting is a major focus compared to photography creation because it allows me to explore freely using various materials like charcoal, fabric, pastel, and other colour pigment with my reach to tell stories.
Human emotions and existence are what I am passionate about and I feel my paintings is a better visual representation to document them. It is an endless story, pleasant or unpleasant, I have been producing in series to examine the theme on emotional and societal lifestyles of the society or rather individual. And there are many more yet to be produced in due time. As an artist, I firmly believe art is a voice that commune with the innermost feeling, giving a clear impression of how reality operates or should operate. It (art) has the power to influence, which is enough to show its impact on anyone connecting to it.
What’s your preferred medium and why are you comfortable with it?
My preferred medium is a combination of media—the usage of acrylic, spray paint, pastel, and charcoal on paper or canvas surface.
They are very easy to handle and it creates a very unique effect on my paintings; visually pleasing to the eyes.
How important is education in art?
I am happy that the integration of art education is taken seriously in schools and other institutions. This will help people to know the value art has to offer in the society. Art is beyond the aesthetics people traditionally know it to be. It has advanced in different ways to help promote cultural, social and economic values. It is so obvious that I can highlight a few from many. The integration of art education produces skilled individuals with the art experience to boost their critical thinking pattern in connecting with their culture as well as the wider world in creating contents that discusses disturbing issues, there by finding solutions to them. Through art education, one would be able to derive a career path that helps to generate revenue for his livelihood. It is no longer news that art is therapeutic and many hospitals, especially the psychiatric health centres, have adopted it as an exercise to improve the healing process of mentally challenged patients. Even this exercise is also carried out at the disabled health centres. Art education is essential and should not be ignored because it has a major role to play to better our skills in social interaction and emotional regulation in solving problems using different ways of approach in the world we live in.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Basically, I get inspiration from different elements in my environment. It could be nature, interaction with people, books, and events.
Does your work seek to address any societal issues or is it all about emotions?
Like I earlier stated, I’m interested in human existence and emotions. My artistic journey isn’t limited to just painting on canvas, it’s beyond that and my perception about my environment. I interact with people to know their opinion about certain societal topics and unknown to some, I document them as references to visualize later. Currently, I’m working on issues of immigration by Nigerian youths and how it emotionally affects their livelihood. This is a societal issue among many other themes I’ve been working on.
What time of the day will you say is best to get your work done?
There is no best time to work. It depends on individual choices. I can only say majority of artists prefer working in a serene environment devoid of third party so that they can communicate effectively with their creation and work better.
At what point do you think an artist can call themselves successful?
There are many ways to this. Personally, it has to do with a process, discovering who you are as a brand. When one is known for something, how valuable, original, and impactful his products are to the society, he or she will be sort after. There, the good fortunes are inevitable.
What will you consider essential to your work?
The visual representation of my subject is very key to me because it’s what my viewers can relate and communicate with. Creating my subject takes time which I often do on a sketch pad to serve as a foundation and guide to the finished work executed on the painting canvas.
Secondly, the choice of materials is also important because I want my body of works to stand the taste of time. If you don’t use good materials, your work begins to age, and it doesn’t tell well of your profile. It reduces your value no matter how beautiful or interesting the body of works appears.
How do you manage working on a multiple project?
It is a project, so I create a plan for myself and I’m very intentional with producing my works as planned. Developing a goal is key, I get a diary and schedule my plans and give it a time frame to fulfill them. Writing down my goals helps me to be focused. It positions me in an organized manner and I find myself deliberately finishing a task and going on to finish the other. The amazing part is when I conclude with a piece and discover how beautiful and finished it is, I’m filled with joy and propelled to produce more. I’m passionate about this call, so it keeps me going.
Have there been instances you couldn’t meet up a target?
We are humans and sometimes despite our efforts, we miss a target due to certain circumstances, or our inability to meet up. I have missed some which I’m not happy about.
How do you feel when people appreciate your work?
I feel honored and fulfilled to see people appreciate my body of works. It shows that the aim of producing and touching lives was fulfilled. It is evidence to show the originality of my work – creating a connection that relates with human mind.
How do you respond to criticism?
Personally, I see criticism as a way to help an artist grow positively. Artists must always face critics virtually or physically but one must be care of different opinion people have about their works. There are opinions meant to demoralize the artist and his growth, I will advise one to pay no attention and to discard it. One must be able to define a constructive criticism and humbly accept it. It is aimed to guide and direct an artist on a successful career path.
Which of your works will you consider a favourite and why?
Personally, I don’t think I have a favorite work because there is more to be produced. I can only say I find the collection of my works in series interesting and precious to me. It can only be favourite to my collectors. I love all my works despite the mood or gesture it possesses.
What’s the longest you’ve worked on a project?
Commissioned project which is a two-sided 10ft in height and 20ft in length wall mural took me two months. A personal project took me 5-6 months and that should be the longest I can think of.
What do you do when you’re low on creativity?
Creative blocks come periodically and can be frustrating. My remedy to this is to take a break from work and step out to engage in social interaction. This helps to relief myself from mental stress. Through that means I experience new things to talk about and deliberate on. I also engage with movies, music, books, and social media to see stories that interest me as a person and things begin falling into pleasantness. That’s how I fight it.
If you weren’t an artist, what other career will you explore?
Sports, I’m very good at playing soccer and volleyball. Becoming a football star would be a second career path. I had that opportunity during my time at the higher institution to play in the NPL Nigeria premier league, but I declined because I wanted to study art.