Africa

Life in Nigeria, caught on canvas

Updated 1032 GMT (1832 HKT) July 9, 2014
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Nigerian artist Edosa Ogiugo is known for his artworks that capture everyday life in Nigeria with bold brushstrokes on large canvasses. Ogiugo, whose work has featured in auctions and galleries across the world, is based in Lagos, but CNN's Inside Africa caught up with him on a visit to London. (Pictured: "Ecstasy")

Interview by Phoebe Parke.
Courtesy Aabru art
Born in Ibadan, Nigeria's third-largest city, Ogiugo describes himself as an ordinary man, which is why he paints ordinary scenes of city life, marketplaces and people. "I found my own style early and developed it" he says. "I love to capture movement and see the strands of my brush registered in the paint; my style is different, just as God made all of us different: even with identical twins you can find differences if you look closely. The art is supposed to evoke certain feelings and it should talk to you, there must be life in my pieces."

"A lot of my international peers love my style, but there's still a lot to do to get to the premiership level. I have been to exhibitions in London and seen paintings by people like Lucian Freud, when I see things like that I think 'Oh Edosa you need to sit up.' I know I am just starting." (Pictured: "Three Hopeful Boys")
Courtesy Aabru art
"People inspire me. Everyday people," he says. "I love being amongst people, and noticing the way they talk and their gesticulations and actions. I store them in my computer up here (taps head) and draw from them later." (Pictured: "Virtuous Women") Courtesy Aabru art
"I get inspired by attending markets, not the ones here in London, they are a bit too organized," Ogiogu says. "It helps to see the movement, how people bargain, the colors. Materials inspire me as well; when I smell the turpentine I want to paint." (Pictured: "Sweet Mama") Courtesy Aabru art
"My parents, a tailor and a market woman, taught me and my seven siblings how to love what you have and not to look at others. The only time we were allowed to use others as a yard stick in our lives was in terms of education and good behavior." (Pictured: "Merry Hearts") Courtesy Aabru art
From working as a set painter during his school years, to national service, Ogiogu's experiences can be read in his paint strokes. "I did my first industrial attachment as an illustrator and a visualizer at the Nigerian Television Authority Benin," he says.

"I was asked to paint sets, mostly street scenes and houses. But the technology was not that developed. I had to paint a series of scenes for the camera to pan through to make an animation. We had to do some mysterious things to make certain illusions for the audience." (Pictured: "Time for Everything")
Courtesy Aabru art
Ogiugo is not shy about his love of horses and they have almost become his signature. "I paint horses because they are graceful, powerful and beautiful," he says. "When I was doing my mandatory national service in 1985 to '86, I saw a lot of Doba festivals -- where the king and his convoy parade in the streets. It's reminiscent of what used to happen in the days when the king acted as the commander in chief of his troop.

"The horses in the procession are draped in all sorts of rich decorations to the point that you can hardly see the form of the charging horse. But I paint the horses without all their fine drapery, so that I don't over-localize my subjects and so you can see the horse's shape. You will agree that every artist is allowed creative license. It has made the paintings internationally appealing." (Pictured: "The King's Men")
Courtesy Aabru art
"When I'm in my studio I play. Sometimes I think that if there were hidden cameras there, people would laugh and laugh. At times you feel like you've forgotten how to paint -- it can be frustrating. I don't flow with the regular time, I can work from 2pm to 5am and maybe sleep from 5am to 2pm and I enjoy listening to sweet music -- any genre as long as it's sweet." (Pictured: "Green Movement")
Courtesy Aabru art