I believe it runs in the family. The late Okpu Eze, sculptor and president of the Society of Nigerian Arts in the 1990s, was my uncle. My father does art too, though not professionally, same with my mum. As a child, I scrawled on walls and cut up our sofa and got spanked. So I decided to explore my talent, creating things. I grew up and decided to pursue art professionally. Today, when I scrawl things and cut up stuff, I get paid for it instead. I think that’s fascinating. So why not?
I was trained at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (1995-2001). I read Fine and Applied Arts; and majored in Painting.
I used any medium, anything that catches my fancy. I use acrylic in my paintings and then found materials in my installations and other experimental forms of art.
I’m influenced by anything that appeals to me. I’m influenced by other artists too, whether nigerian or overseas. I’m also very interested in Architecture and Design, as well as the fashion industry.
I’m inspired to create things that will speak beyond my mouth. Any piece of art that can stand on its own, that speaks for itself without me saying so much. Anything that tends to be simple yet deep. I’m also inspired by everything Imust have encountered in the last 30-something years.
Best work so far
I don’t have a best work. Every work of art I create is unique, peculiar to itself. It’s like asking a father to choose which of his children is best — it’s as difficult as that.
Least satisfying work
Any work that is still in my studio, that the owner has not collected. I just keep criticising myself. I keep adding and removing stuff, touching and retouching until someone comes and takes the piece away.
All the points I’ve reached in my career so far have had their own interesting points. So, I can’t really pick any right now. I’ve had some thrilling moments; i just can’t pin any down.
Favourite artist living or dead
I have a lot of good artists I admire, but I don’t really think I have a favourite. I admire people like Kandisky, El Anatsui and my late uncle, Okpu Eze. There’s an architect I also admire, Savin Couelle; he is a great architect, his works are ethereal and organic. I’m also a fan of any classical and experimental architecture.
My ambition is to see our contemporary life and culture borrow from our past/traditional culture. If you look around today, so many of our buildings are modern and europeanised — oyinbo stuff. Go to any european city, you will see that they value architecture from different periods in history, whether it’s neo-classical, victorian or gothic. But here in Nigeria, we rarely see our traditional mud-hut incorporated into modern life. I would like a reflection of our traditional culture in our general way of life — speaking, dressing and so on. So the little I can do to make this possible, that is my ambition.