The lockdown measure by state and federal governments has seen many Nigerians lamenting with some resorting to protests. They are used to working outside their homes and for their daily bread.
However, the lockdown hasn’t affected David Olatoye. The artist is used to life staying in his studio, at Mokola, Ibadan, Oyo State.
Olatoye is an up-and-coming artist who likes painting humanity and day-to-day activities. He is comfortable staying indoors. Little wonder, the current lockdown isn’t new to him.
He is given to staying indoors for two weeks or more before coming out on weekends to interact with friends and family members.
Olatoye was one of the six artists selected for the Rele Young Contemporary Residency early in the year. The bootcamp accommodated 23 artistes in Ekiti State, and it was a life changing moment for the artists. After the bootcamp, six artists were selected and had mentorship programmes in relation to their career. The artist usually puts his emotions into his works as he was able to produce “Dear Diary” which was exhibited during the 2020 edition of Rele Young Contemporaries exhibition.
He says “Dear Diary” is about putting his emotions and feelings in the form of images and words, with the fact that he grew up reading more images and words which influenced his way of viewing things. It was like writing and trying to let people see what was going on in his world through images which speak more to him, while adding a few words was a way of expressing himself.
He says his works focus on humanity which brings back memory of the day-to-day activities of people which relates to the situation of things in relation with the pandemic. This lockdown has inspired him to create interesting works.
The only thing he would miss during the lockdown, except for shows and exhibitions to attend, include seeing new faces and meeting likeminds. “I can say I’ve been truly inspired, though it has put many things on hold. When all is at rest again, I plan to have a group exhibition and unveil new works too,” he said.
“I believe it just created another space of rethinking and making use of the knowledge of our age — I mean, the 21st century knowledge which are the technologies and everything electronics we control.”
Olatoye says the lockdown doesn’t hinder creativity; rather, it avails him the time to reflect and think on issues. “It’s not that we’re stopped from doing anything; it’s just a lockdown; we can be more effective in whatever we’re doing and still be more relevant.”
The lockdown has made him do more research and discovered Ben Enwonwu’s work. “Sefi”, a princess, is related to the Ebira people in central Kogi State.
The artist hopes to inspire many people to have more interests in the arts. Consistency is key for him, and he believes to keep up with making great artworks.
Maybe duanting, nevertheless, it’s worth every ounce of skill and stroke of brush. “To bring art closer to people is to continue painting without hiding anything. He believes people who have the love of art get more connected to it, in a sense, bringing art closer to the people.”
He wants artworks to be made affordable to Nigerians to make people to buy, which, in turn, will help up-and-coming artists to survive. Although the Nigerian art industry is growing, it is imperative to connect with enthusiasts and aficionados. Some of his works are commissioned, and they are affordable for people to buy and appreciate the artworks.