#NIGERIAN URBAN STREET ARTIST SERIES: MEET THE KPURI ART MASTERMIND

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Ubiomo is one of the young creatives in the Nigeria whose work would awe you. His style of art involves  integrating  patterns, lines, geometric shapes and symbols into one piece. 

Hello, please introduce yourself?

My name is Ubiomo Chinedu Ogheneroh “Kpuri”from Otor-Iyede, Isoko North in Delta State of Nigeria. Am a graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. I am a Digital painter, a 2D illustrator, Graphics Designer and a Writer. I am a voracious reader.

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Can you recall when you first realized your interest in art?

Sure, I started drawing when I was in primary school. Whenever the teacher is out of sight or during free periods, I would use my rough exercise books turned sketch pads to draw horrible figures, my happy friends will gather around cheering, hailing and praising. Gradually, it became my thing.  While others are out playing during the break period, I will stay behind drawing and shading figures slightly close to human figures. I turned Picasso of the class even with those terrifying drawings.

Were you born a creative or you nurtured it?

I was born an artist, no doubt about it, a legitimate son of the art kingdom. I see the power to create as part of my inheritance, better etched I will say “for this I was created” like a priest taking a pledge, I will say it is more like a calling.

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How would you describe your style of creativity?

I tag my style of creativity “Kpuri”, it’s a word which simply mean abstraction, which involve the integration of patterns, lines, geometric shapes and symbols in creating a work of art.

What inspires your creativity?

First and foremost my inspiration comes from God Almighty who alone is the Source of Inspiration. Secondly, I get inspirations from Uli symbols. Uli is the name given to the traditional designs drawn by the Igbos, a tribe that largely dominates the Southeastern region of Nigeria.  The art school in Nsukka is known for this and since I studied there, I believe the style of art influenced my creativity. I usually incorporate the symbols into my art.

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When you create, do you always have a specific message to convey for each creation?

Yes, I do. The purposes of art is to express or communicate emotions and ideas. When I do create, what comes to my mind is what message am I passing to the audience? What is the aim/goal of the art? I do have a message to communicate. An artist I believe is always in a state of mind whenever he/she is working and the work of art conveys a message of either happiness, sadness, hope, nostalgia, love, peace and so on. There is always a message buried in a work of art.

What are the challenges you have faced/still face as an Artist in Nigeria?

Reaching out to the right audience is the major challenge I face as an artist in Nigeria. People who will comprehend the message, understand the value, and adore a work or art. I have come to see that if you lack the right audience, your art lacks value and meaning. It is merely viewed as an object either labeled “fine” or “ugly”.  This has made me question myself daily, how do I get the right audience to showcase my creativity?

Another challenge I face is price tagging of an artwork in Nigeria. I have encountered series of heartbreaking occasion where i could not sell my work because of the prize people offer. Some will say “do a cheap artwork for me”, my reply is always “there is nothing like a cheap or expensive artwork”.

Another challenge as an artist in Nigeria is people’s perception of the career. Someone once asked me “how will you survive as an artist, when you only draw and paint people”? I think most people haven’t understood what art is all about.

What do you find fascinating about being an artist?

Being an artist is among the best things about my existence. Enjoying the liberty of countless creative ideas, expressing unique thoughts that can be written, spoken and visualized. Being an artist draws you more closely to God day after day, because you have to seek for Wisdom from the Master. Someone once said that “an artist is the closest being to God”. I believe it takes a special grace to say something like that. An artist makes living bearable, I don’t perceive myself as a mere mortal being, I see myself powerful, strong, innovative and a god. An awesome quote said “it is not bragging if it is true”.

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What creative medium would you love to explore but haven’t tried yet?

I would love to explore painting, paintings have always been a thing of joy to me.

Advice for upcoming creative?

There’s always something new to learn. I will start by encouraging an upcoming creative to always step out of his/her comfort zone, trust me on this, no one person knows it all. Someone said and I quote “Never be satisfied. That’s dangerous”. An upcoming creative should ask him/herself questions like these; what is my goal/aim? What do I want? Why am I doing what I am doing? On attempting to answer these questions he/she is like a skilled hunter with a loaded rifle targeting a prey, this will keep the artist focused in taking the right shots. Katharina Grosse said “Don’t use your art to exploit or as a tool to advance racism, homophobia or sexism”, I will add to this by advising that art shouldn’t be used to hurt a person or a set of people, but used to bring harmony in peoples live, art should preach love, peace, unity and used in the betterment of this world.

Comparison kills joy, my point here is not that an upcoming creative shouldn’t have a mentor or a tutor, but when he uses the mentor’s work as a yardstick for measuring himself he/she restricts the growth process. He/she would become like a watered plant without sunlight.  Creative people think outside the box and try things differently, they are not held bound by inferiority complex or the spirit of failure. Creative people make art wherever they are and an upcoming creative should show the world the uniqueness dying to be let out in his/her soul, that is what makes an artist exclusive. An upcoming creative should not hide in the dark, he/she should make himself exposed and come to the light.

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What’s the most exciting piece of art you’ve seen, and what were your thoughts on it?

Well, I have seen numerous fascinating piece of art since I opened my eyes in this world, but Starry night Painted in June 1889 by Vincent Van Gogh continues to amaze me. The brush strokes, the vibrant colours, the swirling sky, the bright stars, the landscape is “dope”, and what attracts me to the painting is the story behind the artist, it makes me wonder the state of mind the artist was when he created that piece. I concluded that perhaps Vincent Van Gogh must have tapped into the spiritual realm, if not that then more light should be thrown on that work.

What song title best represents you as an artist?

Omemma by Frank Edwards – the song describes God as my Father.

beauty

What would you consider you Muse?

God Almighty is my Muse, the Author of Originality, with Him no artist gets dry of inspiration. Creativity becomes a part of you, if flows naturally.

If you had to pick one artist to collaborate with, who would it be.

I would pick Austin Uzor, a graduate from University of Nigeria, Nsukka. His strokes encourage my spirit greatly to keep on pressing on day after day.

Follow him through his creative journey on @ubiomoogheneroh

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