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Gallery Talks: In Conversation With Oluwapelumi Oluyemi

Oluwapelumi Oluyemi; A New Beginning, 2022 Displayed at INTERCONNECTED group exhibition by Forme Femine Art Gallery and Arneli Art Gallery
Oluwapelumi Oluyemi; A New Beginning, 2022

In our latest Gallery Talk series, we look into each artist's creative process as well as the underlying themes depicted in their works - displayed at our ongoing group exhibition ‘Interconnected’, in collaboration with Arneli Art Gallery.

Oluyemi Oluwapelumi is a Nigerian Contemporary artist from Osun state in south west Nigeria. Born 1997 in Ibadan, Oyo State, where she currently practices and teaches kids art, she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State.

Her interest and love for art blossomed during her Senior Secondary School years, when she drew flowers on available surfaces. She became interested in art after graduating from high school in 2014, deciding to pursue her crafts further and has since been practising, attending workshops, and receiving training. Oluyemi's preferred mediums include oil, charcoal, and graphite. In her portrait paintings, she takes a modernist approach, employing the Impasto method to give off a compelling aura and appeal.

Oluyemi's subjects embody a physical materialisation of internalised dialogues on topics of hope, identity, love, peaceful and communal coexistence. Further influenced by belief, spirituality and the intricacies of daily communal living; she employs a vivid and lush palette in contextualising the ordinary, with heavy brush strokes and vibrant tones.

What inspires your style?


What sort of experimentation has led you to your current style as an artist?

I started out using the Zorn palette which was broad enough to allow me explore the coloured skin, then I started using the impasto method for my skin to show our imperfections. I also decided to scratch the surface of my skin to further emphasis the roughness of the skin.

Why did you start making art? How did you kickstart your artistic endeavour?

I would say after high school really, I started drawing flowers everywhere and it became a thing of concern for everyone. At that time I wanted to study medicine but I got 177 in jamb which made me wait a year, it was during that period I went to an art gallery and discovered "oh this actually a real thing' and then I started I watching YouTube videos and experimenting.

What other artists, genres or movements do you draw inspiration from?

I will say Eniwaye Oluwaseyi, Peter Uka, Tonia Nneji for Artists. I will also say the situations in Nigeria and the Spirit of God.

Oluwapelumi Oluyemi; Who Is This?, 2022

What do you do to get into your creative zone?

I listen to music most times, that helps.

Working with other visual Artists is also very magical and most times I talk to God too.

What are the biggest challenges you've had in your art?

Hmmn... At first it was getting my work out there cos I kept asking myself if I was good enough and then pricing, I didn't know if I was asking too much or too less.

What ultimate messages do your creative expressions convey?

The subjects I use are people dear to me and I talk about my upbringing, spirituality and things I learnt that has shaped my thoughts and belief. My works also make emphasis on different shades of black and brown skin, I believe my works pass across a message of hope, love and identity.

If you could change one aspect of society or social issues through your work, what would it be?

Our attitude towards one another. Nigeria as a country is tough enough, we need to show each other love and be more open to others not just your family members.

Are there any thoughts you wish to share in relation to the theme of interconnectedness? (the impact the global events of the last 3 years have had in your artistic endeavours as a female artist)

I started painting professionally during COVID-19 and that was really helpful cause I had a lot of time on my hands and I was able to practise more. I've also had more galleries who are female-focused reach out to me and that is so soothing and encouraging, to know that we are heard and appreciated.

Has technology had any impact on your artistic practice? In what ways has it affected or shaped it?

I'll say both actually, technology has helped people discover me and helped me discover people and that's been really great but it has also made me question my abilities and I think that can be good if it will make you become better and bad if it demoralises you. I hope you understand…

What are you working on now and next?

A series titled ‘I think so I am’.

INTERCONNECTED - A group exhibition of 18 women artists from across Africa and the Middle East; showcasing 36 works in a variety of mediums and perspectives outlined in paintings, mixed media and digital art. Bordering between the known and the unknown, abstraction and figuration; the selected artists examine the interconnected complexities of human experience detailed through distinct artistic styles and approaches - in personal theory and form.

Visit the exhibition here.

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