Intricate compositions, reoccurring neon masks and vibrant colours take centre stage in Osadebe’s new body of work: A Stranger in my Home. These new works are deeply rooted in the traditional practice of interior paintings, infused with a juxtaposition of traditional Nigerian aesthetics. What this creates is a contemporary visual experience that tells a story of today’s world.
Interview by Cybèle Kahalé-Abdo
1. What is your method of work ? How do you use – if it occurs - self-doubt in your process of creation?
I am a big believer in the saying “inspiration come to you when you are working” so for me that is the guiding point for all my creations. Sometimes I start by looking at the notes I have made over time, old notes, new notes. These notes all have ideas taken from conversations, images I have seen, the news or anything that I found interesting. I then use these as a starting point to create. I always like what I create to reflect what I am experiencing or what I am interested in. In regards to self-doubt, I would say it comes about when I have not created in a while so I have to keep being immersed in the process of creation in order to stay motivated.
2. Faces are never visible in your work, and covered by either a mask or a helmet – whenever heads are uncovered, they are faceless. Why so ?
Without the facial features, there is a level of abstraction the works possesses that I feel gets the viewers to take what they feel from it.
3. As a Nigerian artist, how do you deal with Western expectations of what your work « should » be ?
I created a movement called Neo-Africa which speaks on those expectations and it’s limitations. Expecting a piece of art to be a certain way to deal with the whole nation to me is limiting the potential of viewing different perspectives that come from these different diversified regions.
4. Do you consider your work as being a reinvention of European and Western narratives forced upon Afrodiasporic productions ?
I see it as a merger of all my experiences as an individual.
Dennis Osadebe is a Nigerian mixed-media artist best known for his vibrant post-pop style. Osadebe’s style is a unique blend of digital processes which he uses to create canvases that are subsequently layered with acrylic paint. With his characteristic use of flattened planes and bold colours, the artist creates what he refers to as a “NEO” visual style, one that is “modern, bright, expressive and provocative”.