AFM sat down with Nigerian artist Demola Ayegbayo to talk about his journey as an artist so far. Ayegbayo hails from Ejigbo Osun state in Nigeria and has been practicing art since he was a young child. Many of his paintings feature strong black women painted in vivid colors. Find below the interview between AFM co-founder Seyi and Ayegbayo.
SO: Hi Demola. Lovely to be talking with you today! Could you please tell us a little about your background?
DA: Hi. I was born in a family of five in 1988 in Ejigbo Osun State in Nigeria. I’m the second born. My mother is now a retired teacher and my dad is a farmer.
Growing up, I was very close to my mother. I still am. She is my role model.
SO: How did you become interested in art?
DA: I started practicing art when I was very young. When I was a kid, I used to love watching my grandpa sculpt and paint.
In primary school, I clearly remember drawing in my lesson notebooks. And by the time I was in secondary school, most of my classmates had started bringing their drawing assignments to me to finish. At one point, I was one of the best technical drawing students in the class.
After school, I decided to go study fine and applied arts as a course to enhance my knowledge and talent in art. I attended Adeyemi College of Education in Ondo state where I obtained my degree certificate in Fine and Applied Arts (B.ed). Here, I specialized in painting.
After my graduation, I started practicing, often with different media to create art. I have also visited many art galleries and have had the opportunity to meet lots of visual artists who have helped me grow as an artist. I soon realized that perfection in one’s craft comes with constant practice.
Of course, there were days, well, most of the time, when I was anxious and worried. I kept asking myself,“Am I on the right track?”
But then I met people who have really lifted my spirits. That’s been a great help and support for me.
SO: Describe your painting style? What inspires your style of work?
DA: Over time I realized that the best way I know to express myself and express how I feel about the world is through my craft. I have given my painting style a name: ÀBÈFÉ. In my native language, it means “pleaded to be loved”.
I love to paint black women in vibrant colors to create something that is meaningful and attractive.I use portraits of these beautiful black women to speak to society about morals, good behavior, love, and unity.
The concept of using black women is a reference to my loving mother and the role other women have played in my life. An image of a black beautiful woman always reminds me of how my strong mother trained and brought me up with love and good morals. She helped me discover my real self.
I create my art from the things I see in my environment. I believe that whatever is wrong is unworthy of society. I speak to correct this wrong through my craft.
I also get my inspiration from my personal experiences - either in the present or the past.
SO: Do you have any goals for yourself or for your art?
DA: I want my art to be seen as a representation of black women as heroes.
I also want my craft to be used to preach good morals.
Of course, I’d art like my art to be featured in big art institutes so as to teach the coming generations that they can become whatever they want to be till the time they work towards it.