Whether you believe in a higher power or not, there is no other artist in the universe who is more renowned and accomplished than the ultimate creator (or science?). From sculpting galaxies to creating the most diverse array of planets and stars, it’s almost hard to compete.
As I walk down the street leading into a flamboyant, gated community, the fresh air on my black skin, glistening under the soft glare of the sun makes me look up at the blue sky in wonder. Art is everywhere. Each stroke of the cloud is artistic, so is the fabric of the world we live in, from the few people who walk by me in fit physiques and glowing melanin to vibrant colours here and there.
It’s easy to see just how much we have inherited as human beings from our celestial ancestors. Without art, life would be completely boring, a canvas of black and white, never mixing, never creating magic, never bound to discover just how colourful our existence can be.
I’m on a mission today. The long walk down the smooth road, populated with either a child hawking pure water, a man lost in a world of music from his dangling earpieces or a career woman sweating in deteriorating heels, slowly ends when I find the address of the genius I left the cosy comfort of my condo to interview.
His name is Ayo Filade, a mystery of sorts. There is always this mysterious aura that surrounds the artist. If you don’t look mysterious, intelligent and superior in form, are you an artist? Ayo Filade embodies all of this when I sit down in a large room filled with plants and calm vibes. He sits across from me, both of us sipping cool orange juice.
I ask Ayo filade “Who are you?”
Those are the first words I say after fleeting introductions at the door. He goes on to tell me how he has always wanted to be an artist, from sketching and making shapes when he was just a kid. But I want to know more than the typical backstory of being inspired by his father. I want to know what brings out the beautiful pieces he creates. What is his core inspiration? How does he create like God?
Ayo Filade: Hyperrealism Artist
You’re an artist. A creator of sorts. What you think, you bring to life with the stroke of a brush. How would you describe your art? What exactly does your art communicate to your audience?
When it comes to art, no description comes to mind. I like to think art transcends categories. Art is just art. But for clarity sake, I know art comes in different shapes and forms and I mostly find myself dabbling in Hyperrealism.
It’s a genre of painting and sculpture where the art piece is extremely realistic to the extent they trick you into thinking it’s real. I express my art in this form currently. The goal is to show my audience and whoever pays attention to how similar we are to art itself. We embody art. It comes from within. Without us, there is no art.
Artists must find influences somewhere before they can create, right? What influences Ayo Filade? Explain the process of being able to form an idea out of thin air and turn it into reality with so much ease and perfection.
It’s different for every artist. Some listen to music and suddenly they’re able to paint like a Picasso while some just take a stroll down the street are pumped with so much energy they could create for days. For me, for Ayo Filade, I’ve always been fascinated by nature, my immediate surroundings, you know.
I visit the outdoors a lot to help collect my thoughts and streamline my ideas. It’s almost like I draw inspiration from the greatest form of artistry there is. Mother Nature. Everything about her is art, perfection, detail, yet simplicity. Can anyone create more than her? That’s why I say, I believe it is god-like in many ways, to create art. You exist on a higher plane.
It is. Creating is the greatest gift God can ever give somebody and you have it. Although nobody can compete with what he continues to do on earth and beyond, you come close with the variety of works you have out there. Which one was your most favourite to create? Why is it your favourite?
My favourite piece of work has to be the “Classified Series”. I get so excited just thinking about it. I still remember the day I thought of it and started to turn it all into reality. So, the series is a sort of task, which encourages women to embrace their insecurities and experiences and dispose of the idea that these events are not allowed to be shared.
Do you get it? Women hide a lot of their insecurities or experiences from the world like they just put it in a folder with Classified written all over it. Nobody has access to what made them who they are today, beautiful creates of strength and grace. It breaks my heart to know many young women don’t know that these very things are building blocks, not things they should hide away for fear of rejection from anybody.
The series aimed to bring light to these hidden experiences and bring women who are willing to share these events/stories into a safe community of connection and acceptance from other women just like them. All of this can and does stem from just looking at some of the drawings in the series. It works. The power of art is real.
From your experience, what do you think is the biggest challenge that Nigerian Artists face? How do you think this challenge can be circumvented?
Nigeria is full of talent. You’ve heard it time and time again. We stand out no matter where we are, no matter what industry we find ourselves in, except in our own country. A sad reality that needs to be changed, quickly I hope. Artists need to find inspiration in their everyday lives, but when everyday life is a struggle due to lack of resources, political turmoil and a dearth of the audience, you slowly suffocate them.
Things like that lead to their talent dwindling. There is a need for art to grow and evolve. Nigeria needs to recognize just how far art can take our country and invest in us. Perhaps funding to art galleries, stories and independent artists with vision and dedication to the craft.
Okay, let’s get political. If you were in a position to create politics that could help Nigerian artists, what’s the first politics you will implement?
Perhaps a policy that prevents or penalizes people from reproducing or claiming the hard work of other artists. That’s a major start. Artist offers their sweat and tears to create and it can be stolen just like that. I know there is a thing called intellectual property and laws which protect the artwork.
The question is how many artists have access to this kind of privilege? I would love to make it universal and accessible to anybody, even the little kid in the one-bedroom apartment dreaming of becoming the next Picasso.
If there’s one thing you could say to young people just starting on this path, what would it be?
What I would say is listen to yourself and know what you want to do and go after it. The journey of an artist is never-ending and vast. You can evolve and become a whole different person in the blink of an eye. Also, remind yourself that everyone’s story and path are different and there’s nothing wrong with clapping for others while being patient for your turn to shine.
As I leave Ayo Filade’s house in my booked Uber and embark on a long trip back home under a blue sky which slowly begins to darken into a spectacular purple haze, I look out onto the streets of young men and women returning home from work and wonder which one of them is the next Picasso waiting to bloom. One of them must be. I know it.
You can check out and follow Ayo Filade works on Instagram @ayo_draws.