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I find it quite difficult to maintain eye contact so I challenge myself with my art - Ife Kalejaiye

One of the most interesting things about art or works from creativity in general is the thought process behind every creation.

Beyond the aesthetics, is the inspiration that guides the artist/creative on bringing a piece of art to life. Whether, it is purely from imagination or elements that are seen in the in the artists environment, what gives meaning to artwork is the story behind it.

Today’s Spotlight Star is Ife Kalejaiye, a young artist from Nigeria. He is a young mixed media portrait artist who draws inspiration for his work from everyday encounters.

Here’s what he tells us about his art and why creates:

Can you please introduce yourself to our audience?

Ife Kalejaiye is my name, and I was born in Ondo State, Nigeria, in 1997. I currently live and work in Nigeria. In a family of sixchildren, I am the youngest. I've always been fascinated by how you can make something unique and beautiful out of a blank sheet of paper, having grown up in a creative family. As a result, I can claim that my artistic path began at an early age, when I began drawing colorful characters from TV shows and children's books. I didn't start working as an artist until 2017, when I was in my second year of college, studying science. Art is something I enjoy doing a lot; all I have to do now is devote myself totally to it.

How would you define your art?

My art, I'd say, is an emotional reaction to something, a desire to express a feeling I've had. My goal in making art is to depict the struggle and ordeal of the average human as a product of society, a story I'm always ready and motivated to tell until it's no longer needed to be told, and of which such an expectation is unquestionably a castle in the sky. This, I believe, might assist people in conceptualizing their space by going inward to recognize how unique we are in the midst of our challenges while maintaining the conviction that we all share common ground.

What do you love the most about art?

There are numerous reasons to appreciate art. One of the thoughts that appeals to me the most is the ability to conjure up something from one's imagination and a few minor components that is not only substantial but also resonates with others. It's simply breathtaking.

The subjects in your art always seem to have an intense gaze. What is the story you are telling with this concept?

I have a hard time maintaining eye contact. When I'm talking to someone, I find it quite difficult to maintain eye contact. As a result, I decided to take on the challenge with the characters in my artwork. I want the character to have a conversation with the viewer, and want the emotional connection that is felt while viewing my portraits undeniable, allowing us to reflect on our own experiences and interactions with those we come into contact with on a daily basis.

The emotions that your subjects wear on their faces establish a connection between the artwork and the view. In your opinion, how does the portrayal of emotions influence the viewers’ appreciation of art?

They are looking at someone’s private space and they are exploring their personal thought and stories, exploring theme of the tension of the change, sometimes a misunderstood experiment. The essence of the subject helps bring the viewer into it.

Some of your subjects seem to be positioned beside a bookshelf or reading a book. What is the message you are sending here? As an artist, how significant is art as an educational medium in enlightening Black people about owning their identity?

"If you want to hide something from a black man, put it in a book," as the saying goes. That is profound and sadly, true. Ignorance is said to be a containment weapon. Although there has been improvement with the amount of information we have access to this age.

By questioning things in our lives and in our world, we can make progress and build a great community. That is what the series "Silence of the Teachable" is about.

We’ve observed that there’s another dimension to your art that involves the use puzzles, why is this an integral part of your aesthetics?

Instead of scars I choose to sometimes represent the human figure in puzzles, as it is not even and of the same depth, the same as life experiences. These are the pieces that make us who we are and have varying degrees of significance.

In times when your creative juices are not flowing, what do you do to get in your zen mode and create art?

I occasionally go for a walk around the city, listening to the sounds of the city's hustle and bustle. That is refreshing for me because I usually work in silence. Other times, I watch movies and browse the internet for interesting content.

When you’re not creating art, what fun things do you love to do?

I really love craft work like furniture making and a little bit of gaming. So basically I’m making art all the time

If you are to wake up with additional talent, what would that be and why?

Dancing, I'd say. I have a lot of dance moves in my head; it's just that my body doesn't move in sync with them. Haha



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