Artist Interview: Olawale Kolawale

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Olawale Kolawale hails from Ondo state in Nigeria and presently resides in Oyo, Nigeria. Olawale started out a hyper realism painter and later evolved to bring unique style of art that sets him apart from other artist. His works are focused on realizing one’s identity while maintaining unity. We had a chat with Olawale to discover both the artist and the art.

When did you first become interested in art?
My journey with art begun in secondary school, had a class in preparation for examination and I wasn’t interested, so I took out a note and started drawing. I had class mates that were really good at it and I wanted to be better so I kept practicing.

Who were your biggest influences when you started out?
My classmates, actually three of them, that I looked up to in school and admired their works.

Describe your art using three words?
Bold , Vibrant and Eye-catching

What does your work aim to say?
Where we are in the country presently, there’s a need for identity. My work seeks to bring in something unifying and relatable but different. I’m currently on a break from the message but still focusing on the importance of the message.

What is your creative process like?
Usually, I have a pose in mind, take a picture or have friends take a picture recreating the pose and send to me, then I use the pictures as visual representation for my Outlines only. Other times, I see a picture somewhere that inspires me and I draw it.

What are the stories behind your work?
I started out with realism because it was trending and everyone was into it, then I got bored and wanted to get an identity for myself. I needed people to see my work and call my name on sight. I wanted my own style, where people do not name a long list of people in that line when they see my work and regard me as a copy.
The patterns are actually inspired by zebras, which have black and white stripes but they do not have the same patterns. That is no two zebras have the same pattern but are still identified as zebras.

Have you always operated in the same style/medium?
No, I started out with realism. I’ve also tried out abstract painting, oil on canvas and colored pencils which are almost like pastel.

How have you developed your career?
It is a hobby turned career.

What emotion do you intend on provoking from the viewer?
Awareness of one’s self, consciousness and relatable.

How do you title your pieces and how important are the titles to your pieces?
The title of my pieces are determined by the message, the connection to the piece and vibes.

How do you know when a painting is done?
I’m a minimalist, so I try to maintain simplicity, balance and aesthetics.

How do you replenish your creativity?
I think a lot, so some ideas pop up randomly. And it just comes.

What is the favorite part of your work?
The painting process.

What would you be caught doing when you’re making art?
Shaking my head while bopping to music and singing along also soliloquizing gestures.

If your artwork ‘Redhead’ could dance to a song, what song would it be?
African Queen by 2face Idibia cause that is the song I think of when I see the piece.

How did Coronavirus affect your art and business?
It was a positive and negative event. Negatively, I couldn’t take pictures so had to rely on my friends recreating the ideas I had in mind and send me the photos. On the bright side, it gave me clarity and extra audience because people were living their lives on social media hence a large probability of stumbling on my work.

What’s next for you?
(Excitedly) I’m working on a new series that strays from my usual message while maintaining the importance of the message and it will be released this month.

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