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Oladapo Ogunjobi is Harnessing Augmented Reality to Re-define African Art: In Conversation with Afrocritik

Oladapo Ogunjobi is Harnessing Augmented Reality to Re-define African Art: In Conversation with Afrocritik

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When Oladapo introduced the enthralling 1111 Project, he created an art collection that eclipsed traditional art and carved out a futuristic pathway for African art…

By Joy Chukwujindu

Often, you will find traditional artists happily ensconced on a stool while stroking their brushes on a primed canvas, but the 21st century has announced a few artists who have ditched the borders of canvas for technology-infused art. Oladapo Ogunjobi, also known as Ouverture, is a Nigerian multidisciplinary artist who creates enlivened art by infusing visual storytelling, photography, with technology. In 2018, he was a featured participant in the New York Portfolio Review for his Mammon collection which birthed the idea for The 1111 Project. When Oladapo introduced the enthralling 1111 Project, he created an art collection that eclipsed traditional art, and carved out a futuristic pathway for African art. Little wonder, the Nigerian Discovery Museum has inducted all 11 artworks from The 1111 Project in its digital galleries.

(Read also: Reem Gaafar is Blurring the Lines Between Science and Creativity: In Conversation)

With the use of augmented reality technology, The 1111 Project successfully evokes an interactive experience for its viewers; from the swirling and runny movements, to the swishing and clinking sounds it makes, undoubtedly, the experience feels like exploring a theme park. A brief virtual tour into the three-dimensional gallery which houses The 1111 Project demonstrates Oladapo Ogunjobi’s genius artistic expressions. Afrocritik was more than happy to discuss his remarkable artistic style and influences, The 1111 Project, the future of African art, and much more.

For our first-time audience itching to know about Oladapo Ogunjobi, could you tell us more about yourself?

I studied Creative Arts at the University of Lagos, Nigeria and I am a professional artist. I am an introvert who enjoys finding out ways to do significant things. Also, I consider myself a thinker with a philosophical mind.

Would you say your work got influenced by your background in any way? If so, what bits of your upbringing were the major influences on your career?

There were multiple influences from my background. My mom runs a school, and I was used to staying back after school hours while she completed some administrative duties. With the extra time on my hands, I would create some art and as soon as I got home, I placed the art on my dad’s table mat. In exchange, my dad would drop N10 or N20 on the table mat and it encouraged me to keep creating more art. Also, my mother’s brother is an artist and I recreated his art for most of my secondary school years.

Who would you say your biggest artistic influences are, and why?

My art is different, and I do not have any artistic influences. However, I draw my influence from my personality as an individual. As I mentioned, I am an introvert and I love thinking. I am influenced by people known for their creative thinking, philosophers, and businessmen like Elon Musk, and Leonardo Da Vinci, among others. These are not artistic influences but creative ones.

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Oladapo Ogunjobi

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Could you let us in on your art muses? Are there any specifics worthy of note?

My greatest muse is women. Also, money, and the concept of life and death inspire me.

Art, generally, is made to evoke emotions/feelings. What particular feelings/emotions do you hope to evoke in people who view your art?

When I create an art piece, I want people to stop and appreciate it. I want my art to resonate with everybody and I have achieved this with the use of creative imagery and technology.

Since The 1111 Project, you have been described by Market Watch as the first African artist to launch augmented reality artwork, please tell us more about the Project and what inspired you to create it.

The 1111 Project is a collection of different artworks from different series. There are 11 artworks on the project. It is a lifelong project and would define art and technology as we know it. I created the first image of the first series in 2017, created the last image of the last series in 2020 and, I released the project in November 11, 2020. The truth is that augmented reality is an open source for any artist to access, but The 1111 Project stood out because it gave the viewers a wholesome artistic experience. What inspired me to release The 1111 Project was the fact that I knew I was special and I wanted to put it out there so that more people would know it, too. It has been a ride so far.

What are the challenges you have faced as a professional African artist?

The challenges are endless, and it is generally faced by Africans. For example, unstable power supply, poor Internet connections, and high cost of production among others. These challenges are present, but I choose to ignore them. Growing up, I told myself that I am human and not just a Nigerian or an African. I am the guy that would say, “let us get out of Earth and go to Mars.” I believe that challenges are not good enough excuses for an artist not to give the world art to appreciate.

Your fans are eager to know what kind of projects to expect from you in the nearest future. Do you mind giving them any tid-bits?

I have always wanted to release at least one project a year. I dropped The 1111 Project in November 2020 but it kicked off in 2021. In 2022, I dropped another titled The Individual. This year, 2023, I will be dropping another project called Bloody Mannequin.  In 2024, I will be releasing Family Meeting based on life and family. I have all my projects planned out till 2030.

What are the most favourable reviews you have received about your work from collectors and critics?

The best review I received was from Don Jazzy. He bought a piece from The 1111 Project, and that changed everything. When I had a conversation with Don Jazzy, he said I was a visionary and it was something to hold on to. As for the critics, one told me that art is meant to be appreciated without the use of our phones. I replied that the world is becoming more advanced with technology and digital development. It is expected that we adapt to these changes. As long as we did not use Nokia 3310 in 2010, we won’t be using iPhone 14 in the future.

How has your artistic style evolved, and what influenced these changes?

I started with traditional art, then dabbled into digital art. Nowadays, I am doing more art that is fully infused with technology. My art didn’t necessarily evolve with trends. I created The 1111 Project at a time augmented reality in art was not trendy. Because I studied philosophers, it helps me to be a better thinker and create art.

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What is your favourite artwork that you have created so far? What about it stands out to you?

My favorite artwork is a digital artwork titled The Nature of Being. I displayed it at my first solo exhibition in 2019 and since then, it has been placed back in my studio. The piece is an introduction to what is to come. When I made the piece, I just knew. If I had died after making that piece, I would have died happy.

Is there any genre of music you like to listen to when you work? Any favourite artiste?

I listen to multiple genres of music from all parts of the world. I listen to artists like Yanni, Michael Jackson, Fela, Wizkid, Bob Marley among others.

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For fledgling artists trying to thrive in this highly competitive space, could you give any tips on how to get their work seen and get the commissions coming in?

This may sound philosophical; art has to do with your expression, and there is no competition. When you leave the space of creativity to business, that is where competition comes in. When you create, create what you like and not what is selling. After creating, the next thing to do is to share your creation, post your work, put a price to it, a link to it, and keep posting.

Based on your experiences so far as an artist, what general admonition would you give aspiring artists?

Create regardless of whether it is good or bad. Just create.

What do you think the future holds for African art? What glasses do you think need to be shattered in the nearest future? And how well do you see yourself positioned to be part of this future?

African art is broad. When an African takes augmented reality to create artwork, what he has done is create African art. African art is well recognised in the global scene, and it already stands out. Other than the challenges of being a human being in Africa, I don’t think there is a challenge for African art. By 2030, I am going to be among one of the first human beings to be on Mars. It would inspire a lot of Africans because there is an origin, The 1111 Project, to fall back on. I am positioning myself at the highest level so that people can see that we are limitless. I want my artwork showcased on Mars. So yes, the future for African Art would be for our art to be showcased on Mars!

Joy Chukwujindu is an art and entertainment lawyer. She is also an environmentalist with a keen interest in history, art and sustainable development. When she is not lawyering, she’s designing spaces and planning events. You can connect with her on Instagram @joyjindu and Twitter @joy_jinduu. Email: joy.jindu@afrocritik.com

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