Hello Good Afternoon, welcome to Ibadan Insider Business Visit, where we showcase brands and businesses within the city of Ibadan. Today we are talking to Mr. Adeniyi Dagunduro Artist and CEO of Adedag African Arts Gallery. and He shares his thoughts on his love for Art, and running an Arts Gallery as a business in Ibadan. Read and enjoy
First of all, how did you come into fine arts? Was it when you go into school that you decided to study fine arts or you have always wanted to be a fine artist
For me, Art is a profession that came about as a result of my God-given talent. When you discover that you have a particular talent and you follow it up. You will develop a passion for the profession and you will start building yourself up gradually. That is what Art is for me. From when I was young, I have always been interested in drawing and moulding things. So when I got into school and I found out that you can actually do Fine- Arts as a course, I was like Beautiful! let me put in for this course. That was how Art became a career for me
You said Art is a talent that God gave you, but with so many methods of computer aided drawing and design now available, do you think Art can be taught to someone who has no “Artistic” talent at all?
Yes, I believe so. It is not the day that You begin to learn ABC that you know the whole alphabet. It is by constant learning that you grasp things. One thing that is crucial to life is determination. If you determine that “this thing I want to do it, and I must achieve it.” You will achieve that thing. That includes learning about art as well.
So you mean a layman like me that knows nothing about art can become as good an artist as you are?
Of course, you can, If you are determined to do it
I can see, drawings here, and paintings too, also some sculptures, which area of art do you specialize in?
I specialize in painting. I paint with different mediums. I do Collage paintings, I work on velvet and I use everything I have available to get my painting work done. However, I do some other forms of art too when I have the time, wood sculpture, metal sculpture, ceramics etc. In art school, you learn to do everything even if you will specialize later.
So in essence, everything in this gallery is your production?
Yes they are all mine
So do you think a full-time career in fine Arts pays in a country like Nigeria, with the way Nigerians view art?
Presently, the situation isn’t so satisfactory. The thing is the Government at every level has always been focused on promoting other things, things like sports for example at the expense of arts and culture and the creative industry in general. These days though Government is starting to wake up to the fact that arts and culture can be a valuable enterprise. We now have a cultural ambassador which is good. So I believe that a career in arts is viable but one must be willing to work hard. If the artist works hard he will surely get his big break.
So what else do you think Government can be doing to support artists and the creative industry other than funding of course?
There are plenty of groups of working artists and there also foundations created by older and successful artists to support younger ones. The government can create big exhibitions to support these groups. The Government should create time out of its schedule for artists and creatives and it should also give more logistics support to artists to showcase what they have done to the world.
Talking about exhibitions,have You had any large exhibitions yourself, in Nigeria or anywhere else in the world?
Yes, I have had exhibitions. I have done some solo exhibitions, I have also participated in joint exhibitions with popular artists in Nigeria
They say every creative no matter how much work he has done has some personal favourites. Do you have any personal favourites among the works in this gallery?
That is true, I have favourites among my works. When I find that I love a particular artistic work that I have done, I do not leave it here in this gallery, I take it home. Because it is counterproductive from a business perspective for a buyer to come into the gallery to buy a particular work and then I tell them it is not for sale. So I take it home and keep it myself. Sometimes people ask me: “since you are the artist that made this work, can’t you make another like it?” but the thing with art is if you make a piece, you will never be able to make another like it. Even if you get the colour of the first one perfectly right, you will never be able to achieve the exact effects.
Do You have role models, any artist that you look up to/admire?
Yes, I do. I had to work as an apprentice artist under Mr. Gbolade Omidiran, in Ile-Ife. He currently runs Omis Arts Gallery. He was a great mentor to me then. I also have various artists in Nigeria that I admire.
So as an aside now, any foreign artists dead or alive that you also like?
I love Picasso, sometimes I find time to look at his work, I can’t but admire his creative genius.
A lot of artists complain that Nigerians are not interested in artworks. Do you find this true as an artist in the business of producing and selling works?
I will say it is true, and the current state of the economy is not doing both buyers and artists any favours either. It is hard for someone who barely has enough to eat to patronize artists. However, I have also discovered that buying Art is about interest. Even if you have millions of naira, if you don’t have any interest in art, you will not buy art. However, if you have an interest in art, you will spend your last kobo on it. A lady from the University of Ibadan came here once to buy a statue that originally costs about ten thousand naira. But she begged me earnestly to sell it for her for seven thousand naira because she only had eight thousand naira left on her and one thousand out of that eight thousand naira was for her transport. I had to sell it to her. I did not mind incurring that three thousand naira loss because I saw the passion and interest she had for that statue.
Do you train other artists, and can you train someone who has no knowledge about arts at all?
Of course, I do. As I said before, it is not about the talent you think you have, it is about your passion for art, your ability to work hard and your determination to succeed. If you talk to me and I see all that, even if you know nothing about art, I will train you to be an artist. I even go to people’s houses to train them. Some people want to learn art themselves or want their children to learn about Art. I visit them, we work out a schedule and I train them in their houses.
Any Projects that you are working on that you wish to share with us?
The big project in front of me now is a solo exhibition at Alliance Francais in Ibadan. It will come up in December, but we don’t have a definite date yet. I also have a few joint exhibitions I hope to participate in before 2016 ends.
Thank you very much, Mr. Adeniyi Dagunduro, for finding time to have this chat with us
It is always my pleasure, and thanks for talking to me too.
Adedag African Arts Gallery is located at Aleshinloye Road, Opposite Iyaganku Police Station, Iyaganku,Ibadan. He is on Facebook as Dagunduro Adeniyi and on Instagram as @dagunduro.a