Tobi Adebayo is a young artist who creates life for a living. When you first step into his little studio, filled with the canvas of beautiful pictures created with smooth charcoal or graphite, you find yourself in the very centre of the artist’s heart. I’m curious and sceptical at the same time.
The young man in front of me, gowned in rolled jeans and a singlet while working on another masterpiece, quickly lets me in on a little secret. His art is how he addresses the issues affecting us in our modern Nigerian society. Every artist seems to say the same thing.
They have somehow garnered the courage to utilize their art to fight oppression. But how? Tobi offers a wide smile that accentuates his boyish features. “Ask me anything you want and I will do my best to give you a complete and honest answer,” he replied. So I sit down, ready to dissect the mind of a true creative.
Tobi Adebayo Art: Trailing his Inspiration
Tobi Adebayo Art
First and foremost, tell me about Tobi Adebayo. Who inspired you to take this route? You can always learn a lot about a person from who they look up to, right?
That’s true! Who we see as heroes has the power to influence the road we walk down. I have so many of them, all true visionaries who continue to inspire me to this day. All of them were not just brilliant artists, but they utilized their art for the better good of the world. What they believed in speaking in their pieces.
My love for drawing and the art world started when I was a kid, although I didn’t take it up professionally until 2018 when I started to come across other artists who were very serious with their craft. Take, for instance, Kelvin Okafor, Arinze Stanley, Fatola Israel, John Onifade, Castro Adefisayo amongst others.
All of them are so good at what they do, and so effortless too. I’ve been able to build my skills through diligence, consistency, and patience because I want to contribute and make a difference like them.
You seem to already be making a difference. Before I came here, I went through a couple of your archives and I’m shocked at how poetic they can be. Tell us about “the Happiness Within Project”. That one stuck out for me. What inspired it?
Do you see? Did it stand out to you? Why? Because we all are in pursuit of happiness. Something that can not be removed or dimmed. Growing up and learning a lot of things, I’ve come to understand that life only gets tougher. “Happiness Within” is a project I hold dear to my heart.
It represents the reality of how we tend to get knocked down by what life throws at us – intimidation, oppression, low self-esteem, peer pressure, fear, uncertainty/eagerness about what the future holds, and several other issues.
However, amidst it all, you can always find happiness within yourself because when life throws lemons at you, the best option is to make lemonades out of them. The visual expression of the artwork exhibits a model who was able to find comfort through the downpour of water from the head to the body.
“We all are in pursuit of happiness. Something that can not be removed or dimmed.”Tobi Adebayo
Tobi Adebayo: The Creative Blueprint
I once heard you refer to your works as the ‘Art of Honesty’. Why?
My art is Realism which I refer to as ‘Art of Honesty‘. It also involves creating surrealistic artworks by observing my immediate environment. My work enables the viewer to relate to what’s not right while also considering how it is supposed to be right. I love exploring that feel.
Explain the magic behind using charcoal for your art. Why is it your favorite?
Charcoal and graphite pencils on paper are what I prefer the most, for now. This is also because pencil & paper is the most basic material and almost everyone was first introduced to it as an amateur learner. Although creating massive artworks with such instruments seems and looks impossible, it is very possible by learning the rudiments.
I also love the monochromatic feel of the shades of black, it is solemn and makes it easy for viewers to concentrate on the way light and shadow fall across the surface of a figure, object or scene without unnecessary distraction. I might probably consider expressing my Art through other mediums in full, later.
What Does Your Artwork Represent? What Does Art Mean to You?
My artwork represents a voice, physical reality, and also honesty. To me, art means LIFE.
If there’s one thing you could say to young people just starting on this path, what would it be?
It is wonderful to be an Artist, creating and speaking a life through several projects, it’s such an overwhelming feeling. For every person just starting, try to put these things in place:
Firstly, understand yourself and what you stand for, this would naturally come along the line. Secondly, in the process of executing your works and becoming a better Artist, let your passion push you, be consistent with it, patience matters a lot to reach a particular level.
Keep learning and always invest in yourself and your Art, by all means, present yourself the best way you can. Don’t forget that learning never stops, always make sure your present project is better than the previous, don’t stop promoting yourself, and finally, keep praying.
Interviewer: Adeola Adegbite
Editor: Bassey Eyo
Graphics Producer: Harry Ugorji