Life Conversations: Meet one of Nigeria’s budding female contemporary artist

“I love football.”

Female football painter

Olamide Bakare is a rising and skilled 21st-century artist whose artwork portrays societal issues in Nigeria using pencil work, vibrant colours, and gestural expressions to pass her message. Carving a niche in mixed media and abstract art, her works have gotten international recognition within a two-year timeframe.

Known on Twitter as LammieArt, her magnifico art has depicted works surrounding the female gender, #EndSARS, and Twitter Ban.

She answers a few questions about her background and artwork:

Who is Olamide Bakare?

I am 22. I have been in art six years now. Am a contemporary artist who establishes the truth using various mediums and also portray my childhood experience, relating it to life philosophies. I make use of paper and canvas. Music is also my drive.

There are many things that need to be portrayed in society that some artists are afraid to portray, and as an artist art is about humanity. Its life.

Art is not only about documenting my childhood experiences, there are several changes in the society that art can clamor for which represents a lot of situations, even if we can’t access them later, art can always represent it. It can speak volumes of a particular period and serve as history.

Tell us about your childhood experiences?

Ok growing up, I had family challenges, which almost affected my education. When I published my debut novella in 2014 I never felt any fatherly love. Successful people have their stories, but at a point I had questions? Why can't I have a supportive father who is interested in building me up and showing me the ways of the world.

Nigerian Dream by Olamide Bakare. Medium: Charcoal and Burnt Paper on Pelican. Exhibited at the Florida International University 2021. A symbolic work on #EndSARS.

How did you get into painting?

I developed a love for art at 15 and started painting at 16. I enrolled in a studio in Badagry but it was a hostile environment and I left for other studios and when I gained admission into LASU I went on a path of self-development.

How do you approach Art?

I approach art to challenge the world, the environment and to challenge what some women are afraid to do or say.

Diverted Nigerian Youths by Olamide Bakare. Medium: Oil colour on Canvas. Exhibited at the Manchester VR 2020. A symbolic work of Nigeria’s youth entrepreneurial endeavors.

What inspires your work?

Let me say my environment and my non-involvement in feminine work. I come from a cultured environment being Badagry. Badagry shaped me into the woman am becoming today. There’re many things about our culture and how we are raised.

So, it's mandatory for you to learn a skill before you go through your JAMB process and all of that. After completion of WASSCE, our mothers would insist on engaging in ise-owo [learning a skill]. And there’s an establishment in Badagry called WAPA for children to attend.

Majority of Badagry people do that, about 70%. For our generation, it’s not a fixed culture but for the previous generation, it's mandatory.

I never wanted to learn female-related professions like tailoring. Most women do the obvious but I want to be a front lead in challenging my peers to do something different.

When do you find the time to paint?

Am in my final year second semester combining art with school activities hasn’t been easy. I do draw at midnight, I do not have a store, I make use of my hostel for my drawings, sometimes daytime I do the sketch.

Coerced by Olamide Bakare. Medium: Pencil and colour on Pelican. Exhibited at the Asia Artist Association in Beijing, 2022. A symbolic work on child marriage.

How has football inspired some of your works?

I love football, I watch it. I support both Barca and PSG, that’s where Tuchel comes in, I’m also a Messi fan, he’s inspiring, versatile, and consistent.

Where have your works been exhibited?

My works are exhibited internationally in institutions like the Florida International University, Manchester Virtual Reality Open in 2020, Asia Arts Association Malaysia that chaired the 2022 Winter Olympics, and some local galleries in Nigeria. And I should add galleries in Nigeria are not open to giving opportunities to emerging artists but the international galleries accept our works because we are attempting to change the narrative about art.

Have you met other young female artists like yourself?

I would say no. I know of a few on social media and their style is different from mine and in LASU have met enthusiasts, am the major female artist here in this institution, but there are a lot of male artists, and am inspired by the works of Titus Agbara, and Marcellina Akpojotor.

What are the challenges for the collective of young emerging artists especially female artists?

Balancing education and art at a go. Investing a lot in art could expose one to bacteria and get sick from it without taking proper precautions. Financially too, putting in a lot of money into materials can come at a cost. Female artists are taken advantage of too and are looked down upon.

In our field, the older generation feels we are not doing enough and art generally is not appreciated in Nigeria. And for the galleries, opportunities are few for young persons and the criteria can eliminate an artist. Collectors too are exploiting us.

How do the male counterparts perceive female painters?

From my experience, some male artists feel threatened, they feel we don’t do enough or won't support certain female works on social media. Some refuse to teach certain concepts and techniques which can affect how you portray certain works and it's a male-dominated space, so there is discrimination and resentment.

How did you overcome these challenges?

Self-belief. Also creating my own style within my space limits imitation. They can imitate me but cant be like me and that’s the best way I can do my art and be comfortable and confident. Asides from self-taught styles have leveraged on my relationships with other artists to gain improved techniques in my niche of mixed media and pencil work with color representation as my signature.

And is there a goal for you?

After school, I intend to have my own professional studio and make art consistently and set up a gallery someday. I do art for humanity, not money I want to model myself to be the next version of art.

What is the next version of art?

Impactful art. That for me is what art should be in Nigeria. I would like to inspire the next generation and mentor budding talents, especially my female peers within the art community.

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