12 Questions for Visual Artist, Iyunola Sanyaolu, aka IyunOla

Thelagosreview.ng is launching a collaboration with visual artists whose works would be used to illustrate the magazine’s weekly newsletters. The collaboration is aimed at providing a meeting point for the arts -visual and written – while introducing the world to the works of these emerging artists.

Our first collaborator is IyunOla Sanyaolu who works in oil which she says she enjoys because “I can easily manipulate it because it’s a slow drying medium.”

IyunOla who describes her works as straddling “abstract expressionism, expressionism and impressionism” believes that art should “be what it wants to be” or else it becomes boring.

Enjoy this chat with Toni Kan

Government Name – Iyunola Tolulope Sanyaolu                    

Artist name, if different – IyunOla.                     

What medium do you work in and why? – I currently work with Oil. I enjoy how I can easily manipulate it because it’s a slow drying medium.

How would you describe the works you produce? – My art is a continuous exploration and search of the true message I bring (which I’m yet to find). They currently fall under abstract expressionism, expressionism and impressionism.     

What does art mean to you? -Art is an expression of thoughts, feelings, experiences, views etc. In turn, it is targeted towards every human emotion in a bid to provoke thoughts.   

Are you trained or self-taught? -I would say trained. Although, I had started creating before going into the university to study Art. The Art School provided an opportunity to learn the theories and more about the field of the arts. Being surrounded by other creatives and those with experience, you get this daily push to learn more, practice more and be better. It was a good opportunity to learn from your mistakes and to learn from other creatives. The growth is dependent on self determination and it has become a conglomaration of things I had picked up and still picking up along the way that have made/still making me.                                                                                                         

Where did the lure of art come from? – I have no idea. But considering the saying – you become what you surround yourself with – makes me guess that with my mom being a horticulturist and interior designer, my uncle being an artist, my brother immersed in the creative thinking process, my sister as a great writer, I might have dragged the creative juices from there. Besides that, growing up, anytime I surrounded myself with the arts, it was nothing but pure joy.                                                                                          

If you were not an artist, what would you be? I would have been a veterinarian and that’s because I really love loooveee animals. I didn’t go for it because of my abusive relationship with reptiles. I think that as a vet you have to handle all animals.        

Who are your greatest artistic influences in Nigeria and abroad? -I am going to mention artists in no particular order who have been part of my artistic journey one way or the other: Edosa Oguigo, Ejoh Wallace, Bolaji Ogunwo, Josh Nmesirionye. They have greatly been part of my growth especially in skill and knowledge.                         

If you had to spend an afternoon with a contemporary Nigerian artist, who would it be and why? – I constantly find ways to improve my skill and learn. I would go with either Mr. Edosa Oguigo or Mr. Ejoh Wallace. Maybe because I have experienced them teach before, but I do not mind continually having being instilled with that knowledge all over again. They have ways of communicating easily and sharing simple knowledge that brings great help.                                                                 

Do you think art should be or do, that is should art be merely aesthetic or have a practical purpose? -Let art be what it wants to be. It’s a personal expression, it shouldn’t be restricted. If not, it becomes too rigid and then boring.                                            

What draws you to a work of art you think is great? – I enjoy works that have a balance of color form and tones, works that break the rules but still have the basics in tune. Sometimes I know it’s a masterpiece when I don’t even know what draws me to it, when it becomes an inner abstract feeling that I do not understand.

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