Omonu Salisu is a dynamic and creative artist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He has typified abstract art with an artistic force that cuts across paintings. Omonus, being among several artists has learnt different creative styles and experimented with colours and shapes.
He began to embrace the experimental nature of lines, shapes, figures and colours to form abstract and impressionist paintings. Omonus uses colours to symbolize cultural emblems representing African society.
His recent works are translated with symbols (motifs), the symbols of West Africa also represent popular proverbs and maxims, record historical events, express particular attitudes or behaviour related to depicted figures, or concepts uniquely related to abstract shapes
He has participated in several exhibitions and planning a new exhibition.
NW: Tell us about your journey so far in the creative industry?
Omonus: I didn’t want to be an artist. I wanted to remain a graphics designer. I made art, but only as a hobby. Most of my artistic interest at the time was in making digital painting art, I also found the Art and craft village, Abuja. It was where I discovered that there were people out there who got to paint beautiful, amazing things and made a living from it. I started taking drawing and painting lessons from the artists.
Art is what I love to do now, and I have always had a huge interest in it. I create my first painting in 2017 (acrylic on canvas), with the help of Artist Imo Chigboromogu Imo and since then I have been creating with the help and teaching of other artists like Clement Mmaduakor Nwafor, Obiora Ekeanozie E. and seeing other art pieces, and when I see artists who are really passionate about their work, it motivates me and practicing has helped me.
Everyone dreams of turning their hobby into a business, my main plan is to keep painting new artworks and own a gallery one day where I can have a collection of artworks from other artists. From the moment I choose Art, the fear began of not being good enough and it is this fear of not being good enough that has driven me to improve more on my works and in years I can become a master of the art.
He spoke with our correspondent, Dorcas Omotayo, herein below is the excerpt-
NW: As the creative ecosystem evolves, what are the opportunities available for young artists?
Omonus: The opportunities available for young artists are the gallery, art competitions, Media (traditional and social), and exhibition spaces. Also grants will help fund the art materials the artist will need in making more works. I suggest that young artists should be encouraged, so they won’t give up on their creativity, because it is more challenging in this country.
I organized the affordable art exhibition Abuja (2018 and 2019) to give opportunity for the young artists to showcase their artworks to the world and this have helped them to meet collectors, make sales and during the exhibition, we had artist talks that encouraged them to stay focused and keep making good artworks
NW: What challenges have you encountered in your journey so far?
Omonus: The challenges so far are having a big studio space, where I can make big Art pieces, and accessing galleries, some galleries are more interested in self-made artists. also a good camera for photographing my reference and finished works, especially for social media and some online Art stores.
NW: As the year unfolds, what plans do you have for 2021, and how will it impact the African society?
Omonus: My major plans for 2021, is creating more artwork in different mediums, experiment with different styles that are unique from the everyday art we see out there, and will tell stories about the traditions governing the society and our cultural heritage, exhibiting my work in different parts of the world and setting up exhibition to help other artists.
NW: Briefly share with us some of your past exhibitions appearance and are you considering showing your works at upcoming exhibitions or fairs within Africa?
Omonus: I have participated in several exhibitions both solo, group exhibitions and also exhibited some works virtually. I have also organized exhibitions for young artists, showcasing their creativity, host artist talks and hangouts for artists.
Currently, I am planning a solo exhibition with Agama Art Publishing & Agency and am also open to other organizations (galleries) for exhibition or any collaboration.
NW: From a technical point, what’s integral to the work you do and how do you stay inspired?
Omonus: My environment and life, in general, motivate most of my paintings coming from my childhood drawing, I now find ways of bringing my drawings when I was a child on canvas and make them more beautiful and colorful, Also I get inspired by other Artist palettes which are represented in my works. Artworks are created from what the artist sees using his palette to represent them (ideas or stories) on canvas.
NW: What is your guiding artistic statement?
Omonus: “There is no painting without drawing and there is no shape without line, in the end, all images can be reduced to lines”.
NW: What advice would you give artists that look up to you now?
Omonus: Keep creating, keep showcasing, keep doing you, and remember you are a master. Everything around you matters, your work defines you and gives you that uniqueness in the art world.
Mingle with other artists, collaborate with organizations, and exhibit from time to time.
There are several artists within and outside the country doing wonders, you will feel pressured into succeeding as a young artist. It’s a difficult spot to be in: you put your heart and soul into every piece and then have to share it with an art world that can be highly critical, using completely subjective standards and these doubts will corrode your self-confidence until there’s nothing left. The deeper you dive into your art career, the more opportunities are there for you. I have found value in my art and I am succeeding already.