Nigerian artist Faith Gbadero represents a new breed of young artists of African descent using their canvas to explore realities, experiences and identities. Over the years, Faith has done works that consistently reference faith, spirituality, and religion. His work will easily bring to mind the works of great artists like Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, Leonardo DaVinci’s The Last Supper, and Rembrandt van Rijn’s The Return of the Prodigal Son. Faith is still in the early days of his career, but he has a promising future in the genre he’s inclined to explore.
Art is a tool for social commentary and discourse. It’s the expression of man’s feelings or thoughts.Faith Gbadero
Humanity has always sought out means to express itself and convey its desires, needs, and opinions to the world. It yearns for a reliable means of communication, which gave rise to language, dialogue, and, as time evolves, the arts.
American Modernist painter Georgia O’Keeffe said, “I found I could say things with colour and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way.” From the palaeolithic age to the axial age and right to this current dispensation, humans emerge each day across the world with different versions and forms of expression.
Unlike some schools of thought, art is not an entirely Western ideology. The average African man is an embodiment of the arts. Visual arts, creative arts, sculpting, tribal arts, carvings, masks, paintings and lots more. Resources are also not a barrier for the African man to portray himself through art. There was an epoch when clay was used for moulding objects. From clay, there were wood carvings, paper maché, pen drawings, ironwork and so on. Art is an expansive field; today, we have digital arts and many more mediums of creating arts.
In this episode of The Creative Lane, we’ll be having a discourse with an artist born and bred in South-West Nigeria. A man who has been exposed to the world of art for over a decade and has explored the diverse facets of art creation.
Faith Ayooluwa Gbadero is a Nigerian visual artist, poet, and content creator. He believes it is important to express oneself, and that is exactly what art means to him — an expression of self. His goal is not just to create art as an absolute object of beauty but also as a piece of objective self-expression.
As a professional painter and draughtsman, his works reflect his environment and feelings. His subjects revolve around human figures, still-life objects, and landscapes. His works are aimed to capture the beauty and provide a medium of expression for his beliefs, thoughts, and environment.
In The King’s Spirit, Faith showcased the promise of a king to his citizens in the form of a royal seal to the relationship between the King and his citizens. This piece takes its cue from the trio of God, the Holy Spirit and the believer in the Christian religion. The Companion is a build-up to The King’s Spirit. He utilised the painting to show that communication is a reality in the kingdom. In Light Your World, as the name implies, Faith calls on everyone not to let the gifts and talents in them lie fallow but to burst forth and bless humanity. He says, “It’s pertinent to wake up each day to the consciousness that there’s a demand placed on your life. You’re not blessed, skilled, or gifted just for your sake but for the upbringing, development and building of men around you and the world at large. There are deposits of God in you that you need to engage and show forth.”
When not exploring faith, Gbadero’s works reflect African art as a subject of identity for the continent, capturing his subjects in different mediums such as charcoal, pastel, acrylic, and oil paints. This conversation between Faith and I captures his early years and journey through the creative world. It explores his work mode, the inspiration behind his arts, and the Nigerian society’s acceptance of artists.
You go by the pseudonym Fathom. What is Fathom?
Okay. Thank you for that question. FATHOM is a name I got for myself in 2014/15 when I wanted a nick and a brand name. Each of the letter(s) is an abbreviation of my name.
How long have you been in the creative industry?
I cannot remember vividly because I started drawing early but became very serious with art in 2015. I have always loved art and have been drawing and making crafts since primary school. As the masters say, all children are artists as they scribble their emotions and feelings on paper, but society tags their scribblings as jargon. I grew up with the gift of art, but the early training I got from a senior artist who loves my art encouraged and made me understand more about the art profession.
As a child raised in an African environment, what were your parents’ reactions to your passion when you started to take art seriously?
My parents believed in my skill and encouraged me from the start. However, they were initially scared of the future. They are at peace with it and are glad they did not discourage me from the career path.
What fuels you to create your pieces?
Many people believe that art is majorly about the creation of beauty, but art is more than the creation of beauty. The subject of beauty is relative to an individual depending on our aesthetic taste and value.
An artwork’s beauty is not only in its look but also in the artist’s intent and idea and the medium upon which the art is based.
Like, a tool in the hand of a mechanical engineer, art is also a tool to guide, correct, transfer, and process an ideology to the public. A professional artist knows that he is not just creating art for beauty’s sake but passing his ideas, messages, thoughts, and feelings on to the public.
Many different things inspire everyone; I would say that my inspiration is majorly the passion for feeding and educating the world with content regarding my faith, belief, and thoughts and also to propagate positive pieces of information/content.
So far, how many pieces have you created?
All sketches and demonstrations of an artist are artworks that carry great value because they depict his feelings and emotions at a particular time. I cannot number how many sketches I have made, but I can only make counting of the paintings I have done. So far, I have made more than 50 Paintings.
While going through your gallery, I noticed you seem quite taken by two things: nature and women. What inspires your kindness for these two entities?
Okay. That’s true. I mostly chose nature and African women as my subjects because these two entities are significant subjects of beauty in our society. My drawings and paintings often revolve around Africans, our environment, and our activities. This is majorly to project the beauty and value of our culture.
You are involved in quite a lot of things. Pen painting, paper collage, clay work, and many others. Which would you say is your major focus?
Oh, okay. As I have said earlier, I am a painter and draughtsman. I focus more on drawing and painting. But if it were not painting, it would have been sculpture because I love sculpture as an object of expression too. Most of the works you mentioned earlier are part of my term works while I was in school. Also, I need to say that an artist can be multi-dimensional based on the materials available at a particular time.
Most times, when you showcase your pieces, they are always accompanied by one poetry or the other. Do you write those poems?
Yes, I write my captions by myself because my captions communicate to the viewers in words the intent and the idea of the artwork. Also, sometimes, I use writings from my friends that complement the theme of my artwork.
You had a series #Pagefrommysketchpad. What inspired that move?
Oh, nice. The series #Pagesfrommysketchpad is a challenge I took on myself whereby I make a detailed drawing daily in my sketchbook and share a few pages of the drawings online.
A keen observer can see the theme of faith is all over your works. Is there a specific reason for that?
Yes, there is a reason for that. I am a Christian, and I am an ambassador of my faith. So, I do not share any work that goes against my faith. I believe many contents (images, texts, videos) are ungodly. So, I made a decision that I would continually send positive and edifying content to the world.
Have you won any recognition or prize for your works?
One of the notable recognitions I got is the ‘Titan in You’ creative challenge organised by Titan Trust Bank that I won last year.
Can you relive that experience(s) with us?
It was indeed a moment of joy. I was encouraged and further assured of great success in my chosen profession.
What can you say about the societal acceptance of artists in Nigerian society, especially in southwest Nigeria?
I must say that our society neither appreciates nor value our practice well enough. But, masters in the industry have done a great job and contributed their quota to ensure that the wrong notion created for artists is corrected in society. In this contemporary age, an average literate person knows that artworks are valuable pieces that can enrich a generation. This is a great leap from the days of pure ignorance, as acceptance these days is quite better.
What significance do your works have to the Nigerian cultural landscape?
I explore socio-cultural themes in my works to preach hope, love, courage, and sanity in our environment. My works are agents of socialisation that exhort sanity, morality, and human cultural values in our environment where social injustice and insanity reign. I capture light creatively in my art to bring forth life in my art and world where it seems men are products of all sorts of unpleasant situations around us: hence, my art also serves a therapeutic function.
Do you have anyone in this field who you admire for their works?
Yes. I admire several artists. Some of these include Pelumi Ponmile, Oguigo Edosa, Damilola Opedun, and Oluwole Omofemi.
What are some of the lessons you have learned during your creative journey?
I’ve learned the power of consistency, persistence, collaboration & networking with others in the creative industry. I’ve also realised that being unique with your styles, ideas, and theme is not bad. We all have different purposes for why we create art, and each of us has different personal inspirations that fuel our passion.