Can you tell us a bit about your background please?
— I am Talut Kareem, I am Lagosian, I was born and raised in Lagos. Art for me started as a passion. As a kid I would always draw, even when my teacher would give me an assignment I would always draw figures in it. Today I am grateful that I decided to pursue art professionally. I have studied Mass Communication in college but felt it was not the right choice for me, so I decided to go to Art School at the University of Lagos. The training there, although self-developed, was both practical and theoretical and we learnt Art History, both African and European. I majored in sculpture and created sculptural works in iron and clay as well as in wood. At that time, I was not painting yet, then I started later and my painting skills are self-taught.
“I was a pencil artist, that was my special skill. I used it as a form of therapy as at that time I was going through a depression and felt the need to put my feelings on a paper.”
So how did your painting practice come about?
— After my schooling, I got my studio and I started to get inspired by the people around me. Before I started to paint though, I was drawing in black and white. I was a pencil artist, that was my special skill. I used it as a form of therapy as at that time I was going through a depression and felt the need to put my feelings on a paper. I disconnected from people and blurred out the faces of the subjects in my drawings. That work was very personal to me, I mainly used it to reflect my own reality.
How are people in Nigeria reacting when you tell them you are an artist?
— Nowadays, it has improved but before people would not take it seriously. My parents for example, it was a lot for them to take in that I had decided on this career path. They thought it was a waste of time.
How did you go from drawing in black and white to the introduction of colours in your practice and the spherical shapes that we now see in your more recent work?
— That actually came out of the need of being able to be flexible. I experimented and out of that came the colours and spherical shapes. I have always wanted to introduce colours into my practice, as I don’t want to get stuck in a box. What techniques I use depend a lot of what type of mood I am in and what my source of inspiration is at the time. I reflect the things that influences me in my art.
Can you talk about the pieces that are included in this exhibition?
— I was part of the protests (The End SARS). That whole period was joyous to me as it had been a long time coming and it was an eye opener for every youth in Nigeria. That was the first time, apart from football, an event brought young people together, joint for the same cause. What was important for me as an artist in relation to that, was to portray the unity amongst the people of Nigeria. The togetherness of the youth of Nigeria, how we defend each other and how we are there for each other.
What are your hopes for the future of Nigerian art?
— My hopes for the future are that Nigerian art starts to get the recognition it deserves right here in Nigeria. That the art community here starts to appreciate Nigerian artists.
“As a kid I would always draw, even when my teacher would give me an assignment I would always draw figures in it.”
Because you as a Nigerian artist gain more appreciation abroad, in Europe and the US than you do in Nigeria?
— Yes, I am speaking for the young artists now though, because the older and established ones get more appreciation. I just hope that in time we young Nigerian artists will get the same feedback here as we already get abroad.
Born in 1994 in Lagos, Nigeria
Based in works in Lagos, Nigeria
Selected Group Exhibitions & Fairs: (2020) Conversations, Nosa Creatives, Lagos, Nigeria, Latitudes Art Fair, Online Sales Exhibition, Sublime: Between Solid and Vapor. Rele Art Gallery (2018) Next of Kin, Thought Pyramid Art Centre, Lagos, Nigeria
Artist Residence: Young Contemporaries, 3x3x3 Artists in Residence.