Visual Art

IyunOla Sanyaolu: My Art is Driven Towards Finding Calm in Chaos

Awarded the female Visual Artist of the year 2018, from the Department of Creative Arts, University of Lagos, where she studied painting. IyunOla Sanyaolu is one artist who has evolved from the creative cocoon of the Nigerian artistic scene. Experimenting with various mediums, she has been able to depict that art has the ability to transform moods and emotions, whilst possessing abstract meanings to each individual or audience.

“My art explores the path of what message wants to be passed through me, because i know there is so much potential in this being. With this enigma, i explore the oil medium and spray paint, texture, colors, movements whilst being influenced by my culture, heritage, environment and thoughts,” IyunOla explains.

Hamid Ayodeji presents the excerpts:

Hi, when did you develop interest in Art?

I can’t really put a time to that, but I know it has been of interest to me for a very very long time.

What medium do you prefer and how did you come to use it as your primary one?

I really enjoy the oil medium, And I think it’s because of how flexible the medium is. It doesn’t dry quickly so I can cross my T’s , dot my I’s and later decide to uncross my T’s and undo my I’s. I have used other known mediums but I prefer Oil for now because I don’t know what medium I might experiment with next.

How long have you been making money off your artworks?

That would be for 3 years now

IyunOla Sanyaolu

Do you have any advice for someone who is aspiring to be a successful artist?

Before the advice, I’ll ask them if they truly have passion for the profession. And if they do, that means no matter the obstacle, they’ll keep striving for success. So they should try as much to avoid being heavily influenced by opinions of others and express what they genuinely want to express. Study more in other to develop the skill and find opportunities to put yourself more out there.

How would you describe your type of art?

My style of art drives towards expressionism, and that’s because it shows the emotional experience rather than the physical. So every color, movement and the likes is an out pour of inner feelings and ideas.

How do you know when it is time to curate?

My moods depict most of it, when angry, when sad, happy…or I have an ongoing project that isn’t going too well for me and I want to correct it. Sometimes, I’m just curious.

IyunOla Sanyaolu
Via @iyunola

How do you measure the amount of value you attach to your artworks?

Different factors affect this and that includes cost of materials, the idea, one’s experience, time . . . There is more but these are majors I can pick out.

How would you describe the current situation of art as a business, whereby artists get value or more for their creations in the country?

Of recent times, the art industry in Nigeria has taken a very good turn. It is more appreciated home and abroad. It’s an encouragement and makes it a more promising profession. Opportunities and recognition pour in from the overseas and that shows growth.

What sort of influence has your environment had over your Art works?

My environment is pretty polluted, and I don’t mean in its rational meaning alone. My art is an escape to these things. It is driven towards finding calm in the chaos.

IyunOla Sanyaolu

You emerged as the female visual artist of the year 2018, from the Department of Creative Arts, University of Lagos, how has that impacted the direction and value of your art works?

Getting that recognition is an encouragement. Like we see what you do, keep up the good work type of encouragement and has driven me to keep up my good work and want to strive to achieve my goal.

Recently you exhibited your artworks during the RMB Graduate Artists Program, which featured your pieces, alongside cu-rations by the likes of Akintomide Aluko, Ayanfeoluwa Olarinde, Washington Mosadioluwa, to mention a few; how has this experience impacted your journey thus far as an artist?

This was a mind blowing experience for me as being handpicked shows they believe in me and that has made me believe in myself more!

Considering how much influence emotions have over the creation of Art, which of the emotions will you say drives you the most to create?

I would say, hunger for more, if that can be classified as an emotion. My curiosity to know and learn and also the urge to say something.

If any, what are the challenges you come across as a creative, in this part of the world?

Definitely, finding opportunities. The opportunities available in this part of the world are too little to cater for the growing artists. To be specific, art residencies and fellowships. Something I really want to participate in, but because of the very few opportunities, I am forced to search abroad.


Photographed by: Hamid Ayodeji

Visual Art

Blossoming Nigerian Artistic Scene

The blossoming of Nigerian artists and their artworks is something that cannot be undermined by the country’s slow but steady developing social economy, as we have witnessed the emergence of art pieces which showcases the nations enormous creativity and cultural strength.

With the likes of Ken Nwadiogbu, Zara Medudgu, Isimi Taiwo, Kareen Olamilekan, John Israel, Sly, Dennis Osadebe, IyunOla Sanyaolu and so many more blossoming into the scene, Nigerian Youths continue to play the lead role in the evolution of the artistic world as they flourish into what can be described as a butterfly that once was a cocoon.

According to a Nigerian, Abuja based artist Zara Medugu, “I think living in Nigeria has given me the avenue for contrast in my art. I do a lot of nudes, abstracts and cartoon like stuff, but that is not really the norm in terms of what you see when you go to most galleries or show.

“I am happy with the way I paint, but I know it is not what people expect, so sometimes I get discouraged. But at the same time it has allowed me to value what I do more, where I show my art and how much my art is worth. It has allowed me to look inwards more and stand solid in my
decisions as an artist, as well as allowing me to connect with a genuine

The multidisciplinary artist, during an email interview with describes her art as abstract with a usual use of colors, cartoon like figures, or something a little off: “I dabble in a lot of mediums, but my primary focus is painting. My subject is always really simple, but what I focus on in the painting gives it that odd constant that’s in all my work.

“I might paint a body, but the focus is the rolls or something else that seems irrelevant but makes up more of the visual story than the nude body. I give you pieces of a whole and never restrict the
meaning to what I was feeling at the time. Pink might mean love to someone, but
I have used it to mean confusion and loss.

“I love that everyone is expressing their creative side and it is more acceptable to venture into that. You can talk to someone who read a really strict course but is actually super into fashion or art and gets to do that now.

“However, I do not like that it has become two things; busy work and very political. I mean busy work in the sense that when people are not finding jobs or are not making as much money as they want; they
get into art to attract money rather than to create art, which confuses buyers and audiences.

“In a place like Nigeria where art is everywhere; but being an artist (or creative) has just become a viable path,
which is not allowing people who want to live off art to do so. It is over
saturating the market.

“It is hard to find platforms and avenues that
promote you rather than profit off of you. In the sense of it being political,
it’s become a situation where whoever has more money, more clout or more
connections seem to dominate the scene and already make it this exclusive and cliquey
sphere, while others are looking for an opening.


The 23 years old Artist further explained that: “WE NEED MORE PLATFORMS THAT AREN’T JUST COMPETITIONS! I think opening an art school, a residency program or providing more jobs within certain
spheres for artists is a step forward. Teach practical things in addition to
history and theories. Get an actual graphic designer to create posters, not
just someone who knows how to work a computer. Stop taking shortcuts and get
someone who has the actual skills to carry out what you want done. A lot of
artists and creative’s don’t know their worth because there’s always someone
willing to undermine them with a lower price or someone willing to price down
their work because they’re not as known as someone else. Artists work in tech,
in branding, in architecture, in all aspects of business and life. Hire one and
pay them.

Meanwhile, John Israel describes his art as an avenue to value and explore every form of
medium he comes in contact with, as his art requires the study of facial
features and figures, land and sea space, stylized.


“I would say commercialization is taking over
the Nigerian Art scene, and Nigerian artist are losing out their authenticity
in production. In simple terms; most young artist are after what is marketable
rather than staying true to their ideas.


“I think the government can put up grants and I expect to see more art residences within the country and also partner with neighboring countries on art residences and art exhibitions/projects. Even going for art seminars in other countries, fully funded,” Israel expressed.

Hamid Ayodeji @hamidayodeji for @theparakeetshow