“Art According to…” is my attempt to unveil the works of talented contemporary artists in various fields of creative arts. An Alfred North Whitehead once said that “Great art is more than a transient refreshment. It is something which adds to the permanent richness of the soul’s self-attainment.” Art goes beyond that which we see. It spawns from the depth of the soul. It speaks volumes visually. We appreciate it as it influences every fiber of our being.
“African art is functional; it serves a purpose. It’s not dormant. It’s not a means to collect the largest cheering section. It should be healing, a source, a joy. Spreading positive vibrations.” ― Mos Def
Art justifies itself both by its immediate enjoyment and also by its discipline of the inmost being. Its vocation is not distinct from pleasure, but because of it, purpose and reason ensue. It transforms the soul into the permanent realization of values extending beyond its former self.” In my quest to find artists, a grade school or primary school friend of mine, Ijeoma Momoh (nee. Nwigwe), introduced me to a friend of hers and a fellow artist, Mr. Chamberlin Ukenedo.
Chamberlin is from Njaba in Imo State, Nigeria’s Eastern parts from the Igbo Tribe. Chamberlin uses his art as a voice to speak about the environment he lives in―not just for himself but for everyone, including the disenfranchised and marginalized. Art to him can be a political tool, which he vividly portrays via his paintings and drawings. Chamberlin’s perception and ability to depict human emotions’ complexities firmly set him ahead of the curve. He is a versatile career artist who works as an illustrator, painter, cartoonist, and art director. He completed his Higher National Diploma (HND) in Painting at the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) in Enugu State and has participated in various exhibitions. He also currently works with Ogilvy Advertising Agency.
Today, Oaekpost has the token privilege of interviewing this enterprising contemporary African Artist. As we go through the interview, we present some of his select works so that we can catch a glimpse of his creative genius.
Oaekpost (OP): What motivates you to do arts?
Chamberlin Ukenedo (CU): Motivation for art was passion.
OP: What’s integral to the work of an artist?
CU: Ability to identify, challenge and bring your imagination to life. Sometimes you allow it to tell its story (impulse), sometimes deep with a concept.
OP: What themes do you pursue?
CU: My themes are primarily based on socio-political issues. My environment influences me a lot.
OP: What role does the artist have in society?
CU: The artist from ancient or pre-historic times has been one of the vehicles to document man, his people, his behavior, and his environment.
OP: What art do you most identify with?
CU: Visual art, paintings, illustrations, sculptures, and filmmaking.
OP: What’s your scariest experience?
CU: Apart from stage fright, I don’t think I have any.
OP: What’s your favorite artwork?
CU: I apply so much passion and energy to create every piece. They are all unique. That’s why I don’t have a favorite.
OP: Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
CU: Activities on the street inspire me. I see stories on almost every face I encounter on the street. I tell the stories in my own way and my own medium.
OP: What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
CU: Everything I do for a living is art-related except that I have grown to become an advertising executive, which involves marketing with visuals. I also teach in an Advertising School as a Dean of Studies.
OP: Why art?
CU: Art chose me. Even before I was born.
OP: What is an artistic outlook on life?
CU: An artistic outlook on life is to create lasting impressions and contribute to change in humanity.
OP: What memorable responses have you had to your work?
CU: Art imitates life…life imitates Art.
OP: What food, drink, song inspires you?
CU: I am eclectic when it comes to music. My inspiration comes when I am absent-minded.
OP: Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
CU: Because an artist thinks differently, or he is a non-conformist doesn’t make his life lonely.
OP: What do you dislike about the art world?
CU: The emerging clique of collectors. You have to be exceptionally good to crack them beyond viewing art as self-expression.
OP: What do you dislike about your work?
CU: There’s no dislike about my work. I just don’t fancy copying or reproducing my work.
OP: What do you like about your work?
CU: It says a lot about my person.
OP: Should art be funded?
CU: Not necessarily. I improvise research and experiment without banking on funds.
OP: What role does arts funding have?
CU: Every artist needs tools to work with. Residency for the artist will also require funding.
OP: What research do you do?
CU: I read a lot. I monitor events, trends, and human behavior. My research extends to finding new media, which I currently work on digital and coffee mixed media.
OP: What is your dream project?
CU: To create a character, icon, or monument that will cheat death. Something to be remembered for.
OP: Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
CU: Me, Me, Me.
OP: Favorite or most inspirational place?
CU: My room.
OP: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
CU: The best piece of advice I have gotten is to stay focused and believe that art is all about self-expression.
OP: Professionally, what’s your goal?
CU: My professional goal is to create art pieces that can stand the test of time and be celebrated.
Chamberlin’s artwork is evolving. He is delving into various kinds of media. Practice, they say, makes perfect. He is perfecting his craft, and we might yet see him again here on Oaekpost. We will delve into more of his artworks and learn from him on his creative and artistic evolutionary journey.
It is an honor having him for this interview here on Oaekpost. We appreciate him for taking the time to do this interview. For further questions and comments, please use the comment section below.