Abinoro Akporode Collins was born in Delta State Nigeria. He had his early education in the same town before moving to the School of Art and Design, Auchi Polytechnic Auchi in Edo State Nigeria. He had his National Diploma (ND) in painting and general art in 2009 and graduated with a higher national diploma (HND) in sculpture in 2012 as the overall best-graduating student.
Inspired by his father’s belief that artists are less successful in life, he is driven to make his art count and use it as a universal language of communication, documentation, education, and peace.
Collins is a prolific painter and sculptor who draw inspiration from his environment, from human to animal figures, often trying to convey human experience and deep soul content in his art. His immediate everyday life is always a subject of his work using it to pass deep messages and issues.
He exhibited in the grand finale of the Life in My City Competition 2013 in Nigeria. His artworks were exhibited at the Africa art month in Abu Dabhi, United Arab Emirates. And the Historical festival residency in Abu Dhabi, UAE organized by ArtHub. His work was also exhibited at the Abu Dhabi International Art Fair 2014 in UAE
Webteam@Ipledge2nigeria caught up with him at the International Designers and Designs Conference IDDC 2023 held at Oriental Hotel in Lekki, Lagos. In this interview, he talks about his kind of art, the art industry and other issues
How would you describe your kind of art?
I have been into full-time studio art. I am popularly known for the use of cutleries as the base measurement art practice. I describe it as the form of repurposed material in art as what you have and what you find recycling, in recycling you bring back a discarded material but with repurposed materials, you simply give in further value to materials.
How long have you been an artist professionally?
I have done 10 years in practice professionally
How would you rate the Nigerian art industry? Is it very viable?
The art Industry is fast growing and what we have now is quite very encouraging, I grew up in a time when people were really proud to want to identify themselves as an artist. A lot of people are coming into the industry. We also have the gallery from the art dealers and of course the collectors. So it actually fast growing and it’s really good
What about challenges, how have you been able to cope?
I think in terms of appreciation for my opinion art is actually for the elite it is not something you want to change because art is something of value. Value begins from a personal perception of valuable things.
We still have a whole lot of education to give to people. People still have to learn because, for a long time, artwork has been sort of perceived as something satanic from a religious angle. A lot of churches world discourage their members from having sculptures in their homes because they feel there’s some sort of spiritual connotation which of course is false.
If you look at the art pieces that were stolen from Africa, religion will tell you they are demonic and then the early missionaries encourage their people to steal more of our artwork which is still in their museum. Some of our pastors travel to London and visit the London Museum and see the same pieces you are burning back home, so it is a sort of a Brian wash situation where people have no respect or value for what they have.
Currently, there’s a battle to return to the artefacts that were stolen, the Benin artefacts and all others that were stolen. Some are being returned, however, some are still in the process of being returned. I always tell people that as we fight for the stolen artworks to be returned, we need to protect those we have here in our local towns and communities. In our kingdoms, we have a whole lot of artefacts that are still being demonized, how about creating policies that will sort of protect these artefacts from being destroyed for whatever reasons? So I think we still need a lot of education many people need to be educated on the value and relevance of art to society and culture
Do you think the Nigerian government is doing enough to promote the art Industry?
Not at all, I think the challenge with the government is not just about art it’s in every Factset of society. As Nigerians for example I think there is a struggle for young artists when they leave school and they are trying to start a career, there is no funding, and there are no grants put in place to help younger artists graduate from school. The government should be able to provide a set of services, a kind of fund or grants to enable young artists. It should be a base for them to start practice.
There are no purpose studios to encourage young people who are just leaving school and want to have a career. Most artists need studio spaces to begin career practice.
Also, the educational system still faces challenges in getting current information resource materials to properly educate art students about the relevance of art to society, the community, science and to every facet of society.
So the government has to do a lot. Also, there are no policies that protect environmental sculpture in Nigeria. A couple of years back Lagos state embarked on a project to develop a lot of environmental sculptures so if you were in Lagos five years ago you would have seen a couple of those environmental sculptures put in place. All of a sudden a lot of them were demolished completely for no reason. If the government had to relocate them there are processes, they are supposed to undergo to have them to other locations. The government needs to build a lot of policies to protect our arts.
As a young artist, how did you cope with all these challenges at that time before you became established?
I am a very curious person so I was lucky to search for information early enough while I was an art student. I was able to build a sort of dream of how I want my art career to be like. I search for information. I didn’t limit myself to information in my immediate environment.
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