The artist places black models in nature to create thought-provoking art
An island-based artist hopes his new exhibition will inspire art lovers to look at life differently.
Niyi Adeogun’s latest exhibition features portraits of black people mixed with nature scenes.
The artist, who relocated to Prince Edward Island from Nigeria in 2016, said the pieces in his new exhibition feature black people in a scene where their worth and beauty take center stage.
“Especially black people … have not been shown to be valued,” Adeogun said.
“I’ve tried to change that narrative … I’ve tried to make it the center of my creation so I can express the value that I see and the value that God has in people.”
Adeogun said he started graphic design in 2017 before transitioning into “more serious” art in 2019.
As he has grown as an artist, so has his style, which includes many images of nature.
“I played a lot with flowers and birds,” Adeogun said. “I try to blend nature, try to blend objects that are naturally pleasing and visually pleasing to the eye, and try to fuse that with a person’s image.”
While this is Adeogun’s first exhibition this year, he has done other exhibitions in the past and has also done murals in Toronto.
He said his style was heavily influenced by photo composition and imagery.
“I’m trying to create something that looks realistic, but it’s still out of this world.”
belief and value
Adeogun said he has many inspirations for his work, but his Christian faith and values play an essential role.
“It doesn’t matter what skin color you have… it doesn’t matter what you look like. What matters is what’s on the inside,” Adeogun said. “So I’m trying to use that idea to explain some form of value in my work.”
Adeogun said a common problem for him has been accessing resources to create and exhibit his art.
He says while things have gotten better and there are programs designed specifically for newcomers, he’s still had to rein in some of his artistic ambitions.
“Often I have to do what I wanted to do like a watered-down version,” Adeogun said.
Adeogun’s latest exhibition opens Saturday at the Salvador Dali Café in Charlottetown and runs through April 21.
For more stories about Black Canadians’ experiences—from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community—see Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.