Interview with Ndidi Dike

You work with many mediums Peju, which is your favorite medium to work with and why?

I work with any medium that is useful in executing any particular idea or project. For now, I am enjoying experimenting with fiberglass, it’s the new marble. When Fiberglass is used with other materials the result can be amazing.

The use of many mediums of expression may imply you have not found your core in a particular medium or you are confused by the options available to you. Do you agree with this?

I disagree. I am an artist that is not defined by what medium I use, therefore it is irrelevant to me to find a core in any particular medium. It is tedious to deny myself the knowledge gained in experimentations. I do not know how many years of career practice I get in this life time so I want to absorb so much pleasurable experiences. I am centered on the philosophy of my art and whatever I require to relate this philosophy I will use. If I need words to create an idea, I will use words. If I need to sew pieces of fabrics together for a new project, I will not become a tailor for that and yet I will produce works using colors of fabrics as I would use acrylic paint, and so on.

How much do critiques influence/affect your work?

Art critiques have very little influence on my work. In Nigeria we have few qualified and certified art critiques, yet we have numerous individuals who assert their voices as most relevant in the art industry. It is difficult to take most of them seriously. Art critiquing is so relative and limiting to the critique’s understanding, exposure and personality. A few times I am challenged by the reviews I get. I honestly want to give the best that I can.

Why do you refer to your writing as a medium in visual art?

I would not say writing and authorship solely belong to literary arts neither is it defined by it. The graphic details of writing are not its singular connection to the visuals either. I use words as I would any other material for work but I am aware words may not be accepted as tangible material form. I use words to access the mind of a reader or listener and create images within them. Figuratively, the mind becomes a work surface and words give colors and textures and endless possibilities creating images in the mind.

Why Artist and not Architect?

An architect is an artist, I am both. Architecture is the science of art and I am able to apply some of it’s principles in my work. I may not be practicing architecture in the traditional sense but the influences of Architecture are evident in a lot of my designs. Studying Architecture gave me a discipline that the fine arts could not, but I was an artist before studying architecture so it may seem inevitable to remain an artist. Like I had mentioned earlier, my philosophy is more significant to me than the differences in genres of the Arts.

What is your philosophy to Art?

I make people see, this is my philosophy. I make people see through my own eyes and experiences. I am like a piece of glass that enhances the onlooker’s view; like looking through colored glass or concave/ convex lens or a window. I have learned to see fascinating possibilities in ordinary objects and I have learned to use my life experiences gained to recreate these objects as mediums of expression. A person may see an object as a piece of wood but I see beautiful grain-lines, color, possible shapes and possible uses. It is always my desire to create and recreate. Now you may ask why I think what I see is important or relevant; and my answer is Art is relevant to advanced culture as a key element to “enlightenment”, hence the role of an artist is relevant to advance culture.

“The proudest achievement of an advanced culture lies in its capacity to cultivate individuals with an understanding of life and of the world that is both broad and deep…. An understanding of life that is broad and deep can’t be achieved accidentally. It requires many things: a knowledge of history, insight into the heart and soul, an understanding of the natural world, and—the arts, which can encompass all of these other things and bring home their significance and importance. ”

What makes you think your Art can fulfill your desires?

Art is an avenue to make thoughts into tangibles and ideas into realities. I close  my eyes and I dream things that art help me birth. My desire is to make beautiful things that often times channel discussions and art most definitely helps me achieve this.

Are there any artist living or dead that influence the style and techniques you work with?

My elder brother Biodun was the first artist I ever met and I tried to paint like him all through my childhood. David Dale’s charcoal drawings and beaded paintings, I found most fascinating as a teenager and I copied him too. Rembrandt’s use of light on his subjects I study to date. He is my Lord of the Art.

Coming from an emerging nation, what are the positive challenges for a practicing artist?

At first, I struggled with being accepted as an artist and the lack of opportunity to practice. Then there were limited material sources and resources, which was the most frustrating. There was just one supplier of art materials in the country, they had just one shop, I had to travel miles to get an overpriced tube of paint.  I learned to appreciate every moment I get to work and earned my title as an Artist. I learned to work with what was available; nothing is waste or wasted in an artist’s studio here in Nigeria. This is where I learned to see possibilities in many objects. This is where my philosophy as an artist is relevant. Many people here are hungry for the experiences of art and high-culture due to depravity from mediocrity. It is easier to be a big fish in a little pond (I will not complain), but with enough hard work and dedication an artist can live respectably. I will always have a job in Nigeria.

Peju, is Art a passion or an obsession?

Both. Art is my religion and my work is my praise. I know little else and I am aware of the lack of balance between my work and other aspects of life but I care little. Everything about me is art and I breathe art. I could be nothing but an artist. I am extremely passionate about what I do. The opportunity the Art industry gives is ceaseless. It cultivates the mind and soul if only you allow it to. By nature I am an insufferable pessimist (I may exaggerate) but with Art there are endless possibilities.