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Abisola Gbadamosi On The Profound Power Of Art

Abisola Khadijat Gbadamosi or you can call her ‘AKG’ is a multidimensional expressionist and artist. Hailing from Oyo state, Nigeria, she was born in  1995 in Lagos, Nigeria, and grew up between Lagos and London. The best way to describe her work is ethereal. 

I’m convinced that every stroke of watercolor is made with the intention that you feel something whether that’s joy, pain, grief, excitement, or even surprise. She expresses herself and her emotions through her art and shares that with the world.

Her exhibitions include Rele Art gallery, Nike Art gallery, Oasis lounge MMA, Miniature art fair, and so on.

Hi Abisola, How are you doing today? 

Hi, I’m doing well thank you. I’m currently in my studio so it should be fine

You mentioned your roots in art in a “check me out” interview, it’s inspiring, if you could go back in time, what would you change in your journey, are there any things you would do differently? If you could travel to the future too, what would you like to see as regards your art? 

I’ll be honest, there was a point in my life when I genuinely did want things to change especially after losing my parents at a young age and facing some odd challenges I personally don’t think children should endure. I used to pray to bring back what I had lost but now I’m at a stage of acceptance of all things good and bad because it made me who I am today. That sounds cliche but you get to a point where you look back and see God’s protection and love rather than being blinded by the pain.

With regards to doing things differently, I would have definitely believed in myself a lot more rather than waiting for people to do that for me and would have been more compassionate towards myself.

My art has always been an expression of self, it also plays a huge role in my healing and spiritual journey.  In this current phase of my reality, I only hope in the future it inspires young women and men to evolve beyond what life offers, to be free from the shackles we placed on ourselves, especially our minds, and most importantly to express and embrace their emotions for what they truly are. Everything after that is just a cherry on top.

You once described your art as euphoric, enchanting, and vibrant noting that you haven’t showcased the dark side of your art, would you say the same now? What has changed with your art from when you started and where you are now? And what has been like to evolve as an artist? 

Fundamentally I’m a creative expressionist but I’ve also come to understand that I’m also infinite therefore I don’t identify with anything by self and by self I mean source/divine energy within. I’ve recently been more open about my battles especially with depression and anxiety because I felt that was the only way I could truly be free. Most of my artworks were created during a very deep heavy phase in my life.

Funny enough, I would consider the majority of my artwork as ‘dark’ because of the creative stage but the outcome always sheds a bit of light or insight on the ‘reason’ and that’s what I try and communicate with my audience.

In regards to if my art has evolved, it has. I’ve been creating since I was 3 but I only started pursuing it professionally in 2015. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to stick to a particular ‘art style’, my art style changes as my consciousness evolves. Usually, when I’m creating I’m in a state of ‘flow’. I think this also reflects in my internal self-image so I would say my paintings have definitely changed over the past years and will continue to do just that.

Pablo Picasso once said ‘everyone is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up’. To be an artist, you must be ready to look darkness in the eye and accept that it’s your reflection; not many people are ready to do that. Artists are tortured souls, tortured by our own demons until we learn to sit with them.

You are into fashion designing, art directing, photography, gift curating, and design technology, alongside your art, how have you been able to balance it all? Where do you find the drive to do it all and what separates work from your hobbies/personal life? 

Most of the things you’ve mentioned have been over the course of 18 years so it’s not happening all at the same time, I’m currently working a couple of jobs and I went back to school a little minute ago and honestly the way I think I’ve balanced it all out is that when something new shows up, I try to be mindful and as organized as possible. I practice self-care to avoid burnout plus my friends help.

Growing up I never thought I was good enough so I worked twice as hard to prove that I was. I also have this desire to create a legacy my future children would be proud of and simultaneously make my parents proud wherever their souls may be. 

My dad taught me to be in service of others while my mum taught me to be compassionate. Their spirits and love drive me.

My hobbies became ‘work’ and my personal life is just filled with little pockets of joy. What I do is set boundaries around ‘work’ so it doesn’t get too overwhelming for me.

What challenges have you faced especially as a woman in your industry and what have been the highlights? 

As women, we are always challenged in some way in every system or society. If it’s not about the way we look, It’s about the way we speak. Someone out there always has an opinion of how we should or shouldn’t be. The hack is to understand that the only thought that matters is the one you feed into yourself. There is no doubt the creative industry does not leave much room for women.

I’ve had multiple experiences where myself as an artist or my creation was disrespected by both males and females in the industry to the point where I wanted to give up but I’ve also had multiple highlights that have kept me going.

The friends I’ve made along the way, the children I inspire, the way people embrace my art, and each moment where I step out of my comfort zone and make myself proud or when I finally finish a piece I told myself was too difficult; these are the highlights.

Every dream or reality comes with its good or bad moments, the bad moments teach you while the good moments keep you. I wish I could say I didn’t learn this the hard way but I later understood through healing that the only key to my peace of mind is to be at peace from within and tap into my femininity. I learned to speak my truth through creativity and I set boundaries where it needs to be.

As a female artist, how has technology impacted your art and what do you foresee as the next groundbreaking development for female artists, while also considering the role of innovation in enhancing art accessibility?

So far Technology allows me to share my ideas and connect with the masses. For transparency, I try as much as possible to not let technology (AI) influence my creative process. Even when I hopped into the NFT space, my work was still very much analogous.

I’m excited to see more female-led opportunities, grants, and shows.

Change is inevitable and I believe art education in Nigeria is starting to gain recognition.

You use your art for emotional healing from grief to body image, why do you think this is important and what other parts/stories of women would you like to explore more?

I’m a creative expressionist. Most of my artwork stem from personal experiences. My current series, ‘EMI NI: I AM’, is about healing inner child wounds because that is where I am in my current phase in life.

Every woman is different but we share the same fundamental values. I’ve come to realize most of us women were ‘conditioned/ programmed’ to be a certain way and I’d like to highlight the mental and physical health implications such as depression and PCOS.

I feel it’s also important to highlight that when we share our pain/stories we feel a little less alone and we help the next person get through theirs.

Emotions can hinder you or help you. It’s your choice on ‘where and how’ to channel that emotion/energy.

What are some of your favorite things and activities, what do you enjoy?

Okay, I definitely don’t have a favorite. I like to think I’m an ambivert. There are moments when I love getting lost in a good book by the beach or doing yoga or heading down to the arcade to tap into my inner child or cooking something new or planning a staycation or being on the phone with my girlie to an unhealthy amount of hours or trying a new place. I think at this point, I realize I like my ‘little pockets of joy/happy moments’ but if I was going to pick a fav, it’ll be the beach.

Find AKG on Instagram

Omotola Saba
Omotola Saba