Custodian Interview: Dennis Osadebe

Posted on


First things first, how do you feel on completing your first exhibition?

It’s always been my dream to have my art exhibited in a setting different from that of the traditional art gallery. So for this to be the first solo showing of my works, I’d say I feel honoured that my work was displayed in an alternative space such as that. It was fulfilling meeting and interacting with a new crowd, seeing them connect with my art and I had several great conversations. It is difficult to explain the feeling, honestly, it’s just always an honour. It’s given more reason to be a believer.


How did it come about?

As with every really dope thing, it starts with an idea. This is Diesel’s 2nd year in Nigeria and on reaching this anniversary they wanted to do something new to celebrate, coupled with the fact that the parent company ‘Only the Brave’ started a new campaign in Africa in which they collaborate with artists. It is aimed at helping promote talented artists in Africa. In addition, Diesel was launching their new collection in Nigeria and the collection had a lot of colour to it and this was in line with my paintings. To cut this unnecessarily long story short, Rele introduced the opportunity to me, we made the necessary arrangements and the rest was history.

ReLe is a relatively new gallery. Why did you then choose to connect with them of all the possible options?

Yes it is and they are already one the finest galleries in country because of what they stand for. Choosing to connect with them was easy, I wanted to work with the best and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to do that.

IMGL4797Tell us about your art background. How long have you been at this?

I started my art journey right after university, so I’d say about 3/4 years now. Prior to that I remember being a kid and always being fascinated by sketchpads not sketchpads but those ONWARD BIG exercise books converted into drawing books. I remember I had an art practical exam, where I drew a tree. I remember everyone including the tutor being fascinated by it- then I was only 8. I wouldn’t say this was what made me get into art because for the next 12 years I would not be as into art as I am today. However, looking back, all these moments were pivotal to my journey into art.

How have you gotten so good?

I thought to be an artist you had to be a genius but this is an 18th century idea. With hard work and determination to excel, I became better at my craft.

IMGL4809We know you’re a big Basquiat fan. Who else would you say your art has been derivative of?

Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, Fredrico Urbie, Chris Ofili, Kanye West, Jackson Pullock, Billie Zangewa, Banksy, Mandela, Sole Cisse, Jesus Christ, Quentin Tarantino… I could go on and on.IMGL4804

So what’s the inspiration and theme behind this collection? And what’s going to come next?

In essence, my art is about capturing the joys of being free. Freedom to be yourself, Freedom to express yourself, freedom to make mistakes, you know, being a kid again. I draw a lot of inspiration from a combination of factors from my childhood, such as for example cultural factors that influenced my lifestyle like growing up in an age that experienced a rise in multiculturalism, hip-hop, alternative media and because of the growth of technology that happened all of this was televised and I was able to experience it on a screen. So you remember those test patterns on cable television that came up while watching some dope ass episode of power rangers, those are the colours on my palette.

However, there is no particular theme behind this collection, it’s my subconscious creating messages or codes for my generation to give to the future. However, I like my paintings to retain a sense of the body, and the feeling of a physical relationship with the world so people can relate to it.
In terms of what is coming up next, I’d say is much more paintings and growth.

  • Share


  1. Tomi Idowu (@KingIdowu_) says:

    RT @MayowaIdowu: @takingCustody interview with@DennisO_ on his latest exhibition, his art background and influences

Share your hot takes