FAD caught up with the artist Wahab Saheed ahead of his first European exhibition at Carl Koystal in Sweden.
Can you tell us a bit about your art practice?
In recent years, my work as an artist is to not be afraid to question the normal sensibility of the human condition, my concept borders around inspiration from my own experiences, existence and immediate environment including people who occupy those spaces, exploring mediums like oil, acrylic and even the one I feel most confident with charcoal. I continue to investigate more avenues to express myself and to be more open to greater possibilities as much as possible.
How has COVID affected your work/life?
2020 was a hard year to stay positive, I lost loved ones, and the lockdown really messed with my mental health, to watch the government hoard palliatives meant for its citizens, all these situations contributed to my state of mind as I approached my canvas with a lot of bottled up emotions. My works for that period of time was introspective as I highlighted myself mostly in self portraits in dark and low lit charcoal drawings, making me more productive than I’ve ever been. I still have the same mentality focusing my feelings to create work to create positivity.
Lots of people have told us about the crazy energy of Lagos – what’s it like living and working in a city of 15+ million?
It’s just so crazy and filled with enthusiasm as you’ve said cars blowing loud horns, the weather is always hot, the time to create is what always comes with refreshment because that moment I tend to not exist in my present space but in the one I’ve created and all those thoughts and noise vanish.
We hear you have an up & coming exhibition at the super cool Carl Kostyal in Stockholm – how did that happen?
Honestly, till this present moment, I’m still awed as at how fast it happened which seems more like a divine intervention, but it’s all thanks to Benjamin (A Glorious Obsession Art Advisory) for always believing in my practice, showing people my works including Carl Kostyál who offered me a show.
There seems to be a lot of figurative work coming out of Africa – how do you keep what you do fresh?
It has always been here and it will continue to be as long as it’s how best to describe our emotions physically on canvas. I keep what I do fresh by clearing my mind off any distractions if it means me taking a break from painting. So when I come back to the studio there’s a fresh pair of eyes to carry on.
Do you listen to music when you paint? and if you do what are you listening to at the moment?
Music plays a huge role in contributing to the outcome of a particular project, I love to listen to afro-beats during the day to keep my energy level pumped, while in the evening I opt for more serene tunes like jazz or pop. I’m currently listening to Passenger’s “songs for the drunk and broken hearted”
What have you been watching and reading recently?