Wanting to get more out of our visit to Modé's art exhibit I jumped at the chance to get an interview with the young woman. She shared her thoughts with me about her come-up and how she feels about being an artist in Nigeria.
Toyin- How did you get into the world of art?
Modé– I’ve had an on and off relationship with painting throughout my life, in High school I took art as well as in A levels. I did it because I enjoyed it, never did I see it as an end goal. After taking IB I went to university in San Francisco and studied animation as well.
Toyin- What University did you attend?
Modé- Academy of Art. San Francisco is a very artsy place; I was inspired to start painting even more.
Toyin- So you drifted away from animation?
Modé- Yeah, exactly. While I was in San Francisco hanging out with my friends someone came up to us asking if any of us were artists that were interested in sharing some of our artwork at Union Square, and if so, that we should email him. I had some paintings that I sent him and they were shown at the exhibit, and my work received a lot of positive feedback. It was kind of a shock, I was surprised. My friends were also very supportive of me, and that gave me the boost to pursue it as a career
Toyin- Why did you move from San Francisco? What made you want to cultivate your artwork here in Nigeria? It sounds like you had a good support system there.
Modé- Not really, I’m a strong believer in starting off in your country before you expand. People will appreciate you more where you’re from, rather than those abroad. I’ve always been patriotic so that made me want to come back here. My family is my main support system, they made me stronger. Also it’s about pushing Nigeria forward. They haven’t seen artwork like mine before, I feel like my paintings are very impressionistic.
Toyin- Do you feel it has been hard getting started in Nigeria as an artist?
Modé- It’s been simpler but not easier. There is a struggle with the society. In San Francisco they’re open minded but here they have stronger views and opinions. Although they praise you for your work they are also very critical. You have to be careful. I get questions concerning the nudity in my paintings, but there are those that understand and embrace it. My art expresses how I’ve been brought up. It’s a mixture of ideas I’ve seen through my time living in four countries: Togo, England, the States and Nigeria. They all play a part in my artwork.
Toyin- Any words for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
Modé- That should be answered by someone that has accomplished a lot, It hasn’t been a year since I’ve started showcasing my work. I’m still getting on my feet, but I’ll just say work hard and believe in yourself because if you don’t believe in yourself no one else will.
I for one, think that Modé is off to a great start and can't wait to see what the future has in store for her. She will be, legen..wait for it....dary.