Collins Obijiaku’s work is a celebration of identity: the faces of his figures, imprinted with numerous contours, are redolent of the impressions made by the papillary ridges of our hands. Obijiaku plays with the signifiers that makes us distinguishable from others through a skilled use of emotional cartography; by mapping human expression so powerfully, he opens up vistas of artistic opportunity.
Collins Obijiaku displays his versatility and virtuosity as an artist by working to a high standard with oil, acrylic, watercolour and pastel paints, as well as with charcoal. His portraits are populated with powerful, confident and effortlessly elegant figures - sometimes loved ones, sometimes complete strangers. Obijiaku pays particular attention to the clothes worn by these figures, choosing to view fashion choice as a key component of ones personality, a further expression of individuality. He also embraces digital space and wants his subjects to exist beyond the ephemeral physicality of the present, to leak into the boundless eternity of collective digital spaces.
The following is taken from an interview Obijiaku gave to independent writer and curator Tawanda Appiah: “I see my art as a way of celebration, expression and as a means of showing my identity on paper or canvas. I’ve always liked to draw and paint. I started out with animation, cartoons and the like. In 2016, I noticed that I was improving, and I started to look at artworks online. This inspired me to pursue a career in art. I feel free doing it, and it brings me relief. Making art is where I go when I want to feel good.”
“I started using oil paints in 2019. I was into hyperrealism at the time, but I wasn’t feeling very free doing it. Here in Nigeria, a lot of young artists are visually drawn to hyperrealism. I think it’s just eye-catching, but it involves too many rules. There is a certain way you have to do things, there is this, and you have to do that. I didn’t always want to follow the rules. I wanted to explore. So I started mixing different mediums to see if I could come up with something different, something that could actually capture what I wanted to capture: black skin. Something that could bring out a lot of blackness in my works. I started exploring, and I came up with what I have now.”
Obijiaku was born in Kaduna state, Nigeria, August 23rd, 1995, and currently lives and works in Abuja. He has exhibited as part of the Coal CIty Art Exhibition in Enugu, Nigeria, 2017; Resurgence of Expression at the National Gallery of Arts, Enugu, Nigeria, 2017; and Exploring Nigeria - Korea Visuals at the Korean Cultural Center, Abuja, Nigeria, 2017.