He is Chukwu Kennedy Obioma, CEO of Hy-KennyArts Studio. His display of talent through his artworks is out of this world. A very young, brilliant and outstanding personality who has refused to allow his environment to discourage him in anyway. His artworks are not just aesthetically pleasing and astonishing, but also artistic and awe-inspiring. Find out more about this award-winning painter/artiste in this exclusive interview with Jayinspire Media.
Kindly tell us about yourself.
My name is Chukwu Hyacinth-Kennedy Obioma. MD/CEO Hy-KennyArts Studio.
I am a Nigerian, a native of Abo, Ebikoro in Ikeduru LGA of Imo State. From a family of eight, my parents & five siblings. And I am a Christian. I have a bachelor’s degree in Fine and Applied Arts from Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, Anambra state, and I majored in Painting.
Your paintings are very aesthetic? Is it just a product of what you learnt in school or it is an inborn talent?
It’s a talent I think, because while growing up I noticed I could draw easily, and my education helped me develop/fine tune the talent.
How was life like growing up? Did you face any challenges in the course of trying to develop your career?
Like every other average Nigerian, life wasn’t really easy growing up. My parents were teachers and you know how it is with Nigerian government and non-payment of salaries, it actually was a challenge at some point, so it was a struggle.
I also faced some challenges while trying to develop the art, my family was supportive really, but where it was difficult was during the secondary school days when my school had no art teacher, so I had to study art on my own until my dad contracted a private art teacher during my SSCE to help prepare me for the visual art exams.
How did you study art on your own? Can you expatiate on that?
I was reading art text books for secondary schools and trying out what I learnt from the text. I was the only student that sat for art in my school that year, and I was actually a science student in secondary school but I had to switch to arts when I wanted to write JAMB and the only option that would allow me study Fine arts in the university was to do art subjects, so that was another challenge. I had to switch to entirely new set of art subjects (which I also studied on my own) abandoning the science subjects. So that was how I was able to gain admission to study Fine & Applied Arts which was my dream course.
What are some of the things that went through your mind during those trying times?
Though it was difficult finding myself as the only person doing ‘arts’ in the school and doing all the reading alone, but it also made me feel special, and that feeling motivated me to move on.
How do you usually decide on what to paint? Does it come as an inspiration?
Aside from portraits, some of my paintings come as inspirations and some also come from what goes on around me.
What are some of the challenges that painters are facing in Nigeria?
Painters face several challenges in Nigeria, some of them include; none availability of materials. We don’t really have good art materials, so it makes it difficult most times to achieve some effects/textures while painting. So sometimes we end up improvising with local materials.
Another challenge we face as painters is low patronage. Nigerians have not gotten to that level where they see Art as important aspect of aesthetics in their homes & environments, thus the low patronage.
How do you think these problems can be solved?
Awareness programs to sensitize the populace about the importance of acquiring arts should be organized or possibly aired on radio & TV, and let them know not just about the aesthetic values, but how big a market it is overseas. It will go a long way to help resolve the challenges.
What can the government do to encourage Nigerian painters?
Government has a big role to play in development of arts generally in Nigeria. Art could be that needed alternative to oil in generating income to the country if they start looking towards that direction.
If truly the government wants to build the tourism potentials of this country, then it is time for them to start building platforms for Arts to thrive. Art Galleries should be built at least one in every state of the federation. It would help bring the individual artists together & become big tourist sites. That way we will showcase to the world how much art we have & can export to the rest of the world.
Cooperate bodies are not left out in this as well. They also need to buy into the Arts to encourage the growth of arts in the country.
Is your location limiting you in any way, considering the fact that most young people believe they can only make it in Big cities like Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja hence they keep relocating to such places?
To some extent yes. But thank God for internet… now you can reach the world from wherever you are.
Do you regret ever choosing this career path?
Would you say you made the best decision of being painter?
What particular attribute makes your profession stand out from other professions?
Being able to go deep within yourself and produce works that marvel people. And being able to see things differently from every other person, and also being able to create something from nothing, makes it unique.
Where do you hope to be in the next five years?
I would be the best version of myself and what I do.
Do you have any role models?
A lot, most of them ‘contemporary artists. Artists like Omar Ortiz, our own hyper-realist, Arinze Stanley and many others inspire me a lot.
What are some of the lessons you learnt from the challenges you faced?
With determination & hard work you will definitely succeed.
What has been your source of motivation and watch word?
People loving and appreciating what I do motivates me to do more. And my watch word has always been, ‘it can only get better with more practice’.
What is your word of advice for aspiring artistes/painters?
Nothing good comes easy, with hard work and determination, they can get to any level they want.
To see more of his outstanding works, you can follow Obioma on Facebook @Chukwu Obioma (Hy-Kenny)
and on IG @Chukwu Obioma (Hy-Kenny Arts).