Victor Ehikhamenor is a Nigerian visual artist, photographer and writer. Born in Udomi-Uwessan, Edo State, Nigeria, Ehikhamenor has BA in English and Literary Studies from Ambrose Ali University, an MS in Technology Management and and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University Of Maryland, USA.
Ehikhamenor’s art is described in his bio as abstract, symbolic and politically motivated works with ties to his Benin Kingdom background. The work itself is at once striking, colourful and has an unmistakeably African aesthetic. I was lucky enough to attend the opening of his most recent exhibition at the Gallery of African Art in Mayfair London.
Mrs Cooper kindly opened up her space to me so that I could spend some time with the work and the artist himself. Walking around the generous space alone, without the crowds of Ehikhamenor admirers from the opening, I felt at home surrounded by the work. I saw hidden shapes and symbols and was able to truly see much more than I had been able to see at the opening. The work felt joyful and looked beautiful. It reminded me of some of the African cloths we have always used in our family home. However, upon closer inspection, it was apparent that the large scale canvases Ehikhamenor packs so much detail into have a darker side.
A humorous, passionate, deeply optimistic and well educated man, Ehikhamenor took time out of his hectic schedule to talk me through some of the works in the show and to discuss his thoughts on success in the art world.
Image courtesy of Gallery of African Art Mayfair. Art by Victor Ehikhamenor
Adelaide Damoah (AD): When were you born? I have looked but can’t seem to find your date of birth anywhere!
Victor Ehikhamenor (VE): Well, I am not a woman! But if anyone asks I tell them I was born February 19th 1970
AD: Pisces?
VE: I think so. Are you?
AD: No. Scorpio! I read that you have a BA in English and Literary Studies, an MS in Technology Management and an MFA in Creative writing from the University of Maryland! How did you go from literary studies and technology to art and why?
VE: First of all the art has always been there. I think I was born with that based on the environment that I grew up in. My maternal grandfather was a very successful blacksmith and my paternal grandmother was a cloth weaver. This meant I pretty much had all sorts of art forms around growing up. I didn’t meet my paternal grandfather. My mum told me about him and the kind of the stuff he made and I saw some of it. Art has always been there. Tthere was no art teacher or anything like that at the school I went to. Without having art at secondary school, you can’t go and study it at university, so I went for English and Literature. I don’t know why I picked it really, but I just enjoyed reading and writing. It was at the hight of good journalism back in the day. I wanted to write like those journalists.
After my undergrad, my dad sent me to America to complete my masters. When I got there, I realised that if I read English, because of the way things were there, I might not get a job. For a black immigrant with a very thick accent coming from Africa, what kind of job would I have been able to get reading English! So I switched. I knew I did not have to speak English to do well in technology and that was also at the height of the technology boom in the mid nineties. I studied, then got a job. I then got a scholarship to go and do a masters.
After the first scholarship, I decided to go and do technology management. I was a Unix System Administrator. I worked with National Geographic as an engineer, then I moved to US Pharmacopia- they are responsible for certifying certain types of drugs in the USA..
I was always painting and showing my work. People at National Geographic were buying my work. But technology was not interesting for me at all. I mean, I was making good money from it but I was not satisfied at all. I realised that I was not aspiring to be the best engineer or anything so I was just going to work and was not having fun and I hate it when I am not having fun! So in 2006 I applied to do an MFA at the University of Maryland. When I applied, the person I was speaking to informed me that they gave fellowships every year. They advised me to apply and put in all of the work that I had done. So I did that and I was the only student that got the fellowship that year.
AD: Wow
VE: So I went to do my MFA without paying a penny! They paid me to go to school which was interesting. In my second year, I had to do a little bit of work by teaching undergrads, so I taught at the university of Maryland and that was it. When I completed that, I intensified my writing and went to do my first exhibition in Nigeria. I left Nigeria in ’94, came to the UK , then left UK in ’96 for the US. The first time I went back home to do an exhibition was 2006. I had some of my works that were not sold, so I left them with the person that organised the show and I sold about 90 per cent of the works I bought from the US.
AD: Impressive!
VE: Yes it was crazy. He hung some work in his office I just decided to collect them when I came back after a year or so. Then someone came to start up a newspaper in Nigeria and they brought in consultants from the US. Usually, they will go around the city, so they visited the office and saw my work and were very exited about it and were asking, “Whose work is this?” They wanted to base their colour palette for the newspaper on my work.
They called me in the US and I was like, well I have never worked on a newspaper before, I don’t know what it is all about so, they can go ahead! You sort out the modalities and background and if they are going to acquire the work, you let me know…. All the rights and things that need to be signed, send me the contract papers for review. That was how that happened.
I visited Nigeria in 2008 and they were in Nigeria still. They were still working on the background works, setting up the newspaper and I visited them, they started talking and from there the man said, look, are you interested in this project? And I said, I don’t know where I can come in, I am not really a graphic designer, I’m a painter. But I know what it means, I know what good design work looks like, I know how to package things. So he said he wanted me to be the creative director because no one else had spoken to him about putting the paper together from a design perspective in the same way that I had creatively. He said he would talk to the publisher about me. That was how I went to Nigeria for a visit and two weeks later I was permanently placed in Nigeria again. They relocated me so that I could be the creative director for the paper.
AD: Wow.
VE: Yeah, I fell in love again with my country. We won the best designed newspaper the first year. But we were a bit too radical because we went after all the corrupt cases! They were not used to that in Nigeria! The owner of the newspaper is a Pulitzer winner. He is a Nigerian. He moved back from the US. I moved back from the US. The arts and culture editor moved back from the UK. The editor of the news paper, a woman, moved back from the UK. So we weren’t buying into the corrupt idea of not being able to publish a story because of being paid off by someone. We locked ourselves up in the office. I have worked 72 hours in the office before. We felt that we were making a very strong change in Nigeria and we ruffled the feathers of the establishment a bit. They were really scared of us.
AD: What was the newspaper?
AD: I think I have heard about it. Is it 234 NEXT?
VE: Yes, 234 NEXT.
AD: Oh yes! I think I have been interviewed by them before!
VE: Thank you! Yes, that is the online version of the paper.
AD: Amazing! OK so it sounds like you had quite a natural transition from working in technology to art. You mentioned that while you were working for US Pharmacopia, that you were painting at that point, before you even went to study and you were selling work then.
VE: Yes! I started selling art at the age of 9.
AD: From the age of 9?
VE: Yes! My uncle is a renowned photographer, so I grew up in an art home. My brother used to get me those plastic cameras you buy for kids as toys and I would line up my friends and pretend as if I was taking photographs, then I would go back and draw them. I gave them the drawings and they would give me money in exchange. I think that is what art sales is all about right!
AD: Wow! Yes! You were an enterprising child! One of my questions was going to be can you remember your first sale and how it felt.
VE: Well it was interesting, I was always doing it for fun. But the thing is that it is not the money aspect that drives me. When I am painting, I am having fun. Because of that I have always had my own business so that I knew that the businesses would take care of me so that I would not have to be desperate about art. When you get desperate, that is when you don’t do what you want to do. And once you don’t do what you want to do, for me, it is problematic. For other artists, I don’t know, everybody has their own cup of tea but that is mine. I like doing what I want to do.
AD: Can you remember your first solo show?
VE: My first solo show was at Utopia Gallery 14th Street New York. I think that was in 2000. I worked for National Geographic between ’98 and 2000, and a whole lot of my co workers – who collected my works actually, came to that exhibition.
AD: Were you taken on by the gallery or was that an independent show?
VE: I was taken on by the gallery.
AD: That was after university right?
VE: Yes.
AD: How did you get that gallery representation? Did they find you or did you find them?
AD: I think it was a friends referral. They really liked the work and so we started talking. We kind of agreed on where we wanted to go.
AD: Have you always had gallery representation since then?
AD: Yes. But I am a bit wary about it in certain places because representation can mean a whole lot of things so if I am not too sure of what is going on then I kind of slow down a little bit.
AD: Your bio states that your work is, “…abstract, symbolic and politically motivated work with unmistakeable ties to your old Benin kingdom background and that your works are influenced by the reality of African traditional religion and the interception of Western beliefs, memories and nostalgia.” Your symbols and motifs are said to be “reminiscent of childhood village shrines and art drawn by women.” Would you say that art was a natural progression for you due to your background? How does that translate into this show?
VE: Its a gradual progression, because the more you work, the more you begin to discover what you can do. But memories and nostalgia come into play a lot with my work, whether in writing in painting, even doing photography. If you look at some of the work here, they are like wall drawings. They take up an entire wall. So yes, the people you see, the symbols you see, they can be contemporary, they can be a throw back to the past as well. The Masquerade piece can be a contemporary piece and it can also be… Look if you have a leader that is not telling you the truth, he is masquerading! He is putting on a display that is not supposed to be. Look at this other piece which is called The Delegate. You can send people to go and represent you, but they are representing themselves. So they are kind of like chameleons. They give you different colours depending on what they want you to see- which is quite deceptive. The work can reference the past and therefore how the past bears on the present.
AD: Today is the first time that I have come in since the show and seen the work with no people interrupting the work. I am noticing a lot of things that I did not see at the opening. One of those things is that the work appears to be on cloth. It reminds me of the traditional cloth that I use to tie myself at home.
VE: It is actually canvas, but I prime it to look like cloth. A lot of people keep referring to it as cloth because of the detailed nature of it. The way I primed one is different to the way I primed another because one is bit stiffer, so I can mould it a little bit. But it cant be too stiff because it will start breaking apart. I don’t use ready made cloth, but I create it to have a cloth like feel.
AD: I am also noticing that the symbols and also the fact that the entire canvas is covered in detail. Is there a specific reason for that or is that just your style?
VE: Yes it is my style but it is like taking ABCD to form words. You take letters from the alphabet to form words. You then choose words to form sentences. You form sentences to become stories, so there are layers. When you want to analyse or critique a novel, you don’t go after the alphabet. You go after sentences, you go after story structure, you go after plot and characterisation…. Therefore, in the big pieces, it is pretty much like writing a novel. There are bits and pieces of symbols that come together to form a larger picture.
If you want to really drill into it, the symbols are there. The circular symbols represent the circle of life. The symbols that look like the letter W represent Kingship. When you look closely, you can see that what looks like a W is actually a crown. You have to distil yourself inside, to be able to extract the meaning. Then you have people, faces embedded in the work. Hidden. When you stand and look from a distance, you think that you can count the figures in the work. When you get a bit closer, you can see that there are faces embedded even deeper, behind and inside the figures. When you move over to another side, you notice entire figures that you never noticed before. I don’t just go about telling people this. I want you to engage with the work. I don’t want you to just look, get out and think that you have encountered Victor Ehikamenor, you have to look at it! You have to look closely at anyone to really know who they are. So that is how it is.
From left to right, myself, Victor Ehikamenot and Eri Otite, gallery manager at GAFRA on opening night
AD: What is the story of this piece entitled “Waiting Along the Hallway of Pleasure.”
VE: This one is about Lagos, about village life. It is about stories, it is about enjoyment. Pretty much Lagos and the way we knew it.
It is also referencing red light districts. When you take that further, you soon realise that there is a lot of human trafficking in there as well- for prostitution abroad. Some prostitutes go, some come back. It cuts across politics, it cuts across social, it cuts across identity… When you look at it, prostitution is the oldest profession there is.
Looking at the current political situation in Africa, they are practically prostitutes. They are political prostitutes. Especially Nigeria where if you are in one political party which is not favourable to your career, you run to another political party which is.
AD: Now this painting entitled, “Lovers of Good Evening Street.”
VE: It is similar to the other one. Look at it deeply. Every one is naked pretty much. But you have to look well to be aware that that is what is happening to everybody. The is a place in Benin City called Ugbague Street. This is the oldest red light district in Benin City. It is a short street, like the length of this gallery. And it was really famous. People talked about it a lot. It was where men went to when they were kids… That was before the whole AIDS thing. You would see people popping their heads out of doors and people drinking beer along the street! It would usually start at around six in the evening- when the prostitutes would start coming out. When they would call out to men to come and patronise them, they would say, “Good evening sir!” That is why this piece is called, “Lovers of Good Evening Street.”
AD: I love the humour, but at the same time there is a dark side. Eri, the gallerry manager mentioned it earlier and I agree with her! It reminds me of Picasso’s Guernica!
VE: Yes. The worse thing that has happened to Edo State is that they have had the highest number of young women leaving to Italy to go and prostitute. Ugbague is the only place that had a known red light district! What does that say? It was a particular group of people that were operating there. These were the great grandmothers, grandmothers and mothers of contemporary prostitutes that are there now! When you look at it, people just take things from the top, when they actually don’t know the history behind it. They go to Italy and Belgium and all those places. They strut the streets, saying, “Hello, good evening, how are you?” So, again, they bring a lot of money back home to build houses. But some come back dead! Some come back with all kinds of diseases. So I work with satire- but when you look a little closer, you realise that I am not actually joking.
AD: Yes, it is quite serious.
VE: I am trying to tell you something. If you pay attention enough, you realise that I am not kidding here. When you look at it, you actually realise that there is really nobody happy there. There is no person that is happy in the piece. It leaves everybody naked, it leaves everybody sad. Some have their heads bowed. The lines that I leave in there, if you look at them you will see that I hollowed out the people. Whereas in the previous piece, you had objects on the bodies of the people.
AD: The story of the piece has gone from being happy to being sad. What about this piece- “The Scramble for Big Afro Mama?”
VE: This one is all about the raping of Africa by the whites. This is the division of Africa. This is them dividing up Africa. That is why I call it the “Scramble for Big Afro Mama.” If you notice there is a woman and she is being gang raped. That is that. Finished. You can see the men raping her have Caucasian noses. The owner of the woman, an African man is trying to hold onto his Africa. There are people coming from the outside, the river… Everywhere. They are just all over her.
AD: I’ve got chills now… What would you say has been your biggest challenge to date as an artist?
VE: I grew up in a place where you were not made to see challenges. If someone puts a log of wood in your path, it is telling you to climb atop the log to see beyond where you would have seen rather than seeing it as something which blocks your path.
I know some people might not believe it, but I don’t see obstacles! It is just a matter of time for me… I am not trying to be a motivational speaker or anything of that sort! I mean I have had difficulties and everything, but everything I have ever wanted, I have always had. I grew up in a very loving environment. When it was time for my parents to send me to school in the US, I went. When I got there, I realised they didn’t even have to send me any money to go to school because of the scholarship.
I mean, why did I leave National Geographic? Because a white boss said that I had an accent. Meanwhile, I had worked there for two years and I had done really well. He could not see past my accent to my engineering work. He would not move me from being a contractor to being permanent staff. He used that as an excuse to move me to another place of work, where they had to pay for my Masters. Should I have been looking at him or should I have been looking at the opportunity that happened later on? He made me go back and read UNIX! I was doing Microsoft before. I moved to Sun Systems and learned how to be a UNIX Systems Engineer!
Some people are ashamed to say that they grew up in the Village because they did not make the best use of their village experience! I grew up in the village. I had more fun! I grew up in a huge compound with cars and anything that we wanted. Books, photography, toys, football… I grew up to realise that my cousins who lived in the cities did not have fun at all. They were caged! So they did not have that experience that moulded them. The best place to go for a university education is the village! You have life experience. You can then draw on those experiences or you can disregard them.
AD: It sounds like for you, where some things may present to another person as a challenge, you see a challenge as an opportunity.
VE: Or just a matter of time. The British Government once wanted to deport me from this country. They asked me to report to Gatwick. But I am here today, going and coming any time I like! If I based everything on people saying you can’t go to school here or you cant do certain things, I probably would not have been an artist in London. I probably would have been chasing that elusive thing… Wake up early in the morning, you have to run to this place. The best you can probably do is get a council job or something… When they wanted to deport me, I was like, well no. I know who I am. If you don’t want me to stay in this country, I will leave. And I left! Now, I come in at any time I want and I leave whenever I want and they don’t bother me.
Once I was complaining to my brother that my aunty would not say hello to me. I would greet her and she would ignore me and she would not return my calls. My brother told me that I had too much time on my hands- worrying about who was greeting me properly and who was not! He said, “Victor, go and read your books!”
AD: What about your biggest success to date as an artist? How did you achieve it?
VE: I don’t know what is called success really. Being alive alone is successful for me to be honest with you. A whole lot of my friends have gone. People who did not have the opportunity to go to school. A lot of my friends have never travelled out of their environment. When people see me writing for the New York Times, or they see my articles on CNN or they see me being interviewed, they consider that successful. That is them defining success for me. That is not me defining my success. My success is that I am alive… To be able to have this conversation with you, to be able to have this exhibition. When I was in the US, I had pretty much everything I could ask for. I had my own house and drove a sports car. I got those things with IT money.
But what is success? That you are happy inside you. I am very content with myself and to me, that is my biggest success. To be happy with yourself, to be happy with you you are. To be comfortable in your own skin and be comfortable to laugh! I don’t force my laughter. When I want to laugh, I have a deep belly laugh. I wake up happy to see another beautiful day again and my family are doing well. There are people who rely on drugs to stay alive!
AD: That is beautiful. My next question was going to be whether you consider yourself to be successful by your own definition?
VE: Yes. In Nigeria, people are buying my work, I just had a very successful collaboration with Ituen Basi. That is huge! We showed it to Vogue Italia at a Mercedes Benz show in South Africa. The NEXT newspaper was based on my colours. It is also what else do I do with that creativity around me, so I think that is where people should try to define my success really. Not just looking at painting. I mean, having a show in the Gallery of African Art, you can add that one as a successful feather to my hat. It is a renowned gallery. In its one year of existence they have done some really great stuff. For the space they are in, this is prime real estate in London, so you can say that is a success. I think this is the longest running solo exhibition here. Two months.
AD: Yes! It is a long time.
VE: I think it is Mrs Cooper’s belief in the work that she had seen. It is not easy for any gallery to tie down their space to one artist for two months.
AD: How did the relationship with Mrs Cooper and the Gallery of African art come about?
VE: I think she knew me before knowing me actually. She collected my work. She puts her money where her mouth is. Mrs Cooper bought my work last year before deciding to do a show, without even really knowing who I was. A mutual friend of ours suggested a show and one thing lead to the other. I sent in some work and she looked at it. She took her time to decide and after that, she decided to show the work and it was work all the way to make it a successful exhibition.
AD: What about the collaboration with the designer Ituen Basi?
VE: When we started the newspaper, we were profiling fashion designers in Nigeria to look out for. I was the one designing the newspaper. Her images came and she was using a lot of Ankara. When the images came to me, I thought, wow, the colours are like mine! They were so vibrant and her designs were really good. So I just filed it away somewhere in my mind- this idea of doing something with her.
Later on, I had an exhibition in an alternative space where they sell high end goods in Nigeria called Temple Muse. Her clothes were upstairs. It was like one of those shopping places where you have high end perfumes and that kind of thing, with clothes upstairs. A friend who was the fashion editor at NEXT saw the synergy between our work. She called me and made the suggestion. She said, “Victor, I don’t know if you would like to work with Ituen. I saw something light up in my head when I saw the way your work flowed into her own garments…” I told her that was interesting because I had always said that one day I would like to work with a decent fashion designer, but it has to be the very best. You have to be careful when you are moving your work in that way so that it does not devalue the work that you are doing. The fashion editor then called Ituen and that was how it came about. We had a meeting and started working.
AD: There seems to be something happening in the Western art world, with reference to this movement toward the African aesthetic. This is in part evidenced by GAFRA being in existence. Then there was the nomination of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye for the Turner prize in 2013. Then of course there was the 1:54 Contemporary Art Fair last year, the Tate show in 2013 and the Bonhams African art auctions. This shift is almost palpable and it seems to be more prevalent now than ever before in my opinion. I think the question is really relevant to you because you have your feet on both sides as you work in the US as well as Nigeria and exhibit internationally. How do you think that this shift is going to impact the careers of African artists in the diaspora and then more specifically your own career?
VE: I would say that it is an interesting development. I would also tell you that there is no way you can light a lamp and expect darkness to suppress that lamp. African art has always been there. The Western world- Picasso for example, has borrowed from Africa. I think that it is time for the Western world to say, OK, we can’t suppress these people any more. Suppression in quotes…
We have also said that it is time for us to do big things. We are no longer content with what we were doing before. We want to move up… By being here, Mrs Cooper is saying that she wants to play big time! She is saying, “I am not going to go and set up in Peckham where the bourgeois will not go to. I am going to be right in the middle of you guys here, whether you like it or not, you will walk into my gallery!” It is a bold statement! That is the statement African art is making to the art world. We will no longer be the underdogs. We are ready to play big time. You have the curators, you have the gallery owners, just saying look, we are here. You will play with us. We are going to play on this field together, if it is not level, we will find one way or another to level this field. That is what is happening right now.
The traffic is both ways and the traffic has to be both ways. We are no longer in that time when people could just take what they want and do whatever they liked with it. You take our cocoa, you come back with some expensive chocolate to sell us and we are scrambling for it. You come take the oil and you come back with lubricants that we can’t afford. You take our flowers and give us perfume we can not afford. No! If you want our flowers, lets do it here. That is what is happening in the art world.
You have to realise that you have various movements. You have New York, you have London, you have Asia, you have Indian art…. I think it is Africa’s time. I think we are ready for them. As an artist, I think I am ready for them. Wherever they want to go. You want collaboration with high end fashion designers? Here it is from our own end and it is high end. The materials are not your regular Kente that you see. The materials are high end silk made in the best factories in the world.
AD: Do you see this shift only helping your career personally?
VE: No. It is expansive. Everybody has to benefit from it. Whatever happens to one person happens to the other. You see it’s like Chimananda Adiche. When she became successful, that is when every publisher started looking for the next Chimananda. When you look at all these other African writers coming after her, they are feeding on her success. The success of one person has an effect on other people.
Mrs Coopers success in this place will make other people look towards Africa. She is not only doing it for herself. Even if that was the original intention, it can not happen like that. Because people will come here and look at what is happening and be inspired. They will see that it is possible. One person has to tell the other people that this is possible.
AD: You mentioned Chimananda. I know that you have illustrated a book for her. How did that come about?
VE: We are good friends. Before the whole world knew who she was, I always regarded her as a very beautiful soul. She is not a selfish person. Once you are not a selfish person, then I get along with you. We have known each other since 2003, which is more than 10 years now. I met her in DC when her book came out. We had coffee together and the next thing I knew, her publisher contacted me and said that she insisted that I was the one who supplied the image for her forthcoming book! She is that great. Recently, she forced the Guardian UK to make sure that I was the one who photographed her. That is the photo downstairs, I will show you later. They commissioned me to photograph her in Nigeria for an article when she won the Book Circle Award in the US. One way or the other, she has always given back to friends and to those who are around her.
AD: Going back to the talking about the “art establishment,” and I have a feeling I know what you are going to say to this question! I have spoken to quite a few black artists who feel somewhat intimidated by the Western art establishment with regards to getting validation in order for them to feel like they can further their careers. Have you have any experiences that would justify that fear?
VE: It is a very emphatic NO! Remember what I told you about my brother and the woman who would not say hello to me? Keep working! They will come for you. And when they come for you, you better be ready! I mean, what are we talking about? Look, Harvard has used my work to illustrate their magazine. The Financial Times has profiled me. I don’t even know if I am qualified any more to answer that question. When the museums are ready they will come. And I will be ready for them.
AD: Is that kind of validation important to you?
VE: I mean for any artist, you want to be recognised for the hard work that you are doing, but it doesn’t give e sleepless nights. Again, when the time is right, they will come.
AD: Do you think that having a formal art education is important to having a successful art career or not?
VE: It is a door opener. It is a part of networking. When you look at the MFA programmes in the US, and I am very familiar with that whole academic world, it is networking. Its not like it is going to teach you anything way beyond what you already know. You can not take a carpenter and turn him into a writer. Having said that, when you look at the Iowa MFA, you see that on graduation, they are able to fuse into the publishing world because they already have a name. If you study law at Harvard, you already have a name, so you can practice in Washington DC pretty much straight away. Here in the UK, it would be Goldsmiths for artists…
For me, it is almost like gate crashing a party! I want to go to this party, so I will find a way of getting in there! I was getting ready to go for Yale MFA in Fine Art when Nigeria came calling. That was my next move. Because again, when you go there, it is part of networking. You have Kehinde Wiley, you have Wangechi Mutu. All the African guys go to Yale. They have a say in the world of art. I might still go there. I might go and have some fun!
AD: You have achieved a lot and we have mentioned just a few of those achievements. Do you have any further dreams for your art career?
VE: I don’t know. Again, I let things happen. It is when you have those crazy ideas- that is when you put unnecessary pressure on yourself and you start doing all kinds of things that probably would not have come naturally to you. That is not to say that I am ambition-less! I mean, I would like to go to a big museum, I would like to show at the Tate, at MOMA, at the Brooklyn museum, I would like to show in Japan… All the places where artists of my generation are showing, I would like to show there. My dad always said to me, “Whatever your mates are doing well, make sure you are doing it as well.”Again, it doesn’t give me sleepless nights, because I know, if I keep working hard and pushing myself for myself, not for anybody, and stay out of trouble, I will be good!
AD: Finally, what advice would you give to other artists wishing to follow in your footsteps ?
VE: They should keep working. Read as well. Read wide. Consume what others are doing. Visit galleries, pay attention and if they can afford it, get a good education. It is a leveller. Money is not the leveller. Education is the leveller.
Victor Ehikhamenor’s “Chronicles of the Enchanted World” is on at the Gallery of African Art, Mayfair, London until the 19th July 2014