Interview with Ken Nwadiogbu for his exhibition ‘Freedom Protesters’ showing at Thinkspace Projects June 4 – June 25,

Thinkspace is pleased to present new works from Ken Nwadiogbu for ‘Freedom Protesters.’ As Nwadiogbu has stated, “One of the amazing parts of being an artist is that we have the opportunity to start up conversations about things that are relevant to us in this very time of our existence. For every platform and opportunity we are given, we do our best to respond to issues around the world.”

‘Freedom Protesters’ will include 30 cut-out flags of different colors with “FREE” written on them, the aim to create a protest scene using the most basic protest material- the Cardboard paper

Our interview with Ken Nwadiogbu for ‘Freedom Protesters’ explores the issues that keep him awake at night, an injustice he recently protested against, and his ambitions to have a positive impact through art within his community.

Are there elements of your education within engineering that you bring into your artistic practice?

My Civil Engineering education influences my paintings. I believe my works are like construction; layering different ideas and building structures like in ‘Journey Mercies’ while gifting me the ability to be intentional, patient, and detailed – rarely ever leaving anything to chance.

Art is a form of protest, so it’s fair to say you’ve participated in protests. But have you ever marched in protest? If so, what were you marching against, and what were you chanting for change?

Yes, Art is a powerful protest tool, and Yes, I have been physically part of a protest.

On October 2020, Nigerian youths took to social media to announce a nationwide protest against police brutality in Nigeria. I was eager to be part of this protest because I have also been a victim of police brutality in the country. A Nigerian police unity called SARS constantly kill, beat, and harass youths to extort money from them. We took to the streets to protest for the disbandment of such unit and for our voices to be heard. 


You’ve shared Kelvin Okafor and Chuck Close were some of your first artistic influencers? What piece by those artists has resonated with you?

Yes, they were the first artists I fell in love with. I remember being really obsessed with Kelvin Okafor’s ‘Timeless’ drawing. Still amazes me every time I see it.

What intrigued me the most about Chuck Close was the new pixel paintings he began later in his career. I was intrigued by how he was able to transform to an even more sophisticated concept. It was important for me to see this to realize it was okay to reimagine what my paintings could look like in years.

What three causes or plights of humanity keep you up at night? Where do you see hope?

Violence, Poverty, and Corruption. I see hope in togetherness and love. If we love ourselves and come together, we will be powerful beyond measures.

When do you feel a sense of free-ness?

So many factors come together to bring about freedom. Not just internal factors but external as well. Though, I believe it starts with acceptance. When you have completely and totally accepted who you are, then you can have a sense of freedom.

What music have you been listening to lately? Who should we add to a playlist?

You need to check out ‘Addicted’ by Rema or the ‘Mr Morale and The Big Steppers’ album by Kendrick Lamar. I’m also in love with ‘Osama’ by Zakes Bantwini, ‘Territory’ by The Blaze, and ‘Alive’ by Rüfüs Du Sol. I listen to a lot of music, but these songs get me excited in the studio. 

If money wasn’t an issue, what would be a dream project that you would create and allow you to help uplift your community?

It has always been a dream to break the Guiness World Record of the largest drawing in the world. I followed Sacha Jafri’s Journey to breaking the GWR of the largest painting in the world and it was amazing. This single project inspired, transformed, and gave hope to millions around the world. I want to make such an impact, and include my community in history books. 

What is some of the best advice you’ve received for being an artist and life in general?

“When everyone is sleeping, that’s when great people change the world.”

If you could collaborate with any artists in any medium (i.e., movies, music, painting), who would you collaborate with, and what would you two be making?

Olafur Eliasson. We’ll be making the most impactful idea in the history of ideas.

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