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Nigeria- Anambra, Onitsha

Anthony iloanya

Tell us about yourself
I was born in the commercial city of Onitsha, in Anambra State of Nigeria, 8 March 1990. I am a graduate of University of Nigeria Nsukka, where I obtained a Bachelors of Arts in Education & Fine and Applied Arts (2013). I love to draw, paint, play music and play video games.

What kind of art do you do?
Although I majored in sculpture, I mostly paint. I work with oil colours and acrylic on canvas.

How did you get started & how long have you been working?
As earlier as I became conscious of myself, I have being drawing. While still in my junior secondary school, I went into apprenticeship in 2002-2008. After which I decided to pursue Visual Arts in the university from 2009-2013. Professionally, I have being practicing for five years now.

What or who inspired you?
Well I can't point a particular person that I will say inspired me, but I could remember my daily drawing competition with my peers in my childhood stage, and visiting local artists in our street. I would stand for hours, watching them paint and daily art became a burning passion in me.

How do you work?
I paint with a style I called Cubics Expressionism. No odd practices, I like to work in a cool and quiet environment, with jazz or gospel music playing.

How has your practice changed over time?
Earlier at the beginning of my profession as an artist, I commercially painted what I believed would sell easily and fast at the art market in Abuja, Nigeria. However, in 2015, my art took a new shape. I started painting to satisfy the art in me, and not the commercial market. I started using my art to address social economic imbalance in Nigeria and Africa. Since then, the financial value of my work naturally increased. Ever since then, I have been fulfilled as an artist.

Do you pursue themes?
Yes I pursue a themes. The center of my theme and focus has always been how to use my painting's in solving the social economic and political problem upon the Black race, Africa as a case study. Having this in mind, I tailored my works down to meet these needs.

Do you have a series you would like to highlight & tell us about?
Yes, for quite some time now I have been working on the important place of the girl child in conflict resolution, and how to end the deprivation of some basic right to the girl child. For quite some time now, I have been using a particular age bracket of little girl child to achieve this because I believe that they are the major victims of this act. You can see these in my paintings I titled: The Mediator, Between Reminiscences and Hope, Optimism, Distraction, Selfless Service and so many others, where I consciously portrayed the value of a girl child.

Is your life expressed in your art or vice versa?
To a very great extent I will say that my life has been expressed in my art. Growing up, I had a very tough beginning, living in my fathers tailoring workshop with my four elder brothers and elder sister, with my aunties, my mum and dad all packed in the workshop, with the equipment there. That was how I lived the childhood years ( 4-11 years old) of my life. I grew up there and faced lots of difficulties such as, going without food, and paying school fees very late, and being sent out from school about 5-6 times. I have all these memories evergreen in me, but in all those trying period, I held unto one thing, which was HOPE. My dad and mum always made me see that I have a great future. Today, things are far better and pleasant for me and my family. So in all my art, I consciously try to coin a message of Hope. Keep showing my viewer a better tomorrow.

What message would you like to convey through your art?
It is very simple, Africa can become a better continent if we pay close attention to our children and give them the very best that they deserve; in security, education, health, love, shelter, food, etc. Also, many should stand to fight for these to be achieved in our beloved continent.

What’s integral to your work as an artist?
Children. They are my main focus. All I think about and represent always, is children.

What has been a seminal experience in your career?
I have come to understand that the life of an artist is not an easy one, especially when it comes to finance. Facing and knowing this, has kept me to check on measures on how to become a rich and influential artist.

What’s your favorite piece from your collection?
Well, every piece is special to me. I treasure them all because they all have their unique message, but my last cubic expressionism painting titled Between Reminiscences and Hope, is still outstanding in all I have ever did. I used that to address the effects of trauma and how to help the traumatized.

Where does your inspiration come from when you are working?
Well, my major source of inspiration is my environment and the news, what is happening around the globe, especially to the black race.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
It's from my elder brother (Dr. Chukwuemeka Iloanya), he always tells me "stay glued to your passion as an artist, I believe you have a great future there."

Professionally, what’s your goal? What is your dream project?
To have the largest school of art mainly for children and young people in Nigeria. Not a university but a secondary school, mainly focused on arts and aimed at helping young people who can not afford formal education, but have talents. Bring them, tutor them and still financially support them to excel in their careers as artists.

What obstacles have you faced as an artist?
Well initially, it was on how to survive as an artist, pay bills, cloth, eat, and still buy working art materials with my art. But I believe that by God's Grace, that has been taken cared of to a very good extent.

What obstacles have you had with getting more people to know about your work?
Bridging the gap in getting enough publicity on social media, and participating in more international exhibition where I can have more people listen to me as I explain my works and to see my works as well.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
I want everyone reading this to know that our children are the best treasure, hope and future that we have, we should protect them.