In Conversation With Visual Artist Osinachi For His Latest Body Of Work – ‘COVID-19: A General State Of Anxiety’

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For many creatives, the global pandemic of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has set a flush of waves on the exploration of many other aspects of their creative prowess. For most creatives, this period has not only created a realization but has expanded their creative horizon. Visual Artist, Osinachi is one of the many artists who has been inspired by this trying times to create art that speaks of the here and now.

Osinachi COVID-19: A General State Of Anxiety
Visual Artist

His latest collection of work: COVID-19: A General State Of Anxiety is exploring the effects of the pandemic as it concerns keeping safe, social distancing, and religion. With five powerful illustrations, Osinachi is exploring the various states of anxiety that has been prevalent as a response to the pandemic.

This artwork references the psychological effects that being stuck in a space for too long could have on a person. From wiping down every surface to other heightened personal hygiene practices, there is a general sense of distrust between people and what they once regarded as their personal space. Given the realities of lockdowns, people are forced to lazy around indoors, most times leading to ennui Osinachi
The pieces are part of a larger exhibition at CADAF Online 2020 as facilitated by Kate Vass Galerie in collaboration with the artist.

In conversation with the artist, Osinachi takes us on a tour of his mind as we discuss the obvious inspiration for the project, what this period means to him personally and how it will go on to affect creatives in the long run.

What was the creative process for this work, considering the times we’re in?

Usually, I work with models so I have people who come and pose for me the way I want them to and then I take a photo. Using the photo as a reference, make my work… So yeah, the pandemic affected the creative process in that within the lockdown period when I made this project, it was difficult to get people to come over. In fact, the series came about because I had a need for people to come and do stuff for me. I had the need to cut my hair, so I had to invite a barber. I needed to shoot a video, so I invited this guy who turned out to be one of the models in the series. So yeah, it did affect it and the precautionary method which involves people wearing masks also saw the subjects wearing masks.

Woud you say this project was solely inspired by the coronavirus and the anxiety that comes with it?

Yes, I would say that it is highly inspired by the coronavirus. It has affected our lives generally. Those of us in Nigeria are seeing it now even when it was raging in China, Europe, and North America, we didn’t really think it was going to blow up this much. We thought our government had it in control. So when it happened, it was like a big blow with the lockdown and staying indoors from morning to night and within that period I was moving apartments, so imagine staying in an empty apartment. There wasn’t even any will to do anything.

Let’s Talk About ‘The Prophecy… Does it say anything about Nigerians concerning how we react to things as such?

The prophecy is a work that is a general reference to the religiosity that has pervaded Nigeria. Nigeria has very religious people and then when it comes to corruption and other negative things, we are still leading in them despite the religion. So it is our general belief in a higher force that makes some people say that the coronavirus can not get to them because they believe in Jesus. Some say it’s foolish for the African to wear a facemask and be scared of the virus. So it’s a general reference to the idea of a higher force that can save them from this; which explains the cross and the severed head. So it’s beyond Christianity and Islam.

Do you have any personalized meaning of this period, just as many people have shared that it means different things to them?

Well, the lockdown was a time for me to actually pay more attention to my craft. I did more creative reflection as I wanted to know the steps to take in this whole pandemic. It was at that period my gallery was talking to me about CADAF, where the work was exhibited. It was this period and the discussion that made me reflect on this time to create this project which also challenged my creativity and I think my work also, as always, reflects the times in which I live in. I talk about social issues, LGBTQ, single mothers and a few other social trending issues, but this was to reflect on how this period affected Nigerians and myself.

How do you think this period will affect creatives moving forward?

For someone who is in visual arts, I think this period has affected visual arts across the world. Some might say negative and some positive. But I would say mostly positive because it is at this time that galleries have closed and physical spaces limited, so within this period, creatives and creative agencies have put together and paid attention towards virtual spaces for exhibition and so on. So I think for creatives, it can be a positive thing because not many people get the chance to be in the physical spaces but with things like blockchain and the virtual world, creatives like visual artists get the chance to still be in charge without having a third-party. Many visual artists had a virtual exhibition, and it is something that they normally wouldn’t have been able to pull off. So for visual artists, the pandemic has made it clear to us that we need to go digital in art creation and curation.

Say something no one else knows about this project

Let’s talk about ‘The Prophecy’, one thing that no one knows from that particular work is that the subject wasn’t exactly holding a cross and a ram’s head. That was the vision for the work. But for the representation, the subject held a ladle and a pot. The Ladle represented the cross and the pot, the head of the ram.

COVID-19: A General State Of Anxiety was exhibited at the CADAF Online 2020 as facilitated by Kate Vass Galerie in collaboration with the artist.

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