Graffiti artist Dipo Doherty talks Culture, murals and the Human Experience

Do you have any role models or icons whose work with graffiti and murals have influenced your work?

Most of the time I find myself being inspired by the iconic African modernists that have taken their artistic practice to very ambitious levels. Prof. Agbo Folarin, Chris Ofili, Twin Seven Seven, and El Anastui are just a handful of artists I admire. I don’t base my admiration of their works on their mural accomplishments, but the sheer ambition of scale you can find in their body of works. It’s a testament to the energy packed inside them, and very characteristic of artists with creative longevity in my opinion.

Is there any meaning to your art? Any message you try to convey through them?

Art has come to be my way of exploring higher altitudes of reasoning. I use my artistic inquiry to reconcile the progression of time, science, and culture in the notion of the human experience; and thus experience what we perceive to be 2 distinct domains as a whole entity. Ultimately, the experience lies with, and is complete in the eyes of the viewer. Every human being, irrespective of how generalized her/his appreciation might be for a work of art on the surface, is resonating with the work in a frequency unique to her/him. My message, if any, would be that of inspiration, in the hopes that it sparks a eureka moment in the minds of the viewers.

Are your murals ever plotted out before you get to the site or do you follow the inspiration and let it take you where the art leads?

What’s the joy of a predetermined course?

Early on in my career I’d shrink at a mural commission, not because I questioned my ability, but the permanence that came with such an accomplishment. The ideal situation would be to create something that can stand the test of time, and evolve with new insight from the observer’s perspective. Such feat requires layers of depth within the work that cannot be unmasked when observed once. But the more I painted, the more I disregarded control, and this layering of ideas became more automatic.

At this point an idea is a more than enough plan for me. It stays nascent and formless in my mind. I continue bending it around and exploring it, toying with it, but the moment the first drop of paint meets surface, the idea begins to solidify. Gradually things flesh out to what ends up being reality.

What is the most fun location you did your mural at? (And can you link us to a picture of said location for the sake of the article?)

The Style Loft has to be the most exhilarating mural experience so far. At a point I had to climb over 20 feet to finish the mural! The wind profile was very different from what I was dealing with on the ground level, which I was oblivious of until the project began. Add that complexity to the fact that I was applying spray-paint. Aerosols are difficult to control in windy conditions, and the direction of the gusts kept changing every few minutes. At one point I decided not to oppose this difficulty, but see it as nature’s hand in collaboration. What transpired was completely different from what I had intended, but yet carried a character of its location that would make it unique in its own right.

I learned many lessons during that project. Nature is such a beauty in it’s own way.

Which of your past pieces do you hope would stand the test of time?

I really haven’t thought of that before. I feel I’d like my works to be a unique documentary of my time observing the progress of man. We are in an age never experienced before. Technology has been a force of gravity on many disciplines, closing miles between people, ideas, and cultures in a way never experienced by the humans before us. It would be exciting to document this journey of integration and its consequences though art; and hopefully it stands as a point of reference for generations to come.

Which country/city are you based at?

I’m currently working from Lagos, and regardless of it’s daily trials, it has been generous in its wealth of inspirations.

You can find more of Dipo’s works on his Instagram: @kingdips


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