Empowering youths through arts
Posted By: OLUWABUKOLA FASUYI On: November 8, 2017

Art encompasses every aspect of our lives – the clothes we wear, the buildings we live in, our music, our medicines and our literatures. They all exist due to the creative capacity of the human mind. Art is a form of communication that is as old as humankind itself. Art is life,” so said the founder of Oshodi Arts Gallery, Oluwaseyi Paul Oshodi.

Driven by his philosophy of arts, the arts entrepreneur and digital artist founded the gallery, which is a subsidiary of J&P Vanarts Limited, in 2007, to discover, develop and deploy talents, promote professionalism through the provision of platforms for wealth creation for both contemporary and emerging artists.

Over the years, his gallery has been collecting arts and evolving strategies such as organising group and sole exhibitions, seminars and workshops within and outside the country. As a result, his gallery has impacted 238,000 private homes, corporate and government institutions, while adding value to the arts audience, according to the gallery owner.

“Going by our vision, we seek to develop potentials. We have demonstrated this through our arts training programme tagged: Heart for Art. This concept was instituted in 2009, to empower youths, children and women and even retirees. We opened our gallery to schools at different levels for research works and execution. Similarly, we have partnered with government agencies at local, state and federal levels.”

Born in Okitipupa, Ondo State in 1973, Oshodi recently held an exhibition in his home-state, in conjunction with the state government. The exhibition earned him support of the Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Prof. Claudius Omoleye Daramola. In no distant future, Oshodi said, his gallery is planning to open the biggest arts gallery in Nigeria in Ondo State. “This, of course, will drive tourism traffic to the state and make it one of the biggest tourism hubs on the continent. Besides that our organisation plans to train 5,000 Ondo women and youths in arts, sculpture and painting, and also provide avenues for them to sell their works around the globe.”

Before becoming a fulltime studio artist, Oshodi has worked as a multimedia expert, a studio artist and art digital animator all in Lagos. He has also trained several animators and motion graphic artists and video editors.

His works and career as an artist are influenced by three major characteristics: his training at Fine Arts department of the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife; the traditional African mask which was his final research project at Ife and the society, particularly Yoruba. “My style was drawn from diverse Yoruba symbols and my themes project traditional lore and myths of my native culture. My work, defiant of classification, silently grows on viewers, blending with their moods, simultaneously taking their minds to strange and familiar colourful places full of false nostalgia. Oftentimes, the attraction is mutual and instant,” he observed.

For the artist, “life patterns of the people represent an embodiment of their culture”. He observed that although Africans are known to be lovers of arts, music and literature, yet the government and people must do more to support their artists so as to keep their arts and by extension, their culture alive.

Beyond being an art advocate, Oshodi is also a proponent of wealth agricultural sector holds. The artist-turned fisherman is advocating that the arts and agricultural sectors are untapped goldmine for youths’ empowerment.

While praising Ondo State government for its promotion of the arts, Oshodi, who was also a beneficiary of NDDC youth empowerment programme, commended the efforts of Prof Daramola on youth empowerment. “He has shown commitment to the people of Niger-Delta. I am one of the beneficiaries of a fishing training programme his ministry organised. We were about 100 participants; each of us was given N1.5 million as start-up for our fishing business. He has also shown interest in the art and culture, by promising to sponsor over 50 people in the arts and culture,” he said.