Sanusi Olatunji was born in the Yoruba town – Ejigbo in Lagos, Nigeria. Growing up as the only artist in his family, and in a town where art wasn’t well received by the majority, but this did not stop Sanusi from pursuing his dream of becoming an accomplished artist. After receiving a degree in art, he worked as a full-time studio artist while furthering his education in the area of industrial techniques. Now living in South Africa, Sanusi believes that Nigeria provided an opportunity to explore ideas and South Africa provided him an opportunity to follow his dreams. Practicing and exhibiting his art throughout Africa has been an uplifting experience, and he’s looking forward to taking on the world! He has discovered a love working in several mediums, but paper and fabric collages has been his most favorite as he sees it as a form of recycling which he calls Waste is Wealth. Global and Local Artists’ Perspectives is an Interview and Conversation Series by Atim Annette Oton, curator of Calabar Gallery in Harlem, New York with Artists, Art Curators, Thinkers, Collectors and Gallerists.
1. What inspires you? And what continues to inspire you after these many years?
Answer: As an Artist, I am inspired by Nature things and people that sorrounds me. What inspire me much more in doing art after these years is the joy and happiness I get while working on an art piece.
In the darkness, 2019: The piece is depicting a lady who is a victim of gender base violence
2. How did you start making art? And why do you make art?
Answer: I started making art right from my childhood and when I realized art was my calling. I make art because it makes me happy, so it’s an hobby which turns to career.
Hope, 2019: This piece depicts a little kid who is looking forward to his future.
3. Is there an artwork that you have done that you are most proud of? Why?
Answer: Yes, I have an art work I have done that am most proud of because of the transformation in it, moving from painting to paper Collage and from paper Collage to fabric Collage.
In Pain: depicts a lady who is a victim of gender base violence, crying on to the Lord in pain.
4. What does your work aim to say? How does your work comment on current social or political issues?
Answer: I developed my career in art by moving from a street artist to a full time studio artist as well having my works in corporate collections.
My work aim to heal the soul of the viewers as well talking about not forgetting your roots as an African child. My work comments on current social issues with the messages I pass across the world in terms of gender base violence and the abuse of children.
Esther Mahlangu depicts Esther Mahlangu proudly showcasing her Ndebele culture.
5. Who are your biggest influences?Which artists inspire you and why?
Answer: Pablo Picasso inspires me a lot especialy with one of his quote when he says anything you can imagine is real.
Meditation: depicts an African lady who is meditating.
6. How do you cultivate a collector base?Which artist would you collect? What work have you collected or bought of another artist?
Answer: I cultivate a collector base by filling down all their details gradually.
I will collect Nelson Makamo. I have collected a painting of a small kid praying to God from a colleague.