By Damiete Braide 

Felix Bankole is a trained accountant who has veered into art, which he was born into. His foray into arts has found expression in filmmaking, photography, editing, script writing and film editing

“My world is art and my art is my world. There is creativity in everything and everyone around me. This depends on how far and well the person involved can go. We have to sometimes push ourselves so hard to bring out the best in us,” he says in an interview.

In the visual art sector, his role model is Kelvin Okafor,  based in the United Kingdom, whose dexterity in the use of graphite pencil is remarkable. “I marvel at how he uses graphite pencil and charcoal to create wonders, which is amazing,” he says.

Marketing of artworks is a big challenge to him, like most Nigerian artists. He says: “I reside in Gwagwalada, Abuja, but most people don’t value art there. When people see a particular artwork and ask how much the work is, when you tell them the price, they will ridicule you, ‘How much is the picture in a photo studio?’

“They don’t know that an artwork is an expression of the artist. When you buy artwork, you are appreciating God’s gift and deposit in man. When you put an artwork in your house, you have the artist in your home, so when an artist spends several weeks doing a project, people would underprice the artwork, which is discouraging to the artist. 

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“But, as an artist, it is not about the sales alone but the fulfillment derived from the work. Any time, I paint artworks not on demand but to find fulfillment in life. No amount of money can quantify the worth of the strokes of an artist. You can only appreciate it.”

Bankole’s artistic concept is to reflect Christ in his artworks, “because as a Christian and a missionary, I must use any opportunity to share the message of the cross, share the Christian way of life, which is expected of us as children of God. So my concept of art is to express who God is through my works, the life of Christ. That is why most of my works have Christian titles such as ‘Tekel’, which means weighed in the balances; ‘Secret Place’, ‘Shadow of Death’ (Psalm 23) etc.”

Expressing his views about arts in Nigeria, Bankole says Nigerian artists lack the enabling environment compared to their counterparts in developed countries. “The Nigerian artist will have to  buy materials which are expensive and sometimes it takes time to sell artworks,” he laments.

The up-and-coming artist affirms that artists contribute a lot to societal development, because they speak through their art works: “Many times artists use their works to address social issues. Let’s take for instance the long ASUU strike, some cartoonists in newspapers and magazines did a lot of works to campaign against it. They also did works against bad governance. There are artworks that address social vices in schools, rape, hooliganism, crime and cultism, all these can be addressed through paintings of artworks but it’s usually said people look only while the artist sees. Some of these master pieces are better understood when the artist interprets his or her work to the audience,” he notes 

Going further to explain some of his works, Bankole says “The Secret Place” is an abstract work which he did when he was passing through some challenges. “It shows what I was facing as a person then. There is a dark background with strokes of beautiful different colours which are the little signs or expressions of breakthrough and success that people see on the outside, but they don’t know how long one has fasted, prayed,” he says.

Another work, “Tears from Africa” depicts the eyes full of tears of a beautiful African woman while she covers the other parts of her face. He explains: “Many Africans are crying and suffering in the hands of their leaders, but they only pretend to be fine and okay. Just like the song by the late Fela Anukulapo, ‘Suffering and Smiling’, which Nigerians are facing.”