Hyperrealism Borders With Kingsley Ayogu
Kingsley Ayogu takes being real to a whole other level. His hyperrealistic paintings are terrifyingly visceral, so lifelike you feel you could touch them. And they’re only emphasized by his incredible eye for detail, under which even the tiniest light patterns on falling water are painted with careful specificity.
Agoyu’s talents haven’t been ignored. He was a finalist in the Spanish Visual Art competition 2015, won the Talent For Praize Music and Art competition and won the Best Experiment Artist at LIMCAF 2016. Guardian Life speaks to Kingsley Agoyu about art, African parenting and what it means to be real.
You spent time in the corporate world before you got into art. Could you go back to that or has art always been the dream?
I’ve actually never had a “real job.” I was worked as a PA to a serving commissioner in Enugu between 2013 to 2014 but I quit so I could face my studies. Then in Fine and Applied Arts department at UNIZIK, we work on commissioned works to survive and still be able to loads of assignments. I was constantly having anxiety and panic attacks. All I knew to do was start painting and drawing to quell that pain. Luckily, the more I created, the more people showed interest in my work. And years later, here I am. Still painting the days away to help ease the harshness of life’s troubles, only to be fortunate enough to make a living off it. I may not have set out to be a professional painter, but now that I’m here there is no back.
Art to the average person is perceived as abstract and fantastical. Why choose hyperrealism?
At first, I really loved abstract drawings and sculpting but I just see myself rendering every detail. So hyperrealism is just the natural evolution for me. I suppose there is something comforting I find with hyperrealism, for I feel I have none outside of art. I notice on days I feel particularly less anxious, my work really loosens up and on the days when my anxiety is high, I find myself rendering every tiny detail within the details. And some days I can just write over it and move on.
Art isn’t the highest career on any African parent’s prayer list. Were your parents supportive?
There’s always the African parent syndrome but this is especially from my father‘s angle. At some point, he accepted that that this is what I want to do. Mothers have a way of supporting, even when they feel it might fail. But everybody is good now.
Your art “They left me” has a special place in your heart, what does it mean to you?
It’s all about me trying to find happiness inward. With my daily struggles with societal pressure and social anxiety, I find my painting can help me make sense of it. That piece is a self-portrait with what gushes down my face. This piece serves as a visual articulation of sorts. It is my way of telling viewers to look inward and find the things that make them happy and do it.
What’s been your biggest hurdle on the path to success?
It has been myself. I constantly challenge myself to do more all the time.
What are the hardest aspects of the art world right now?
There’s this segregation in the art world. Most already-established artists will discourage you from doing what you do.
You recently did your Eve series and complained on Instagram you lost some followers because of it. Why do you think that was?
Eve series was me talking about body shaming but some people took it personally. I’m very unapologetic about my approach to it. I feel some people didn’t get the context of Eve. It was a breakout of the box. I’m not sorry about it.
Where do you see yourself and your art in the future?
I see more form of focused work. I see more risks. I see myself getting some flack for new paintings that may not be what people want to see from me… more Eves or Adams But I see happiness in that: doing what I want to do. I think happiness is on the horizon.