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Ayegbayo Damola, Communicating Power, Beauty Of Black African Women

Unlike many artists who found themselves in the engaging world of visual art by happenstance, Ayegbayo Damola did not just become an artist; he was born an artist. At least, that’s what he says anytime someone asks him the common question: “What inspired you to become an artist?”

Born into a traditional Christian family in Osun, Nigeria, Ayegbayo is the second child of parents’ five children. Despite not living with his father, who was strongly against his desire to pursue art as a career, insisting that he did something that would give him a steady income, his mother, however, was his biggest supporter. She knew that Ayegbayo was born for art, and would grow up to do big things. Ayegbayo recalls how she was always joking, “Ah, he’s going to be rich!”

So, despite the traditional way in which he was raised, Ayegbayo took a non-conformist stance and, through his art, encouraged thousands to do the same.

“I can’t do what everyone else is doing,” he stated. Ayegbayo seeks to stand out for his work; not for the fame, but for the important topics that drive him to create.

After obtaining a degree in Fine and Applied Art at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife, Osun State, remaining true to his calling, he gained traction as a painter. He is inspired by many social issues he sees, wanting to shed light on them to encourage his viewers to question the status quo. He gathers ideas from anything he hears, but especially from the news, and the heated discussions he and others had with his father about political, religious, and feminist issues.

Ayegbayo utilizes his findings and incorporates them into his works, making them a loud voice that stands out in the crowd. To him, art is not only his great love but his duty to serve society.

“There are some things that make me outraged. The job of an artist is to reflect their times. That’s my job. I take that very seriously,” he said, adding that he uses his art to shed light on issues that would otherwise be swept under the rug.

With his skill in painting and drawing, Ayegbayo aims to communicate the power and beauty of black African women, realities of life and morals, through colors and black beautiful women’s faces.

According to him, the name of his painting style is called ‘Àbèfé’, meaning “pleaded to be loved”, which is his native name. His craft is an expressionist style of art, he uses portraits of beautiful black women to speak to society about morals, good behavior, love, and unity. He noted that an image of a black beautiful woman always reminds him of how his strong mother trained and brought him up with love and good morals helping him to discover his real self. For him, the concept of using a black woman is a great reference to his loving mother and the role other women had played in his life, their importance and existence in the world cannot be underestimated.

Ayegbayo also disclosed that he is inspired by his late grandfather who was a painter, sculptor, and ceramist from a tender age, as his love to practice art increased in the university by meeting with greater like minds in the department and visiting many art galleries and art departments in other universities, as well as traveling to historic ancient cities and art workshop e.t.c.

Ayegbayo has over the years researched the use of media like postal colours, oil colours, acrylics, and other mediums.

He has participated in the ‘Seven Days’ Exhibition’, organized by Victorart, and ‘The Metaphor Lagos’, which featured no fewer than 20 paintings and mixed media works that highlight some critical aspects of our environmental and cultural life as a nation. Also, A Virtual Showcase of Artwork by Hansford and Sons, London, Harlems Fine Art Show New York 2022, Art from the Motherland Exhibition, Thames Art center2023, Brooklyn, New York, Black Heroine Exhibition by Ominira Art Gallery, New York 2024.

The artist has worked on a unique upside-down painting style, with the use of various colours and mediums; these include live upside-down painting performances at great events such as KPMG Lagos events, Super sports TV, Standard chartered bank, And various notable art presentations.

Also, his art has been featured in both national and international publications. According to Saatchi Art his artworks: ‘Strength in Diversity Series 3’, ‘My Peregrinations Series 2’, ‘The Other Side Series 4’, ‘Purpose of Existence Series 3’ and published by Issuu, an American electronic publishing platform based in Palo Alto, California, United States.

In 2023, Ayegbayo was nominated for the ‘Black Is An Honour Awards’ in Rwanda and also the JOM Charity Awards for his contributions to African art.

To him, no barrier is unassailable if you work hard, believe, and are committed to what you love to do best.

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