Thursday, 28 May 2015


NDUKA OMEIFE-- Watercolorist extraordinaire

Nduka Omeife
When I'm painting , I feel like I'm on a trip to a secret place -- my secret place , and watercolour gives me the freedom to share my place, my space with the world...." The words of Nduka Omeife graphic artist and one of Nigeria's foremost contemporary watercolor artists.
Certainly no Nigerian artist of this contemporary generation is more synonymous with the word 'watercolour' than Nduka Omeife. Nduka's works , as is evident in some of these samples are not just uniquely creative but also distinctively self luminous.
Wole Soyinka
A Nduka Omeife watercolor

Consider the glowing edges of Soyinka's grey hairs or the glossy skin of the apples on the table and it is easy to appreciate Nduka's ingenuity with the treatment of light.

But his watercolours are not all just about light and the treatment of light. "For me," he says, "an artist is someone who sees reality for what it is; he may improve on it or manipulate it to create something else but ultimately he shares his world with those around him..."
Painting is indeed a creative visual art that is as personal as it is sharable. Over time this creative visual art form has evolved, metamorphosing into different formats, unique media and techniques reaching its height in the late middle ages . One of the techniques of this art form is water-colour painting which employs coloured pigments dissolved in water.
From a very early age, Nduka, who was born in Lagos in the 1970s, developed an irrepressible affection for the fine arts. Drawing became a part of him -- a part of his life. At the age of six, when others of his age were still tail coating their mothers, Nduka's interest was basically to grab a pencil and a sheet of paper and retreat to his little creative corner .

A Nduka Omeife Watercolor

Nduka's mother noticed very early in his childhood, that her son had a passion for drawing. She placed absolute faith in his talent. In an era when parents wanted for their children to grow up and become doctors or engineers, Nduka's parents, especially his mother committed her time and emotional resources to encouraging the Young Nduka to activate his passion for drawing.

For him, she became the philosopher, the role model, and the visionary, always advising him, guiding him and providing the pillar of support that he needed to develop his talent.

" My mother was a cook, my father a brewer ; we were just an average family but my mother was my backbone . Steeped in African culture, my mother was always full of proverbs and one that still lingers on till today is this: 'Nduka' she called me, 'Never ignore the little things in life. It's the tail of the cow that drives away flies...' This formed a part of my growing up years." He says.
These nuggets of wisdom were to later form the heart of Nduka's creative resources-- a unique blend of magical realism, attention to detail and an astonishing simplicity found in all of his creative works.
But first, Nduka says he had to contend with his education.
His words : "When you know who you are and what you want , you can change things ."
He attended St Peter's Catholic Primary School. His primary school years he says helped him develop a unique way of seeing things. Where others saw only the big picture, he could easily zero in on the details and his young mind would then re-create his own distinctive view of the world around him.
In junior secondary school, Nduka developed the habit of frequently visiting the National Gallery for Modern Arts at the National Theatre, Iganmu Lagos. At this young age, he was in JSS2 actually , (then called class 2) he found himself greatly influenced by the creative works of Abayomi Barbers, the late Ehabor Emokpae, Erein Solomon Wangboje, Abiodun Olaku, JD Akeredolu, and Ganiyu Oladokun all of whom were well established, infact leading artists at the time.
In 1993 he was introduced to Abiodun Olaku, at the Universal Studios of Art, National Theatre, Lagos. Olaku also greatly impacted Nduka's journey in arts.
Nduka says : " That was the time I realized that fine arts was the most eloquent means of communication for me. I spent hours and hours reading all the fine arts texts I came across. My heartbeat always raced whenever I was talking about fine arts with my friends. Drawing and painting became a personal means of expression for me. When given a single assignment, I could spend hours and hours researching it and others along with it. I just couldn't help myself..."
As it turned out Nduka became the best fine art student in his secondary school (Jubril Martins Memorial Grammar School, Iponri, Lagos State ) claiming all the prizes in fine art in his school. But he is quick to share the credit for this exemplary performance with his Secondary school art teacher, Mr. Tunde Aweniya who, he says, took time to nurture him.
Being a realist, Nduka accepted that he had to find some work to do, while awaiting his result and seeking admission to a University. He found work in a Printing press,(in a highly competitive environment like Lagos). There, his advanced knowledge of Graphic arts easily became evident. Such was his ability that it was not long before his employer entrusted the management of his entire printing press to the hands of this enterprising young school leaver.
This faith placed in him, gave the Young Nduka a strong determination to succeed, and presented an opportunity to cut his teeth on the business side of his vocation. It also instilled in him the discipline of delivering on deadlines in a highly demanding industry.
Time flew by and the opportunity for University education came knocking. Nduka won the prestigious Nigerian Breweries Scholarship to study fine art at the University of Benin. After a relatively average first year which he spent enjoying the new environment as many new entrants are likely to do, Nduka reassessed himself. He re-appraised his purpose for being there, and applied himself to his studies with renewed vigour. Such was his dedication to his studies that he made First Class Honours majoring in Graphic Design.
Focusing on his ultimate goal , Nduka understood that Graphic design would open the door to the corporate world while also giving him the freedom to work on his passion, what he calls his 'private place' : Watercolour painting.

After graduation Nduka's gained valuable work experience in FMCG, Printing, Advertising Agency and Banking. He also consulted for multinational, private companies and banks. Presently, he works in Brand Management in one of Nigeria's largest and biggest banks.
He is married to Bethel and together they have three beautiful children, Grace, Ijeoma and kene. 

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