IN CONVERSATION WITH
PAINTER / SCULPTOR
Fiyin Koko is a Nigerian figurative artist and illustrator. She was introduced to art at a young age by watching her mother paint. This impelled her innate artistic talent to become a self-taught artist.
Her work is inspired by all facets of womanism and encapsulates the unerring beauty of the Black Woman
HOW ARE YOU FEELING THESE DAYS?
I’m feeling soso these days. Some days are really good, but some days can be overwhelming! Life is just life! But, recently I have been feeling more inspired in my practice. I went to the Harmattan workshop by Bruce Onabrakpaya Foundation earlier this year and it was such a transformative time for me. So I'm currently in my experimental and energized phase.
WHY THE COLOR BLUE?
Growing up, I used to dream of the color blue and was drawn to it. Now, Blue has become more symbolic for me in a lot of ways. To me, it represents life because of its relation to my favorite elements of nature - (air) sky and water. Blue inspires me a little bit more than other colors.
YOU RECENTLY STARTED SCULPTING, WHAT’S THAT LIKE AND HOW DIFFERENT IS IT FROM PAINTING IN TERMS OF MATERIAL?
Sculpting is so interesting, I’ve been enjoying the journey so far, I used to want to be a neat artist and was afraid of getting my hands very dirty even working with paint. But working with clay changed that for me. You have to be fully present as it requires a lot of energy: from processing the clay to firing to glazing. It's a tedious process but I love that I’m able to hold the work I'm creating, unlike a painting.
Now bringing that discipline to painting, I’m a lot bolder and not afraid to immerse myself in bold colors and strokes. Sculpting has made me really appreciate my work more.
WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO AT THE MOMENT?
My taste in music is very vast so I listen to a whole lot at the same time.
But lately I have the following on repeat
Alicia Keys- Element of Freedom
Music from Rema and Victony
DOES SPIRITUALITY HAVE A PLACE IN YOUR WORK?
I think the creation of art can be a little spiritual practice.
WHAT FAVOURITE ITEMS DO YOU OWN?
1. My spinning wheel.
2. My iPad ( I create so much on it and have 1001 ideas on it)
3. Electronic lighter ( it’s so cool, I show everyone that comes to visit me or my studio)
THERE’S A LOT OF SENSUALITY IN YOUR WORK, WHERE DOES THAT COME FROM?
Hmm, I think it comes from the feminine form. I try to depict our form in a more passionate way that doesn't over sexualize the female body. I grew up seeing the female body in art done in a voyeuristic way and dominating approach and I always wanted to change that as an adult.
DO YOU THINK AN ARTIST CAN BE THEIR OWN MUSE?
I think an artist can definitely be their own muse. Even if it isn't directly painting a self-portrait. There is a little bit of themselves in each painting that you build. A lot of times our work is a reflection of our thoughts, and feelings and in turn, an extension of ourselves as muses.
YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF YOU BEING CREATIVE? AND HOW DID THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?
I think playing with colorful plasticine as a child. I used to create all sorts of things from weird shapes to fake earrings. I should have known a little early that I’d be sculpting eventually haha!
YOUR GO-TO GENRE WHEN YOU ARE PAINTING?
YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE COLOR
I don’t think I have one but I hardly work with green, but now that I’m cautious of it, I have a feeling I’m going to include it more in my painting
FAVOURITE MATERIAL TO WORK WITH ( SCULPTING OR PAINTING, EITHER IS FINE?
Right now, I think clay!. I love how malleable it is.
HOW IMPORTANT IS COLLABORATION IN YOUR PROCESS?
I think that collaboration is very important even though my practice can be very personal, I appreciate the times I have done collaborations. It teaches you a lot and opens up more phases that you probably didn’t even know exists.. I hope I get to do more!
FAVOURITE COUNTRY TO VISIT?
Somewhere I haven’t been yet and I think that would be Brazil. I wanted to go when I was younger and I learned to speak Portuguese in college. I’m saving up for it.
DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE IDEA THAT ART CAN HEAL THE WORLD?
I think Art is spiritual and healing can come from that. I’ve seen art speak to people in a way that nothing has before. They become so moved to do things differently because it touched them in the heart. I think if we tell more authentic stories, it'll bring more healing to the world.
Art should also heal the artist, not just the observers. I think for a lot of artists different forms and processes of our work can therapize us. That's why I believe in experimenting with various forms and media. Allow your essence to spread through different channels. For example, I feel ebullient when I take portraits of women. The process is so divine to me.
For a moment, I try to separate the burdens they may feel during our photo sessions, and seeing them unfold and just be themselves through my lens is so beautiful. It heals me a little bit.