“The place that inspires me most is Badagry”, Victoria Ndubisi Chinonye aka Ven Vick said, during our interview-turned-chat at Lumena Café. She made a lot of references to the coastal city, as we discussed, for about an hour, on her works as an artist with multiple skills – drawing, painting, acting, dancing. The place of Badagry in her creative expedition is foundational. For instance, her first lesson in special effects was received in the border town, from her youngest sibling, back at her parent’s house.
Badagry’s wealth in African history and the coastal setting of the town makes it a natural site of inspiration for imaginative thoughts. The shorelines; the movement of the waters; the posture of the trees; the cultural relics available in Badagry, continues to inspire people of all kinds, hundreds of years on – not just artists. Geographer and Environmentalist, Funmi Oyatogun once said, “I find new inspiration every time I visit Badagry and the stories of slavery, freedom, history and culture never get old”.
For Victoria, who adopted Ven Vick as her art-name, the abundance of life and the flurry of art pieces available in Badagry, sparks her creative fire; while the challenge in recreating new model materials oil it. Her younger brother might have introduced her to special effects, her friend (Peter Promise) might have gotten her rooted in the art of painting realism, but what has kept her craft alive are the tasking, more recent projects like when she had to do body art for a naked model at Mr Femi Williams’ birthday and the 1.5 square feet portrait of her best friend – a piece she described as her “best ever.”
The significance of the portrait is tied to the fact that its creation eclipsed a slow creative period for Ven Vick – a time when she had no interest in painting. It was an encounter of “artistic void.” Although she never experienced this with dance – an art form that warms her heart. She loves to dance, even in unlikely situations. Her love for expression through dance could even make her sound like a freak. I mean, she almost gave school away, just for some minutes of passionate dancing. “I was supposed to go for full-time but I missed my exams”, Victoria told me, explaining her position as a part-time student of the Fine Arts Department at Yaba University of Technology. Her reason: “Dance”.
While drawing, she dances; in the middle painting, she takes dance steps. Dance has brought added flair to her skill with the brush. It has become an art form that she now takes to stages to wow viewers. Interestingly, her dance is professional; she had her training in contemporary dance at Corporate Dance World – Dance Deal Foundation between 2015 and 2016; she’s good with a lot of its forms but not Balley. For the first time during our conversation, she admitted to a limitation. “I am not good with Balley even though I tried”.
Other than “Ven Vick”, another name she earned at a time was “Youngest Herbalist”; and this was because she “was the best at the role.” Asides her skills in visual art, acting is another talent of hers that is flourishing. She combines skills in both visual and performing art beautifully, switching between her gifts seamlessly. “I have the spirit of art. It depends on my mood”, was her response to my question on how she manages her diverse talents. I watched as she combined dancing with upside down painting in one of the videos on her Android device. She showed me some other videos – skits – which she recorded for VidSkits, a brand which she serves as an ambassador for. In one, she was CardiB with the attitude; in another her promiscuous husband was denying her and their child to woo a potential mistress. When I reached my threshold, I told her, “you are a piece of art yourself”.
To think that her parents imagined that they had a Lawyer in her makes me wonder. With all the obvious artistic gifts that she’s blessed with, you would think she would have no problem convincing them about her path – she didn’t anyway, she rebelled. “If I listened to my parents, I would have still been in Badagry”, she said. It was her own way of getting her mom particularly, who often asked her, “How many artworks do you see in people’s house? This is Nigeria”, to accept her choice of career.
It has become a much easier conversation now that she gets to work with big name clients like Access Bank. Yet, Vick is hoping to get a chance to “study prosthetic casting at a film school in the US”. With that, she can meet her higher goal of correcting the foreign perception of African art. “I want people to see what I can offer. I want people to see the best of different sides of art. For instance, people from outside do not see enough of our art. They see us as African contemporary artists who paint tribes men and black people in traditional attires. I want to paint things that will beat the understanding people of what is African art”.
This article was written by Ibironke Oluwatobi. He tweets via: @ibironketweets