By Maruthachelvi K.
This being my first experience in an interview asking questions, I was quite excited and nervous. I did my little homework about Mr. Ibiyinka Alao, an artist, ambassador, filmmaker who went to navy school but studied architecture based on advice of his Commandant. He later became an architect and author who won first place in a United Nations International Art Competition amongst 61 countries in 2001. His paintings are primarily about redemption, peace and love. Along with John Lennon, Alicia Keys and 2 other artists, he is noted among 5 Artists Who Have Spread Messages of Peace Around the World by Global Citizen.
I had to share a joke with Mr. Ibi to give him an insight on what made me nervous (but now absolutely comfortable) about his interview. Once a reporter was trying to interview an artist and he got a response to the email after almost 3 years saying " I am now ready for your interview". The artist had been that involved with his masterpiece and got engulfed in his own world , disconnecting from the rest of the world. I was so thankful that I could catch a hold of Mr.Ibi right away - through his very convenient calendar system that helped me block an available time for this interview. Ibi had a hearty laugh and told me that it was amusing to learn about this.
We connected on Zoom and the first thing I noticed was his very calm and happy face. This was followed by a constant kind and pleasant tone of voice. No wonder that he is a Peace Ambassador with the United Nations. What I gathered about Mr.Ibiyinka's name is that Nigerians also have names with significant meaning similar to my own Indian culture. His name means - "to be surrounded by family" . A world traveller that he is now, he is living up to his parents' expectations. He has a big family all over the world - touching hearts of many and creating impact through his paintings and insights.
My first question was: " What made you start painting?"
Mr. Ibiyinka responded with possibly more than one reason but he strongly felt that when he was a little child he started drawing and painting spontaneously . He enjoyed it whenever he created art. However, a stronger reason was as a middle schooler, he was very shy to speak to others and one of his teachers encouraged him to use art and start painting when he had difficulty communicating his thoughts. So he found more comfort in painting than speaking. He could tell stories more comfortably through his art. Ibi says this could be one of the many possible causes that made him become an artist. His melancholy is a major reason for how he started making some amazing art.
Our conversation then moved on to food. He made it very clear that he loves food . He mentioned that every artist thinks and executes in unique ways but his way is as much about food as it is about painting. Whenever he gets hungry he has to take a break to help himself fulfill his hunger. He possibly couldn't get that lost while creating his art without also giving some attention to his personal needs.
There are two more events with Ibi at Kalaloka Institute of Fine Arts on June 19th and June 23rd. Click here to register. Our first event was on June 12th with the energetic and amazing Afrique Aya group of drummers and dancers. Click here to learn more about them. Our next two events will feature Dhirana Academy of Classical Dance and Trike Theatre. Don't miss this experience!