Chidimma Cornelius Omeke, popularly known in the art world as OCS Chidimma, is a young and fast rising artist in the creative industry. In this interview with Sunday Ehigiator, Omeke speaks on the success of his first solo exhibition in Abuja, his love for art, and how he ventured into the craft of moviemaking
Who is OCS Chidimma?
OCS Chidimma is a hands-on Nigerian Artist. In a world of dire and numerous needs and hustling, I tell the day to day stories of the seemingly neglected people through life and living. My art works basically are of charcoal on cloth and its combination with other colours. I am the C.E.O of PICOC Touch Nig. Ltd, a.k.a Picocartz. I am likewise a Metal Artist and Jeweller.
How was your upbringing?
I was raised in a Christian home and taught the importance of hard work and patience from early stage of my life. I am the first child of a family of 4 children; three boys and a girl. My dad is an artist too and my mum is a guardian and counselling practitioner and also a principal. My mum is the one on the cool side; very loving and caring while my dad was very strict. In fact, the fear of my dad’s roar when you mess up was the beginning of wisdom.
How about your educational background?
I started my nursery and primary education in Santa Maria Nursery/Primary School in Nsukka, Enugu State but the rest of my primary education was in Model Primary School Nsukka Enugu State in 2003. My secondary school was at St. John-Cross Seminary Nsukka, Enugu State between 2003 and 2009. I left the seminary in 2010. I became a fine art teacher for one year in Royal Crown Academy Nsukka, Enugu State where I wrote another WAEC just so I can have fine-Art in my O’ level result, which was a prerequisite to study Fine and Applied Arts in the University of Benin. By 2011, I gained admission into the University of Benin where I majored in Metal Design afterwards. Due to my academic excellence and how sound I was, I was the first metal design student to be given I.T students to mentor during their internship. I finally graduated in 2015 as one of the best graduating students with a GPA of 4.04/5.
I saw in your archives a portrait of Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello, tell me about it?
I served in Kogi State, particularly, at the Council for Art and Culture in Lokoja. I did a portrait of him and after I presented the portrait to him, he made me an art instructor in the council where I mentored staff, I.T students and visitor.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
Aside holding a BA in Fine and Applied art (Metal Design major) from UniBen, recently, I successfully executed my first ever solo exhibition which I entitled “Of The Eyes, Mind and Body”.
Although, my works has severally being exhibited and auctioned in several art exhibitions, but this was my first solo exhibition; comprising of only my works. It had in attendance different dignitaries from various walks of life, including the 2017/2018 Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria, Miss Ugochi Ihezue. I was particularly elevated by her speech and recommendations at the event when she said “OCS Chidimma as an artist is very expressional. He showcases little things that would be easily ignored and turns them into masterpieces. I had the time of my life in his exhibition.” And really, that is me in summary.
Also, I received a Creative Art Award from the National Association of Fine Arta Students upon my graduation at the 2015 Diner and Award Night, and I participated in the 2017 Life in My City Art Festival and was among the 25 finalists. This was another amazing height for me. And as I said earlier, I have as well participated in lots of group arts exhibitions, which include the ‘Resurgence of Expression’ organised by National Gallery of Art Enugu, 2018 Coal City Art Exhibition titled The African Child. The list is endless.
Also being an art instructor at the Council for Arts and Culture in Lokoja, Kogi State for a year, was a great one for me.
Finally, the fact that my works have been collected by very many prominent personalities including the Governor of Kogi State, Governor Yahaya Bello; Governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi; Kogi State Chief of Staff, David Edward Onaja, some ministers and commissioners as well etc. is also a great one for me. And I am grateful to God for everything.
What inspires you?
My inspiration comes from nature, beauty, pure cultural values and the grace in human beings as a specie. I am moved towards telling the stories of the unheard or unspoken with my craft. Giving voice to the voiceless through my impressions, and bringing out the beauty of the neglected aspects of nature through my skills. I mirror the world as filled with so much beauty that needs to be portrayed for better appreciation through art.
Also, art has been in my family. My Dad is an artist and I was raised from childhood to become one. So I already knew where I was headed at a very young age. That alone was enough push for me. The interest has always being art; it would be art and can’t stop being art.
Art, designs and jewelleries are basically my passion. It is what makes me special and I think I will be a passing phase without it. It’s basically my life and all I live for.
Tell me about this your work entitled “Gaze”?
History has always repeated itself and my city is no exception. Socialisation; being a means of transferring knowledge from the older to the younger generation, has been from pre-historical times. Gaze shows two kids playing and unknowingly displaying the traits of their parents seen in the boy holding a ‘Dry Gin’ bottle and the girl drinking Malt. Meanwhile, they both are gazing at something that’s neither making them happy nor sad. The intensity of the gaze was used to show how children quickly learn to imitate from the old, thus younger generation learning from the older generations at a time before the dawn of a new era.
How about this one you entitled “Solace”?
It took eight months to study these women in Ogurute, Enugu Ezike in Igbo-eze north LGA, Enugu State. It’s one of the largest villages in Africa. They are known for their pride and strength in their rich culture. Their women are by conventions of the land, strongly placed under masculine supremacy. It’s part of their beliefs that their women run mad if they cheat on their husbands and also suffer a horrible fate if they spend their husband’s money without consent. These women hence form groups to find solace in each other. They are together as strong women that understand each other. They make periodic money contributions to support each other and use table and other musical instruments to express pure joy in any occasion that affects any of them. Their solace in the beautiful moments they create with each other makes them formidable. The type of strength that takes civilisation to a new dawn of gender equality.
What are the channels through which you expose your works to the world?
Aside group exhibitions, I post all my works on my instagram page @picocartz, my facebook page; Picoc Arts and Designs and my website,www.picoc.com.ng.
How do you cool off?
I basically enjoy music. Anything artistic, I simply love it. I love swimming, especially under hot weather. I love hanging out with friends and catching up over a bottle of wine. I love traveling. I love adventures and all. I love to enjoy life at its fullest. It’s the essence of my inspiration.
Looking at your physique, are you currently in any relationship? And how have you been able to manage distractions from female admirers?
No! I am currently not in any relationship. And truly, I get a lot of admirations and attention from the opposite sex, but I have been disciplined enough to stay focused. I don’t let flatteries get to me, even though I appreciate the love. And I define the purpose of every friendship well before entertaining it. I think that, and my upbringing has been able to keep me going.
What is your advice to upcoming artists?
Stay focused, follow through with your dreams, believe in your abilities. Discover yourself and develop yourself. Only then will the sky be your limit.