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Bidemi’s recollections of his childhood environment

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By Osa Amadi, Arts Editor

Joseph Bidemi is an impressionist whose works are heavily influenced by his childhood experiences, especially the story of his mother who died giving birth to him. As a result of that, he became passionate with portrayal of women’s faces in many of his paintings. He has also painted quite a number of sceneries which are memories he harbors of his childhood environment like the one used in this story.

“I am an impressionist by style. My work borders on emotion. I play with colours –laying patches of colours together to create forms and images,” he says.

Coming from a polygamous family, Bidemi says he experienced a lot of negative emotions when he was growing up. “It was the longest wait of my life to get liberated. By that, I mean just getting out of what I called a cage where I saw constant emotional and verbal abuse. You can imagine a father having about 13 children.


“So the only way to put them under control is to verbally abuse them, to make them feel intimidated. Most fathers in polygamous homes are very hard to please. Being the last born anyway, I experienced a little bit of love and attention, even though it was a divided attention.”

Bidemi’s father was a successful businessman who wanted him to be a doctor, but the boy who started drawing when he was two years old loved art. When his father saw his interest, he encouraged him to pursue his dream. Facial expressions, emotions, and body language are familiar features of his works, featuring his series: “Insecure”, “Unveiled (xiv)” and “The Royal Guard”.

Bidemi’s art is known for its dynamism in colour with special emphasis on portrayal of women’s faces. Women play a central role in his compositions, which also allows him to connect with everyone and everything.

The artist is also greatly mused by the anthropology of emotion. He enjoys the distinct movement of the palette knife which he uses to achieve tactile realism juxtaposed with subtle lines and bold strokes of vibrant colours. He was born and bred in Jos, Plateau, his mother’s home state. He comes from Oyo State but resides in Lagos where he is currently practising as a full-time studio artist. He graduated in 2012 from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts, specialising in drawing and painting. Bidemi’s works are privately collected in Nigeria and internationally. He also has a couple of his works in the collection of King Mohammed VI of Morocco.

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