A quick glance at Nana Frimpong Oduro‘s Instagram page is all that is required to keep you engrossed in the creative genius that his work is. His Instagram page is a rabbit hole; you keep moving from one photo to another, and another – lost in the beauty of his works.
Nana Frimpong Oduro calls his art Surreal Realism.
Like many artists would say, art is a way of expressing one’s self and finding meaning in our existence as humans. It isn’t different for Nana. In his Instagram bio, he says he cannot write poems, so he makes them into art. And that is true – his artwork are poetic, images that sing to your soul and call you from within.
In searching for ways to express himself better, Nana deferred his course in architecture in 2018 and veered into the arts. He says, “I was in a dark place and art is light to me.” He was yearning to do something different and when he found his kind of art, he stuck with it.
Nana’s art explores people’s struggles with themselves, the fight between one’s body and spirit, the many parts of our split personalities, the war that rages in our bellies, and our mental struggles. In the same vein, his art shows how desperately humans cling to life and how we try, frantically, to protect ourselves from ourselves and also from the world. No matter how hard life is, or how intense our mental struggles become, we hold on to the bit of us that makes us exist.
When asked why, in his art, people are mostly headless, their heads in their arm, Nana smiles coyly and says, “The head stands for our homes, where we do everything. In my art, people protect their heads.”
Even though he’s always trying to say something through his work, Nana says he sometimes does not know the meaning of his art.
I give people the freedom to interpret it the way they want.
People gives meaning to art based on their own life experiences and thought processes, and Nana giving us the freedom to decide what his art means to us is simply golden.
Being a Ghanian artist living and working in Ghana, Nana’s experience has been good so far, although it could be better.
In Ghana, it’s amazing, people love art and they are always ready to hype your work. It makes you want to do more.
Still, it is not all roses for him, especially when this love does not metamorphose into money. Being an artist may settle Nana’s immediate financial needs, but it is not enough to give him a ‘soft life’.
People like art, but they don’t purchase art. The economic situation does not make art one of our primary goals.
What then can we do to make people take the arts seriously?
We should make art like art. Art needs to be interesting. People think those who want to go into arts do so because they are dullards. Artists are geniuses and people don’t know this. Let’s have more art schools, art fairs, shows. We should get more art galleries and events. When we organise art fairs, feature artists’ works and people come there, it sparks their interest and encourages artists.
Thankfully, Nana has been trying to do this. In 2019, he did an exhibition and invited two other artists with different art movement. That also helped his career and boosted his confidence.
Contrary to many people’s beliefs, being an artist is not all colours, brushes and cookies; it is hard work. Writers suffer from writers’ block, but what would someone like Nana suffer from, creative block? Ha!
He says his life is so simple, and he never forces his inspiration, and yes! You would agree that when you do not force creativity, it flows.
I have a picture in my mind, I draw a sketch, then I look for a good location, a model(s), and then shoot the image. Most of the models are my friends, so I don’t have to pay them. After that, I edit the photos using Photoshop and Lightroom.
Being grateful is one way Nana sharpens his ingenuity.
I look back and see where I started from, how I am now, how people get inspired by my artwork. I see my growth.
It doesn’t end there, Nana sees himself as a big household name, people wanting his arts from all parts of the world.
Wanna know Nana’s best part about being a creative?
I’m serving people. This is God expressing himself in me. God wants to create art and he uses people like me.
BN Creatives’ Corner is a series that gives creatives living and working in Africa the platform to showcase their work, talk about their journey, struggles and highlights of being creatives in Africa. Last month, we told the story of Anne Adams who bends clay to create stunning artwork. Did you miss it? Read it here.
Many thanks to Nana Frimpong Oduro for sharing his journey with us. You can see more of his work on Instagram: @frizzlemadeit.