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Inside the Studio: Khalid Balogun

Written by Caroline Haller

Nigerian born, Balogun is a self-taught artist whose graphite drawings are earning him recognition, such as a certificate at the National Gallery of Art in Lagos State. Balogun was born in 2002 in Warri, Delta, but moved to Lagos to finish his education. Inspired by his upbringing near a lagoon, Balogun is interested in representing nature, the moving water, flowers, landscape and natural elements.

Balogun has an affinity for the color green and his nature specific mantra, “Creating scenery with voices,” explains his attempt to create a sense of presence in the landscapes he draws and paints. Additionally, he is also a writer and poet. He won a writing award for an essay competition in 2017. The marriage of his artworks and verses shows his attachment to the landscapes he depicts. In 2019, he exhibited in a group exhibition at the University of Lagos. Since then, he has made it his aim to develop his artistic career.

Recently, Balogun just celebrated his first solo exhibition “Nature’s Muse” at the Jelosimi Art Center in Lagos State! The exhibition was separated into three parts: When Nature Shines, Nature’s Aesthetics, and Apeja.

One of the works featured in the exhibition was Apeja 2, a black and white charcoal drawing. In the Yoruba language, Apeja refers to a fisherman. Balogun’s little figure representing his 93-year-old grandfather can be seen off to the left midground. Balogun’s grandfather was a fisherman in Epe, a town in Lagos state, known for its fishing industry.

Follow him on Instagram @khalidbalogun02

I had the privilege of asking Balogun a few questions to learn more about the “Nature’s Muse” exhibition and his process in the studio. Read on to learn what I’ve found out!

Can you discuss your current exhibition, “Nature’s Muse” at the Jelosimi Art Center in Lagos now through January 15th? How did it come to be and what are the different categories of artworks you are exhibiting?

I’ll be exhibiting 3 major series of work:

1. Nature’s Aesthetics

2. When Nature Shines

3. Apeja

The idea of the Nature’s Muse Exhibition came after a group of exhibitions by one of my closest mentors Sobayo Abolore, the owner of Jelosimi Art Center. I was amazed by the turn out of people and the amazing caliber of artists gathered in one room. I also thought about that being a chance to showcases my works and asked Mr. Sobayo if it would be possible to have an exhibition in his place. He gave me two options. The first being to produce 5 unrevealed artworks and call other artists for a group exhibition or to produced 20 new and unviewed artworks in order to have a solo show. Of course, I chose the solo show option.

You have referred to your artistic process as “Creating Scenery with Voices.” Can you explain what you mean by that?

It’s my slogan. It expressed the fact that I’m a landscape artist. It is a sort of metaphoric placement to my art style. I want my art to make you feel present, to speak to my intellect. I also fancy myself a poet, whose art works alongside poems to express ambiguates, if viewed closely.

How has your experience growing up in Lagos influenced your artworks?

Most art shows in Nigeria take place in Lagos and most artists in Nigeria reside in Lagos. This helped develop my inspiration very early. I could easily visit older artists’ studios and attend art shows. This widened my horizon.

What does a day look like when you are making art? What about days when you aren’t creating? What do they look like?

The days I’m making art are very interesting, but also very lonely. These are the days I look inside myself and reflect on the world around me. Other days I read, hang out with friends and chill. Some days are more social but are not the ones I look forward to.

Where do you typically create your works of art? Do you sketch outside first and finish later? Or do you complete them start to finish outside? Can you explain your studio or artistic working space?

For now, I work mostly indoors, as I deal with the Graphite medium, which has an unwanted shine in the presence of sunlight. But, when I paint oil on canvas, I prefer to paint outdoors due to the smell of chemicals or I just leave the doors and windows open.

What projects are next for you? Or what themes do you think will begin to find their way into your works next?

I particularly like this question. I am going to majorly focus on oil paintings for my next solo show and this time there’ll be a lot of colour play and flexibility. I would like to add themes that will have intrinsic meaning that might not be completely unraveled.

Finally, how do you connect to nature?

I feel very connected to water in motion, particularly waterfalls. It revives my energy in a way that I can’t seem to explain. Watching nature shower us with so much bounty, filling fields, revitalizing and bringing life, spreading calm and goodness to the world around us. I’m a great fan of Vietnamese waterfalls. Particularly, the Pangour waterfall in Vietnam. One of the largest bodies of water with a waterfall in the world. I wish to go there someday. Definitely on my bucket list.


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