Yomibas, is a painter best known for his hyper-realistic style. Born in Kaduna State, Nigeria, in 1995, his early work is a compilation of random photographs that depict his expressions of his experiences and observations. He developed an early interest in portraiture, exploring the power of the medium with the aim of connecting his viewers to his subjects.
Can you tell us more about your background and when you first started painting?
My full name is Abbas Yomi Segun, Born on January 15th 1995 in Nigeria and raised in kaduna state, the northern part of Nigeria. I have no background in the arts, wasn’t taught it, I learned from my life experiences. I believe our world is made of art and signs and if we know the language the world is made of then we can read our way through. Art has always been a way for me, fun and growing up it flowed effortlessly, I pretty much left everyone with a piece of art which is also a piece of myself. Money wasn’t a drive for me, thou I made little cash which helped fund my life. I literally have no idea when or how I started, I had no dreams as to what or who to become, I’ve always kept an open mind and pretty much accepted life as it happened, made my first oil painting in high school which later became know and was used for an entry. I realized there was something for me in the arts after high school, seeing the internet came through and all I had to do was make art and put this works out there, how to achieve this became my process, I had no mentor or anyone to hold my hands and say this is the part, i kept failing, learning and growing. The process became my drive.
How did you came to pursue a creative path?
My creative journey started professionally when I stumbled upon the works of Teenez Martinez on a newspaper, a highly known Nigeria pencil artist who became someone I placed on my mental pedestal and I slowly followed his steps without his knowledge and after couple emails and dms, he finally agreed to meet. We became friends and then it grew with time. So my creative path started when I started ripping out people’s works from magazines, articles and newspaper and also the internet, being a visual platform made me realize with dedication and consistency I can play my part on the art world.
Describe your evolution as a visual artist?
Evolution is key, like the famous Quote by Stephen Johnson “we build the tool and the tool builds us” so I believed in the process not only for the desired goal but also for who I will become in the process. It’s a great one but I enjoyed eating dirts and having those sleepless night because it created the desire to grow, to evolve and to become.
Do you have a favourite piece that you’ve created?
I don’t have a favorite piece so far, all pieces are extensions of myself and when put together one can make sense of my whole experience. So yeah, no favorite piece till date.
What are the central themes of your work?
My works revolves around Imagination, consciousness and the individual journey as the sole cause of the phenomena of his life. I try to portray my conscious experiences in portrait form, it’s a deliberate and conscious effort to force to viewer to see through the lenses I gave. For me, ones I have made a piece of art, then I’ve it to remind myself of what I felt when I contemplated the idea, and if I can show you then it makes the experience less acute. Like Williams Blake clearly states “Man is all imagination and all things exist in the human imagination, all that we behold thou it appears without , it is within in which this world of mortality is but a shadow. So I believe everything is taking place now, so it’s my job to pause for a minute and capture the experience. I believe it’s always the artist who senses that the future is now and thereby uses his works as a ground to prepare for tomorrow, the artist has a unique outside perspective and he is not like stuck to the empirical data’s of our society. He makes unique connections.
What can we expect to see from you in the near future? Are you working on any particular projects?
I think the base of my paintings won’t change because it says a lot about who we are as a culture and also what we have chosen to forget, so as I remember and awake to this states, I will continue to transcend them in my work but I think the base will not change which is “man is all imagination and all things exist within man, the outside world are just an extension of what takes place within him” I just rounded up my Awakening series which consisted of 12paintings completed over the course of 2years, so am open to seeing what lies ahead for me, so for now no precise projects, just collaborations. I believe as I open myself to experiencing the outside world, something will sip in for my next project.
If you could sit down and have a meal with one artist/designer/musician in the world, who would it be and why?
Without a doubt, I will take “Neville Goddard” and “Williams Blake” I have been studying their works for years now and to have that come true will just be a dream come true, besides they are dead. But to come down to contemporary structure, I would love a meal with Cj Hendry, Kehinde Wiley, Marco grasi and Mike Dargas, Just to mention a few, I chose them for the simple reason that their works have greatly impacted the way I do things and if you look closely, you will see their influences in my pieces.
Tell us a bit about where you were born and where you are living now. Are all these places important to your identity and to your artwork?
I was born and raised in Nigeria, the northern part, born in a small town called Barnawa. Had a simple upbringing, supported greatly by both parents, am the 2nd amongst 4kids to whom all were boys. Am the only one who reflected a desire for creation, was quite the task as one can’t get attention off oneself being the only creative in the house. Environment played a key role in my career part but as time went by, I realized that one has to tune into another frequency if one is to succeed or keep the fire burning, as we all know the mindset that goes with being an artist, mostly neglected and looked upon as the most irrelevant beings in society. So as I grew up, I had to make my environment within my mind, I listened to positivity 24/7 , kept a very little circle and avoided the blind desires of men who don’t know who they are. This played a key role to my process, self reliance is key to the artist and also to any career path that one chooses to follow.
Africa is a new economic frontier where young people are shaping Africa’s future. What do they want to see, hear and read that will inspire them to embrace African arts and culture?
I think art is very individual considering the fact that none can or will ever be able to think, do or act like we will. So every artist tells a story if we only we listen, no work or art is irrelevant. So I strongly believe the culture, society and minds are eagerly awaiting the manifestation of the artist, no Audience comes with expectation to see a play, they only come to be marveled, inspire , impressed or to be critical and if the play is good, you get an applause but if it’s not they won’t come back, so yeah, the artist must love solitude and believe that he/she is creating because everything with depth has a profound truth and the world awaits and hungers for truth
It can be argued that Africa’s time is now. How do we prepare to take full advantage of the opportunities that are constantly unfolding in front of us? More importantly how does the African contemporary art establishment position itself to emerge as a ‘global player’ whose voice can be heard and respected?
I will advice on this, we have to adopt the infinite mindset and not the finite mindset, the solution is to range against the dying of the light with art, with poetry, with great music and to not go quietly into the good night sleep at the moment end of the day. So the infinite mindset is one that is not about victory or losses but about a continuous struggle of adventure, curiosity, bewilderment and one of awe in which we try not to win or be first but to be, to create and to inspire, if we make this our mantra and keep in the back of our minds, not only will there be a revolution but we will set the foundation to which others will and can stand. As Allan Harrington said “we must never forget that we are cosmic revolutionaries not studious conscripted to advance the natural order that kills everyone, having invented the gods, we can turn into them” or as Williams Blake clearly states “in the universe, there are things know And there are things unknown andin between there are doors” so in my opinion if the artist is to create a genuine work he must be willingly to open that door which leads to truth and virtue.