Interview with Arinze Stanley
Your subject matter is often of African decent. Being that you reside in Nigeria, do you enjoy painting public figures and people from your literal surroundings? Is your work meant to bring attention to your culture?
Yes. A lot of my drawings are of people of African decent, I see a lot of art but I don’t see a lot of my people represented so I try to bring the spotlight here, to my home, and Africa so I can be able to tell our stories, share our struggles, and speak against things affecting my society.
Some of your portraits appear to have such emotional rage or anger to them while others convey a certain warmth and deep sense of comfort. Is that your emotional state flowing through your pieces or are the subjects allowing themselves to be vulnerable around you?
I draw what I know, feel and have experienced. Like I have always said, I also feel like my art is like energy transfer, when I pick up my pencils and start drawing I feel that transfer moving from me to my artworks through my pencils. Also, when I work with my subjects, I like to get personal with them, understand their emotional disposition and also create a bond that allows me express what they feel as we take almost 500 to 1000 photos before I finally choose one.
I met you while you were in New York at your first solo show at Jonathan LeVine Projects. You were the focus of the last show within that space and I found it to be remarkable as we stayed in touch ever since. How did that show affect your career and were other doors and opportunities given to you after that show?
My experience with Jonathan LeVine gallery during my debut solo show was priceless. I believe it opened a lot of opportunities for me, both as an internationally exhibiting artist and as a Nigerian. I realized I could get a lot more people to get hear my stories. Also I have had a lot of exhibition requests from a lot of galleries, which is so humbling.
Have you ever thought of using other mediums besides charcoal and graphite? If you could learn a new medium- what would it be and why?
I have tried so many media for my art but I find that I am more connected to charcoal and graphite as I have always been surrounded by a lot of paper during my childhood as my father owns a paper converting company so I had a lot of a paper and pencils to play with. Pencils have always been my favorite toys to play with- so I have a history with this medium and I feel I have to some extent perfected my relationship with charcoal and graphite.