Nigerian ballpoint pen artist leaves her mark on the global art scene
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Cape Town – Nigerian ballpoint pen artist and draughtswoman, Jacqueline Suowari, has inked her way on to the global art scene, with pen in hand and a vision to put Nigerian art on the map.
Born in 1990, in the Nigerian city of Zaria, her journey into art started from the early age of 5. And for the past decade she has honed her craft creating pieces of art which over time have grown larger than life. She credits her mother for inspiring her and the strong influence that she had on her to pursue the arts.
Suowari said the more she tried to paint, the more she realised that her strength was in drawing, according to reports.
She revived her passion for drawing and stuck with it until she got representation from Avant Gallery, with spaces in Miami and New York City.
Jacqueline says that she is motivated by the power inherent in the intriguing art of drawing. She experiments with actors and models, portraying bodies in sophistication and style. Some of her pieces are so intricate that a single piece can take months to complete.
She holds a BA in Fine Art and Design and majored in painting from the University of Port Harcourt.
In a recent interview with lifestyle publication This Day Style, she was asked why she prefers using a ballpoint pen to create her masterpieces. She simply said: “I love the ballpoint pen, especially the black ballpoint pen, because it’s easy to create layers upon layers with crisp, clear strokes and also because it gives me a precise level of contrast when I’m shading.”
According to the website Avant Gallery.com, Jacqueline is motivated by the power inherent in the intriguing art of drawing.
The thousands of ballpoint pen strokes which make up every piece of her work reveal the countless hours it takes to achieve perfection in her eyes, the gallery said.
Her art representative said that in each painting, she combines various elements of design to share her experiences and inspiration with the viewers. With ballpoint pens as her primary tools, she layers each work with intricate details, composing visual narratives that explore ideas such as collective identity and human connection.
Art industry insiders say that by selecting bright colours and Afro urban themes, Suowari “ultimately achieves an artistic aesthetic full of emotion, energy and purpose”, according to Singulart.com.
She has participated in select group exhibitions in Nigeria and has been featured in notable domestic publications, including Chukwuemeka Ben Bosah’s book The Art of Nigerian Women, which chronicles some of the best artists Nigeria has to offer, writes Avant Gallery.com.
To date, her work has featured in prizes, exhibitions and publications all over the world.
In June, she showcased her first Nigerian Solo Exhibition called Now I wear myself with Retro Africa, a contemporary art gallery based in Abuja, Nigeria.
“For Jacqueline Suowari's first solo exhibition in Nigeria she positions her larger than life portraits as archetypes, transcending culture, race and time, their content going far beyond what can be conceptualised or adequately expressed by words,” said Retro Africa.
Jacqueline’s first solo show at the gallery featured portrait works rendered in drawing, installation and performance.
According to reports, in the exhibition Suowari “considers the fetishisation and condemnation of aesthetics associated with indigenous Nigerian cultures”, and tries to destigmatise subjects that are often taboo in the country, like depression, grief and shame.
She says that growing up she didn't know whether to be an artist, a poet or a dancer, so she decided to be all three.
“Somehow, I’ve been able to merge all these things together to form the Jacqueline Suowari experience,” she said in a recent interview.
The intention of the artwork was to allow Nigerians to embrace vulnerabilities, she said, encouraging them to discuss issues, including mental health, that aren’t in common discourse in Nigerian society.
The Nigerian art scene over the years has grown and expanded within and outside the country. From painting to sculpture and pottery, artists from Africa’s most populous nation are creating and telling their own stories through visual presentation.
Despite this rapid growth in the arts in Western Africa, few educational spaces and facilities exist to support creatives, thus the onus is left on artists to develop such spaces without governmental assistance and meagre financial aid, writes Quartz.com.
African News Agency (ANA)