A chat with Ola Bale, Nigeria’s polystyrene sculptor
Are you able to mentor people to follow in this style?
Absolutely, mentoring is one thing I love to do. For me it’s a way of giving back what I have learnt from the great masters, my experiences to my community or the society at large.
What themes do you focus on with your work and why?
I derive my artistic inspirations from nature, as well as, my immediate environment. This is evident in the thematic choices for my artistic explorations. As such, diverse musical instruments like guitars, and drums; domestic animals like lizards, fishes and birds; household utensils, the northern landscapes, and several other items and entities, found in the day-to-day existence of man, are incorporated in most of my abstracted and naturalized expressions. Hence, my art has been seen to address salient social and political issues; some of which have their traditional and political inclinations.
How has your art transformed over the years and what has influenced the transformation?
From executing an above life size sculptures in the past years to recently productions of monumental sized statues without fear. To me that’s a major transformation for me.
What are your favourite tools and materials to work with and why?
I have worked with several materials and still do depending on the nature of the piece I am working on or based on the client’s order. But in recent time I work mostly with polystyrene and reinforced fibre because of its malleability, easy and fast to work with.
Could you tell us about your most difficult piece yet?
Well I am always of the school of thought that everything looks or seems difficult until you put your mind and energy towards conquering it.
How are you able to convey your emotions in your works?
First of all, I create a mind map focused on the subject matter that comes to mind. From there, I explore various themes and subjects that relate to the word. I try to exhaust all possibilities, exploring everything that I could until I am sure there were absolutely no more related ideas left.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment I am working on a life sized lion sculpture and a horse sculpture and several conceptual drawings.
A horse head piece by the artist at the Fifth Chukker Resort, Kaduna