Despite coming from a family of artists, Obinna Franklin fought through familial opposition and numerous challenges to establish himself in the Nigerian and Malaysian art markets. Obinna draws on diverse influences and experiences in his work as he continues to evolve on a journey towards conquering more art communities and making a wide-scale impact with his art. Keep reading to learn more about Obinna Franklin and his journey.
AWORANKA: Tell us about your background and how it influenced your love for art and practice.
OBINNA FRANKLIN: Growing up as a kid, for me, was a great challenge because I come from a really large family with different artistic backgrounds; like musicians, sculptors, and painters, and as much as I desired to follow my dreams, my father never liked me doing either art or music. Somehow, I found myself falling into place with art for the better part of my life.
My art experiences as a kid were influenced by the various encounters I had with one of my uncles, who is an artist, and by watching my cousins do music.
"The sole purpose of my art is to intentionally and consciously change the perspectives, emotions and reactions of the viewer or audience."
AWORANKA: How did studying and working in Malaysia influence your art career?
OBINNA FRANKLIN: Studying and working in Malaysia was challenging but the outcome was worth every experience. As a creative multimedia student, I was privileged to come across some uncomplicated art studies which changed everything for me. It was in Malaysia my art career and journey started, I was able to join a few art markets, communities’ groups and art exhibitions, etc. Being exposed to diverse art communities has positively influenced my art and widened my horizon in the art community, as well as made me more experienced and professional.
AWORANKA: What inspired your move to Lagos?
OBINNA FRANKLIN: I moved to Lagos sometime in January 2019 after my graduation from Lincoln University College, Malaysia. A few things inspired me to move to Lagos, first of which was the booming art market, then the culture and food. As an African and proud Nigerian in the diaspora, I strongly believe in the grassroots, moving to Lagos has influenced my art, style, and networking rapidly within the time period.
AWORANKA: To the best of your knowledge, how does Asian art compare with African art?
OBINNA FRANKLIN: There are many similarities between Asian and African traditional art but some differences can be found in the style and form. Asian art is diversified and complex. The Asian art market is not well promoted compared with the African art market.
AWORANKA: What do you aim to communicate with your work?
OBINNA FRANKLIN: The sole purpose of my art is to intentionally and consciously change the perspectives, emotions, and reactions of the viewer or audience. As an artist, I've always believed that the true significance and purpose of art is to give hope, peace, and joy to the soul that sees and feels it. My role in society is to ensure that I reach out to the world through artistic expressions and make an impact.
AWORANKA: Which visual artist(s) has the most influence on your practice and why?
OBINNA FRANKLIN: Pablo Picasso! He was not afraid of breaking the rules of art; he painted what he felt, saw, and encountered. He told stories with his art. He is one of the greatest of all time.
AWORANKA: What is next for you?
OBINNA FRANKLIN: I am currently working on evolving my art expertise into customized hand painting designs, footwear (particularly sneakers), clothing, and carrier bags. I have my artworks displayed in a private showroom/studio now and I wouldn't mind displaying my works anywhere in the world or breaking into more art markets.
Discover the life and insights of many more African artists in Aworanka's Interview section: