The Holistic Artist: an interview with Laolu Senbanjo

Note: The situation is not real…but the interview is…

Here I am, trying to get his attention while he runs around, answering calls and giving law advice to someone at the other end of the call. Hmpf. To think he would give me his whole undivided attention was too much to think of…though I knew it would be fantasy to get his attention now. Artist, lawyer, singer…what more can this guy bag under his name?

Finally, Laolu sits down, a tired look on his face. Tired but content. He turns and looks at me, almost pleading with his eyes, the need to rest. But nope, I won’t let him. I am here and we are doing this interview. With an evil smile on my face, I start:

Ok, first off, tell us who you are?

First of two children.I’m from Ogun State, in Nigeria .I’m a bachelor I studied law at the University of IIorin. I attended the Nigerian Law School, Abuja. I have participated in various art exhibitions (British Council W.A.P.I., Art Pyramid Exhibitions at the Transcorp Hilton Abuja).I just recently concluded my solo art exhibition in collaboration ith the korean embassy(‘the afro myserics) . I love to do music, I play the guitar, and I’m a singer and music producer. I’m the kind of person who likes to have fun while I work… I use art to express my views, forms and imaginations. My art portray images with deep conotations and messages which stem from african culture and tradition.

Ok, ok, I know. From the way he was answering and slowing down, he was practically asleep. So I had to think of a question that was a bit painful for him. So I make a move…

What happened? You are an artist who became a lawyer who went back to his roots of artistry or you are just a lawyer who got tired of the courts?

A tiny spark came back to his eyes. I am getting him back…I think…

I would rather say from arts to law  and back to arts(basics) because I have been drawing right from my secondary school days. I did Fine Arts in my WAEC (West African Examinations Council) exams and had a distinction. I’ve always had a strong passion for arts…

His eyes are slowly drifting away again, he is getting too relaxed. I do not like this. Aha, a complicated question…

Now, afromysterics. You said on your website, it is the mystery of the African thought pattern. How can you explain this?


Laolu…dude…wake up, men. You are right in the middle of an interview, don’t do this to me…

Ohhhhhh, Amsa, leave me alone…

Just answer and I would be out of here in no time.

Ok, fine…Afromysterics was coined by me. Its my art. It means the mystery of the African thought pattern. The works are essentially inspired by African themes, culture, situations and traditions…it’s a collection of drawings on pastel and canvas rendered in charcoal and acrylic. its something like the language of my art. The drawings speak of mysteries which cannot be comprehended by the shallow minded. It tells stories. They are full of meaning and deep spiritual connotations. Art is what you call it, life is what you make it. Nothing in life happens by accident. Every symbol has a meaning, every face has an expression and different patterns tell their own story. Its the journey of an expression that has no boundaries. So, Afromysterics seeks to communicate the elevated emotions that are born from a deeper mythical inspiration. So in the artwork, I kinda look at myself, look at the fact that I am doing what I am doing, not because I have purposely chosen my path but its something that a divine creator, the source of all energy has actually pre-destined me to do what I am doing. Olodumare is often regarded as the infinite ruler of the heavens and earth, no gender, so when you look  at the art works, you see all the heads are one, then the Creator picks one and decides what the head would achieve, their place in divinity. Its a point in time when every human head is identified in the all mighty…Olodumare….

Your choice of tool, Charcoal. You did say that it is one of the oldest materials artists have used all around the world. But apart from its history, do you feel there is more to charcoal being just a tool for you?

I just love the way it dissolves on white pastel surface. It allows for intricate details in shades of monochrome it also encourages a free expressive style. It can be deliberately blended to create moody and atmospheric effect, which is very appealing. Besides that, charcoal dates back to 30,000 years B.C. It was used to make some of the earliest cave paintings, which can still be viewed today. Also masters like Matisse and Piccasso have made notable works in charcoal. Also charcoal art works are very classy and uncommon.

Now, your second exhibition showcased a lot of your works. Which one was the most dear to you and why?

He thinks for a moment, then suddenly starts scanning around the room, looking, searching, and finally his eyes settle on a small piece of art hanging on his walls. He always keeps copies around him, you know…just in case…he points at it.

That’s a tough question. But, I’ll choose ‘AYANMO’   Ayanmo symbolises  what has been predestined by Olodumare, irrespective of the circumstances of  birth. Can the clay complain against the potter?

Gesturing with his hands, he says…

Behind every activity of man is the unseen hand,  eyes and legs that move the physical. While many gainlessly toil hard, others seem to benefit from unexplainable favour and grace. This work is really important to me because of the message it carries. You can see everything starts from the center and ends back at the center. You can see the head, Ori in yoruba and this symbolizes culture and tradition so when you talk about Ayanmo, you talk about predestined destiny.

You are not only a lawyer, you are an artist as well as a musician. How are you able to feed off your channels in a way that they don’t affect the quality of your work and can still stand out as masterpieces on their own?

I believe each and everyone of us has a gift that is unique. One thing  that keeps me on my toes is: just be creative and give it your best shot. Be it in music or art.

You haven’t released a album yet. Why?

The album is cooking and very soon I will be coming to a city near you…

He looks at me, still pleading with his eyes. A little smile playing on his lips. He knows he owes me another interview. The next one would be all about his music and what makes him tick. I finally accept defeat and up gather my stuff.

As I leave, I wonder how he manages to juggle everything. No wonder he is always dog tired. Anyway, I am definitely locking him again…one of these days…

So, to give a taste of some his music (i don`t think he has coined a name for his type though…for now), here is a video of Kemi, one of his singles. Enjoy…

4 thoughts on “The Holistic Artist: an interview with Laolu Senbanjo

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