Chiche_Art and His Surreal Journey: An 11-Question Interview

Exclusive Interview With Chiche_Art, Winner of the People’s Choice Award, 2023 Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize by Aurore Phipps

Nigerian artist John Chichetam Okoronta, commonly known as the artist Chiche_Art, offers a refreshing take on surrealism and hyperrealism by making both interact. This approach allows him to tell stories that bring life to the people he draws as if they were the characters of a surreal novel.

Chiche_Art has not only refined the art of storytelling but has also provided an incredible outlook on artistry by yielding techniques in service of almost photorealistic creations. It is the tension between technique and dreaminess that charmed the hearts of spectators all over the world.

My Time Is Mine by Chiche_Art
My Time is Mine
Charcoal and Graphite Pencils on Watercolour Paper
Beautiful Bizarre Art Prize 2023 People’s Choice Award

Chiche_Art finds beauty in the imperfect. He finds it in contemplation and solitude. He finds it in time as well. The artist’s subjects reappropriate their subjective and physical spaces to pierce through the veil between our world and theirs. The faces Chiche_Art draws have a curious familiarity to them. A sort of air of recognition as if we had met them in real life, by the corner of a store or the pavement of a road. Faces that haunt us and follow us through life like sweet recollections of humanity and its allure.

Hyperrealism is in some ways, a reappropriation of what is considered real. Chiche_Art slightly bends it in his favor, molds it according to his artistic standards, and takes us on his journey through this process. Reality is a movement of emergence, stabilization, and disappearance; the image is the arrested moment of one of these moments of evolution. In some ways, the attempt of art to capture reality is in itself, a materialization of time.

By exploring topics such as growth, identity, or mental health, Chiche_Art connects his artistic practice with the minds of the viewers as well as their inner lives. In his winning artwork, “My Time Is Mine”, he shows a young man reclaiming his time and to some extent, his power in the face of never-ending demands of productivity and perfection.

Chiche_Art is now a part of the Beautiful Bizarre Artist directory. He gracefully accepted to answer our questions as the Winner of the Beautiful Bizarre People’s Choice Award 2023.

How would you define or characterize your journey as an artist?

My journey is in its totality a learning phase. With each art I create, the idea behind it opens me to a broader knowledge about myself and those around me.

Have you, Chiche_Art, always known you wanted to be a painter?

No, I didn’t. But I knew my love for arts and crafts was so much because I built a lot of toys while growing up and also did a lot of drawings and paintings. I had so much joy doing them and played with many media that shaped my growth.

What are the three words that describe best Chiche_Art and his artistic process?

Patience, Surreal, Persistence.

The art community in Nigeria is growing rapidly and the world is gradually gazing their focus on Nigerian artists.

Your work seems to take on a very realistic approach… how important is realism to Chiche_Art?

Realism is very important to me. It is the breath that brings life into my drawings. My figures are emotive and with realism, they feel like they are among us. More like you can touch and relate to every story they embody.

We’ve encountered many talented Nigerian artists and you seem to be one of them… do you think there is a culture of artistic excellence in Nigeria?

Yes! I feel so. Nigerian youth are talented especially when encouraged. The art community in Nigeria is growing rapidly and the world is gradually gazing their focus on Nigerian artists. There is also a form of encouragement that is fueling our motivation to do more.

What do you want people to take from your art? What is the journey Chiche_Art wants viewers to embark on?

Growth! I just want my audience to become more introspective are encountering my work. The kind of feeling that would leave wanting to feel so much better than you were as a person. Accepting oneself as they are, but not settling instead working to become better versions of themselves.

In My Solitude by Chiche_Art

My art as a whole has even helped me employ patience in many areas of my personal life.

Walk us through a typical day of creation so the readers can have a more detailed idea of your creative process on a practical/technical level.

A typical day might not capture the full ideation process, but I will try. I make rough sketches to bring the idea out in the physical and when I am satisfied with the result, I look for references that will fit perfectly. I shoot the models myself most time or even model the pose to the desired composition. I go ahead to create a final sketch if I’m satisfied and gradually I build up my textures and shades and the drawing is alive.

Your painting « My Time Is Mine » seems to be a way to materialize the reclamation of your time… Do you feel, as an artist, that you’re always engaged in a race against time?

I don’t think as an artist I’m in a race against time. This is because patience is one of the virtues I tend to hold dear. My art as a whole has even helped me employ patience in many areas of my personal life.

Perfectly Imperfect by Chiche_Art

Why did you enter the Beautiful Bizarre Magazine Art Prize?

I entered because my art resonates with the general theme of beautiful bizarre art prize. Also, some artists I admire have at some point In their career participated in the art prize. Seeing them come out tops in the competition is a huge inspiration for me.

What do you, Chiche_Art, feel you have gained from this experience?

Winning the People’s Choice Awards was a confidence boost for me and I am encouraged to do better. Also, I have gotten a few connections which I believe would be beneficial and also looking forward to more.

Would you recommend it and encourage others to enter? If so, why?

Definitely! I have already started recommending it to other artists and some reached out to tell me how much of an inspiration I was to them. It’s also a large avenue to put out ones work to a wider audience.

Head In Clouds by Chiche Art

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