Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Nkiacha Atemnkeng interviews Ndedi Asek: The Painter Extraordinaire!

Ever heard about this young, stylish and brainy fineboy painter and writer? Well, if you have never heard about him, you may have stumbled upon one of his exquisite artistic works online. His name is Ndedi Asek and he is quickly making a name for himself as one of Cameroon’s finest painters/graphic illustrators both at home and abroad. His colourful and imaginative paintings cannot be bundled up into a single category. They are so diverse, ranging from the surrealist, Afrocentric, scientific and even futuristic, with its vivid imagery evoking a soothing sensation in a way that astounds the human mind.

Art about Nuclear disarmament
Biography: Ndedi Asek was born and raised in Kumba, Cameroon, where he had his elementary and primary education. At the age of 9, he moved to Kano in northern Nigeria where he pursued his Junior Secondary Education (JS1 to JS3). He got to learn and master the culture, language of the Hausa clan since it was officially taught in schools, alongside Igbo and Yoruba. After JS3, He moved back to Cameroon, where he completed the rest of his secondary and tertiary education at Saint Francis College Kumba and the University of Buea. Upon graduation with a Second Class Upper honours degree, he went back to Lagos for his Post graduate education where he earned an MBA. He worked briefly in Nigeria before returning to Cameroon. Until recent years, He’s been switching between both territories. In his own words, "his blood is shared on both sides”. I caught up with him after a visit to my city, Douala and he accepted that, I'll interview him for my blog.

Nkiacha: When we first met twelve years ago in high school in Saint Francis College Kumba, you were a budding writer, publishing banging writing in “The Beacon” College magazine. We both teamed up as student editors of the journal, under the guidance of our wonderful principal, Fr. Basile Sede aka Pe-teh and mentorship of Mr. Mue-Nkeme Basil aka Pa Ba and did some great editorial/writing work that was lauded by many Fesans and readers of the magazine alike. How do you feel about those past moments and the work we did all those years ago?

Asek: Looking back at my time in St. Francis College, I must say, that was one of the greatest gifts God ever granted to me. To be under the pupilage of a principal who was an educationist and great motivator (Father Basile Sede) helped to nurture the personality I have today. I got to be trained by Pa Ba! One of the most creative, writing geniuses I will ever meet in my lifetime. He helped to mould my writing skills to the level that even the gods of writing will feel threatened. Lol. It is no doubt that you and I, who were under his mentorship, went ahead to achieve National Awards. I won the Best philosophy thesis award (Cameroon) in 2007 and your articles about the fuel cell and microchip in the Inter School Physics Essay writing competition emerged as the runner-up. You have now gone on to achieve international acclaim with your writing. Pa Ba nurtured us to be prolific writers and even editors at that tender age. When I think about that era, I just feel blessed.

Nkiacha: Wow, la belle époque! Un souvenir a vie! You just boarded me on Jules Verne’s time machine buddy. I also recall that, it was due to "The Beacon" and Pa Ba's encouragement that really sparked my interest in creative writing. Well, interestingly, these days your artistic priorities have suddenly shifted from writing to painting and graphic illustrations which I must applaud has got immense depth. But what triggered that artistic shift to the visual angle?

Asek: My artistic reformation came in the form of a spiritual reawakening and revaluation of the beauties of life. Aesthetics and creative writing have always been a part of me right from the tender age. But along the line, I became this bitter, superficial and vague human…Well, fortunately, I had this drastic transformation in my life in 2014 and the only way I could express the true essence of my being was through visual arts. But lately, I’ve gone back to writing poetry and will definitely commence the writing of my Afro-centric Sci-Fi novel ‘Blunt Ego’ soon.

NKiacha: Hmmm, I can’t wait to devour what you are cooking, it smells good, strong literary spices you've got in there. So how can you describe your visual art and what inspires you to come up with such mind blowing works?

Asek: With regards to my art, I try not to put myself in a box. My works accommodate all branches of art like: landscape, portrait, surrealism, futuristic, contemporary and Afro-centric arts, to name a few. But I’m a pro-African futuristic artist. I express that both in traditional and digital arts projects I carry out. My inspiration is gotten from the wonders and simplicities of everyday life; experiences I’ve had and the crazy twists of my imagination.

Nkiacha: I fondly call them "picturesque pictures" (linguists leave me alone sha, I can hear the monotony utterances already). Sometimes I brain kid with the idea that you’re Leonardo Da Vinci’s illegitimate son he had with a Cameroonian woman in the past. Lol. No disrespect to your parents, just a silly idea. Whoa, check this out!

Asek:  Hahaha. Thanks for bestowing me with such a noble title. I'm always grateful when I see my talent appreciated, especially by people I hold in high regard!

Nkiacha: Okay, you’ve recently launched an initiative dubbed Asek Arts. Tell me more about it and your highest artistic achievements so far with it.

Asek Arts came as result of me assessing the origin of my art. I paint based on the mechanizations of my mind. Every artwork I create is purely from my imagination. I hardly use reference images except in portraits. In that light, Asek Arts is simply the type of art which is “Asek-centric”. And it keeps evolving as my knowledge of life deepens. In terms of achievements, I must say, I’m truly blessed. I’ve achieved most of my goals for this year, as far as art is concerned. I’m working on many creative projects with different collaborators, and I must affirm that, I am deeply humbled by the extent to which my brand has solidified in this field. But my highest achievement so far has been my Art Expo at the prestigious Patcha Foundation Charity and Networking Event for cancer at KIA Motors in Douala.

Nkiacha: Man, I was at that special event. Your paintings were all sold out except for one! That’s awesome. So how was it like being on cloud nine artistically at the Patcha event?

Asek: Hmmm, with regards to the Patcha Foundation Charity and Networking Event at KIA Motors in Douala, I believe that was one of the most precious moments of my life! It is all by God’s doing. In as much as the devil tried to prevent me from smoothly accomplishing my objectives for the event, (I got stuck in a traffic hold up in Bonaberi thus arrived late and couldn't do the live painting I was initially scheduled to do). The hurdle was overcome with my Art Expo though. The reception and support my art received at the event was mind-blowing. I am also indebted to Mrs Adeline Sede Kamga whom you connected me to and I contacted her. She was impressed with my work and she is now rigorously promoting it. Displaying my arts in such a prestigious platform is every artist’s fantasy. And the contacts and exposure I had at the event is priceless! I know God has bigger plans for me. So, I’m just going be steadfast in my faith in Him.

Nkiacha: Amen!

Nkiacha: So what are your plans for the future buddy?

Asek: With regards to art, I have plans to solidify my brand and intensify the cooperation I have with innovative individuals, in order to come up with original creative arts scheme in the multi-dimensional sectors. Personally, I intend to come up with an animated  cartoon series, Children’s Book; The infusion of Live-painting based on emotions; Graphic Novel; build an art-based clothing line; Create a School for Fine Art in order to nurture and develop creativity of potential artists, and many other projects. With God’s help and relentless hard work, I believe all these future projects will come to fruition.

Nkiacha: How ambitious! Sort of reminds me of the character Rancho in the Bollywood movie, “3 idiots”. But you’re not an idiot. So, what if you have five children and they all tell you they want to become painters. Will you hurl your paint brushes at their heads and bellow in their eardrums that they should become doctors/engineers like most parents do or will you let them chase their dreams?

Asek: Five children! Haha. You wan kill me!

Nkiacha: Ah ha, 2 Face Idibia has got eight children noh. Or is it eighteen? (Flees) And talking about faces, you've got a scary "face" juju painting. Grrrrrrr, run for your lives!

Asek: Haha, you're funny. But seriously, on the contrary, I will instead encourage them to pursue art. The knowledge of art will help you in whatever field of studies you wish to embark on. In my case, my parents, never discouraged me in my pursuit of art-making. Even if I was making paper-men and chalking up the whole house, I never remember an instant where, I wasn’t encouraged to create art. My mum for example is an outstanding artist. Her sketches are incredible! So, I will instead encourage my future kids to embark on creative art-making, since it goes along to boost the working of one’s mind and therefore easily accommodate other areas of studies. There are doctors, engineers, teachers who are painters.  For example, I also have a life outside painting. Art easily compliments with other professions. For me, apart from the regular jobs, children should also be trained to enhance their creative skills. Those are what makes us human and not programmed machines.

Nkiacha: Indeed. Nastu, thank you for granting this interview and for painting my blog logo homey. It’s a magnificent piece. 

Asek: Thank you too, my long time good friend!

The End.

Alright, do you want to contact Ndedi Asek for some high quality art? Go meet am for yah!

Phone number: (00237) 654038505 or 695192252
Email: asekarts@gmail.com
Facebook: Asek Arts
Personal Facebook page: Ndedi Asek
Instagram: iam_asek
Twitter: iam_nastu

The Patcha Foundation Networking event to raise awareness, support and funding, for the fight against Cancer at KIA Motors, Bonanjo, Douala.

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