This week’s Spotlight Artist is Damilola Oshilaja: an emerging multi-disciplinary artist who is a recent Master of Arts graduate in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Damilola began Grunge Studios (his Fine Art practice) in 1998, and he has had numerous shows in Europe; he has been shortlisted, and won a number of awards and prizes including The Artists’ and Collectors’ Bursary (UAL).
Damilola Oshilaja was born in Westminster, London United Kingdom but it was in Lagos, Nigeria at the age of seven, when his ascendancy into art began. At the age of fifteen, he also had his first residency in Lagos, at the Opaque Studios.
Damilola calls his artistic practice Grunge Studios. To learn a bit more about this practice, and about Damilola himself, we asked him some questions.
Can you tell us something more about Grunge Studios and Grunge Art practice?
Grunge Studios is the name of my artistic practice; I have always enjoyed naming or titling things – When I was about ten, I named my first bicycle, which was a Raleigh, Lightning. I use the word Grunge to describe my practice because, back in 1998 when I started as a teenager, my friends described my dress-sense as very grungy. To me, it made perfect sense to establish my practice with the name Grunge Studios, because as an artist my interests included abstract/semi-abstract work, figurative art, and graffiti. The works I created then were disparate and contained all these values. At some point, I combined the three mentioned variables to give rise to Arte Grunge.
A lot of people immediately think of the music genre when you talk about grunge, do you see a link between the two?
Grunge as a word is obviously linked to music, but also fashion. In fact it is this link that inspires my appellation of the word GRUNGE in art. In fashion, as well as music, grunge is used to describe a fusion of things that should not go together, but evidently works, together. This is the same basic philosophy I apply to Arte Grunge. It wasn’t until a while after that I realised the meaning – prior to which I do believe Grunge hasn’t existed in art, as I have put it. For me Arte Grunge is everything, and its design stretches beyond my perception of it.
How are you enjoying the Debut Contemporary scheme so far?
The Debut Contemporary scheme as scheduled looks interesting and very dynamic. I appreciate the attention to my requirements, and the prospects look good. Its cool. So far so good.
What are your big dreams?
I have many big dreams, but a few of them include wishes: to see the Aurora Borealis, and create new works of art from my expedition to Scandinavia; I would like to see my work hang at the Tate Modern; and I want to exhibit at The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Japan.
Is there anything you regret?
I tend not to regret, or hold on to negative energy of this sort.
Do you have an interesting fact to share with us?
I could have become an athlete, rather than an artist. I was a sprinter specialising in 100 metres (with moderate accolades in the 200 metres and long jump). I was pretty good with a personal best time of just over ten seconds (at the age of fifteen), and I won a few medals for my secondary school and also at under-17 level. I even represented Brunel University, which was my first university.