We are back with our first studio visit since lockdown, today I visited the artist Sani, among intimae ‘’Inxsanity’’ in Peckham. I was introduced to Sani through Demif Gallery’s collaboration with the Africa centre, when he spoke about his practice and current affairs including Covid-19 and the BLM movement. The first thing that you notice when talking and seeing Sani is his look... He has an amazing rasta and a nose piercing bringing a prodigal combination of Basquiat meets Afro-punk.
Sani is an excellent example of ''not judging the book by its cover''; he has a background as a highly focused, aeronautical engineering graduate with a military education, he embodies all walks of life into his artwork, vastly influenced by the existence of commonality, the multicultural society, Nigeria and gender among other topics. I would describe Inxsanity as a self-taught artist with the ability to combine Afro-surrealism with a flavour of neo-expressionism while maintaining his eclectic Afro-European identity. Sani’s work by its very nature is unsolidified, energetic and it repels taxonomy. Sani’s body of work explores identity in its totality and at the same time trying to reconcile his Nigerian roots, in this case, Fulani heritage, with his Afropean identity in a multicultural metropolitan city of London.
He doesn’t stick to one media; he chooses the most suitable media to express his thoughts and feeling especially when it comes to making a statement. One can see his work on canvas and graffiti, sculpture, video, digital art and performance art. Inxanity’s art may, or may not be perceptible or relevant to the subject matter but what he portrays is inherent in his nature, and therefore in his work.
On a personal side, he is very passionate about his community of Peckham and making his art accessible for people of this colourful community. His work demonstrates a deep desire to connect people in his direct surroundings but at the same time the desire to stay connected with his roots. The latter is clearly demonstrated by one of his works depicting a beautiful Fulani woman in traditional attire; this absolutely refers to his heritage, the soft figure has an assertive look with piercing eyes that reminds me of the Mona Lisa, she follows you wherever you are going. Up to that point of creativity, this piece is a personal reflection of everything that has defined him and contributed to his mode of existence. Another work that shows his creativity and eclecticism is the painting titled ‘Father’, which portrays a silhouette of a Fulani man, when upside down it creates a new painting highlighting and evoking the relationship between father and son, which can often be complicated but very necessary.
The thing that I find captivating about Sani aside from his exquisite art, is his ability to convey his message in a highly articulate and powerful manner, looking into Sani's work is looking into his state of mind; his Nigerian heritage which plays a central role in his work acts as a window in understanding Sani’s deep-seated thoughts. At the same time, his body of work helps you to learn something about yourself... who you are and your state of mind. He acts as a teacher, inspirator and healer. Once Sani starts to talk, you just want to hear more, without even seeing his art. All of these facets of his character are reflected in his artistic journey. One could say that his art touches on various aspects such wrapped in surrealism, whilst unconventional, it’s empowering, it provides freedom of thought with a touch of neo-expressionism. One of the topics that are close to his heart is assisting young artists to gain recognition and to participate in the wider artistic discourse. He believes that representation of young especially black artists in the UK is necessary as it is mostly written and spoken about without their consent, not coming from the artist’s but the viewer. He is determined to change this by offering his locus as a way of amplifying the voices that are sometimes considered as background noise.
Sani is one of these young leaders of his community who expresses his heritage and culture to the fullest, he acknowledges his past, he fully understands the present and he certainly is here to change the future, through his art, community engagement with an aspiration of inspiring his surroundings in a very profound way. Art is just the beginning and he has a bright future in front of him... I am looking forward to his latest body of work and hope to collaborate in his quest of giving young artists, especially those in the diaspora a voice. Watch this space