Chinedu Louis Duru and his wife, Lolo Duru, are from Imo State, in South Eastern Nigeria. Chinedu is a full time artist while Lolo runs her food business, in addition. While Lolo learned how to paint from her husband, Chinedu always had an artistic bent.
CHINEDU: As a child, I rarely played with friends, much to their mockery as I was always busy doing one creative thing or the other. I always saw faces in cracked walls, which everyone around me thought was crazy. Sometimes I use my chalk to map out the faces for them. Over time, I eventually enrolled in a tertiary institution to study Fine Arts. Before I moved, I worked as an intern with an interior decorator and during my break time, I drew. When my boss saw my work, he encouraged me to study art and forget about Law, which I really wanted to do at the time. I moved to Lagos in 2011 and started working at the art market. My wife was here in Lagos before me, she was working in another store, we got marrieed and I taught her how to paint.
LOLO: We met here in the market in 2014. I was working in another store, totally unrelated to what he does. We dated, got married and he introduced me to art. It was not something I initially considered as a career, but along the line, I found out that I was good at it.
WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED SO FAR?
CHINEDU: My major challenge is being able to make a living from selling art. I have always worked on developing a unique point of view for my art and in creating one of a kind pieces that buyers won’t find elsewhere. It is hard for artists to sell when there is the same thing in every store. This is my only means of survival.
LOLO: I would say sales as well. That is why we decided that I would start a food business to support our art just so we can diversify our income. We have two kids to care for. Another challenge is location and accessibility. Most of my friends on social media admire my work but they cannot come down here to make a purchase.
WHAT IS YOUR STYLE?
CHINEDU: When I was a child, I used to see faces on the cracks in the wall. I still see them so after I started painting professionally, I decided to focus on it. Normally, I do not like painting on flat surfaces and that is what inspires the faces you see here in my studio. Painting faces on wood is my identity, something no one else does here. Can you tell that I am addicted to Art? (Laughs).
LOLO: It took me awhile to find my style, which is mixed media. I like to work with Ankara and other materials. My husband and I work together sometimes. He paints while I add either coconut pieces, Ankara or any other medium that speaks to me.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ART?
CHINEDU: I love metal sculpture. I was into it at a time but stopped because of my eyes. I am aging now and it becomes difficult to work at night. I really love metal sculpture.
LOLO: My favorite art is a piece I made and titled ‘Lolo’. It’s mixed media and I love the detailing.
WHAT ARE YOUR ASPIRATIONS FOR OUR ART?
BOTH: We would love our art to go round the world.
WOULD YOU LIKE YOUR KIDS TO BE ARTISTS TOO?
LOLO: I do not mind if the kids grow up and choose a different career path. I would love my kids to be artistically inclined however, I would also encourage them to pursue whatever they are interested in doing.