Oil on canvas, 150cm x 150cm (November 2015)
O Yemi : "As with many African countries, Nigeria is rich in agricultural products and many natural resources. Before the advent of petroleum oil, cocoa, coffee, groundnuts, palm oil and other agricultural products were the main sources of Nigeria’s wealth. Since the early 1970s and the petroleum oil boom era, the Nigerian government’s attention has concentrated mainly on oil and the revenue it generates. Very few Nigerians have become very wealthy through oil money while oil pollution of air, water and farm lands has made millions of Nigerians extremely poor. This is what influenced this painting.
As an artist who originated from Nigeria, O Yemi was moved by the plight of his people from the Niger Delta where oil pollution affects the lives and livelihood of the people.
In developing this idea, he put some of the images he found online together graphically in his computer. He started to use ‘subtractive’ painting, a technique used by many illustrators in various ways. He did a very finished pencil drawing then coated the drawing with oil. This requires very little opaque work as the half-tone drawing beneath is similar to a tinted photo he was using as reference. After the well-detailed drawing, he started to apply colours to the painting.
He started from the top painting the sky with cyan blue and white colours which he later went over with black and white colours to turn the beautiful sky to grey in order to reflect the polluted air produced by thick smoke emitting from the burst oil pipe on the far left of the painting. Under the polluted air he painted a rusty-roof shack village to show the level of poverty of the people living in the oil-rich part of the country. Some of the fishermen’s boats are stationed idle at the bank of the oil-polluted river. In the foreground are the children fetching water and drinking water from the polluted river."