Tell us about your artwork and what inspired you to begin painting? 
Which of your pieces of art mean the most to you and why?

Art has been part of my paternal family as they were traditional carvers and masquerade carriers. When it was time to choose a path, it wasn’t so hard to stick to what I love most, ‘colors’.

Did you grow up in Africa or the Diaspora and do you feel that the country in which you were raised influences the kind of art you create? 

I grew up in Africa (Nigeria) and I can boldly say it is a huge influence in my works.

Did you ever see yourself following a different path? If so, which one?

I have never envisioned myself doing anything that is not art related, to be honest. But something I would have done if not painting, is sculpture. 

What have you learnt about the art industry that has shocked you the most?

Gossips

On days when you feel overwhelmed, what do you do to stay afloat?

Read books and sleep

We understand that you suffer from PCOS. Tell us more about it and how it relates to your art? Has it affected your mental health? Do you have any coping mechanisms and how does it inspire your art?

PCOS- ‘Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome’ is a hormonal disorder mostly encountered by women of reproductive age. It causes a major imbalance involving androgen, insulin, and progesterone. Women who encounter PCOS are seen livingwith irregular periods, complications during childbirth, hirsutism, acne etc. I noticed most women go through this symptoms but haven’t gathered the courage to go check themselves. I am using my experience to educate and create awareness. 

I discovered that I had PCOS in 2011 and since then, it has been one hospital visit to another and one herbalist to the other.

PCOS affects my mental health: I experience depression and I often get mood-swings. I paint to get my mood right and to remain sane. At times, when the anger and frustration kicks in, I paint in a different style (impressionism using large strokes). However when I am calm, I paint pop-like. My style of painting is greatly influenced by my moods. Taking drugs and herbs are not as powerful as me picking up my brush to paint whenever the troubles kick in. Painting has been my only form of expression in sharing my experience. 

As a young woman of African descent, would you say the art industry allows you/ artists in general to express themselves freely in comparison to other industries?

Yes and no. I remember I started out painting nudes and many people bashed me for it. Whenever I post semi nudes too, I was bashed for it. I happen to be a very crazy, controversial and blunt person, and that has given me the freedom of expression without minding what the industry is about. Art has played a major role in my life and recently, the art industry is beginning to adjust and appreciate artists and their ways of expression.

What advice would you give to other young artists in Africa and the Diaspora? 

Do you, be you. Do what works for you. Do what you love!

Anthonia Chinasa Nneji was born in December 1992 and hails from Imo state, Nigeria where her paternal forebears were traditional carvers and masquerade carriers. In the same spirit of artistry, she obtained a B.A (Hons) from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. She is a prolific painter, moving towards expressionism and her works are easily identified by her bold colours.

“I use my paintings to engage the intersection of physical and emotional breakdown, and to hold the fragments together.