Hidden Gems: In Bidemi Tata’s World, You Paint Your Nightmares.


Finding someone that moves you with their work is very rare, work so good you always want to put your money on them. That’s how I felt when I first saw Tata’s art. It struck out from the odd bunch of digital art popping up in the scene, he literally wore his emotions on his sleeve.

I was curious about the weird, audacious mind behind what to me was provocative work in a society that didn’t pay mind to such vulgar visual descriptions. I searched for him till we met at a More Branches hangout in 2017, which later led to an interview the next year.

A few years have gone by and I’ve watched Bidemi’s art stay true to his way of seeing the world, you must have seen his art pop also on one or two of your faves song art.

We recently linked up and spoke about what’s changed with him and his art, and his early beginnings.

Hey, so we meet again. How have you been? 

Tata: I’ve been alive. Breathing; trying to keep things as sane as possible.

For the people that don’t know you, tell us about yourself and what you do? 

Tata: Ok. My name’s Bidemi, I’m a human being, 22 and a mixed-media artist…sometimes. Born in Lagos, I grew up pretty much everywhere else. 

Where’s everywhere else exactly? And how did that affect your views growing up?

Tata: I moved schools a lot. Especially during my teenage years, when I’d say my personality really began to form. Had a stint in Togo, then Benin republic, Then Ghana. Constantly changing environments made creating bonds with any particular climate impossible, although, I appreciate the fact that I got to see different perspectives from different people and cultures. Helped me appreciate the chaos of life and how different AND similar we all are, especially in Africa. I didn’t approach this predicament like this back then though. I did not enjoy it at all. Friends started feeling like characters in tv shows that got replaced every season, that level of inconsistency and uncertainty will do anyone’s head in.


Did you realize you had a love for art during this stage? 

Tata: Oh yeah, definitely. Always been a visual person, and I found that out early. My villain origin story started when my parents dropped heaps of encyclopedias on my arms, summer ‘05. My parents were big on me and my bro having general knowledge about basically everything. Reading these books during the summer holiday was definitely any kid’s nightmare. But these stories had my attention, they had drawings on the sides, illustrating whatever topic was being discussed. I just knew I needed to draw like this, I just needed to draw too.

When did you decide to take art as a profession? What pushed you to? 

Tata: I was 13, I stumbled on the illustrations from more established abstract artists on the internet. There was something new and exciting about their unconventional methods. I had somewhat gotten distracted from this skill at the time, seeing the possibilities made me want to be a part of it. 

I didn’t really think about it too much, I just found myself doing this. I love this; every other aspect Of my life felt like a chore, but, this. The obligation I felt was wonderful. It felt natural. I dedicated myself to express. I feel a lot of things and it needed an outlet, and an interaction with something that gives me my freedom. A communication I Never get bored of, a solitude. it feels like breathing. I’ve been accused of making this my reason to seclude myself, I don’t know. I just want my perspective out there.

What is your perspective cause your art screams emotions, chaos, confusion, and everything in-between?

Tata: There’s an uncertainty in the world that has been left neglected for too long, we have refused to discuss reality for too long. The acceptance of grief is not the submission to said grief. Pain, fear, awkwardness, loneliness, dread, inanity and the mundane are all part of the world as much as happiness, joy, bliss, pleasure, and ecstasy.

I am not promoting these popularly assumed negative feelings, I am only discussing them; I do not deny their existence.

My perspective is inspired by my ideologies and it comes with a lack of understanding because I do not know what is to know and this leaves me in dread. I’m still on a journey and I am at peace with that, I have accepted that I may never know what is to know. 

I’d like to reference a dialogue in the 2001 film, Waking Life by Richard Linklater. two men discuss the trials of a self-destructive man, who is convinced by society that he must be the negative and an opposite to everyone else. “the self-destructive man feels completely alienated, utterly alone. He’s an outsider to the human community. He thinks to himself, “I must be insane.” What he fails to realize is that society has, just as he does, invested interest in considerable losses and catastrophes. 

These wars, famines, floods, and quakes meet well-defined needs. Man wants chaos. In fact, he has to have it. Depression, strife, riots, murder – all this dread. We’re irresistibly drawn to that almost orgiastic state created out of death and destruction. It’s in all of us. We revel in it. Sure, the media tries to put a sad face on these things and paints them up as great human tragedies. But we all know the function of the media has never been to eliminate the evils of the world – no! Their job is to persuade us to accept those evils and get used to living with them” 

You’ve been doing art professionally for a few years, what would you say has changed since our last interview?

Tata: I think I’m more confident in what I am trying to do. I have a clearer vision of where I want to go and how I want to get there. I’ve learned how to collaborate more too, I’ve discussed ideas and executed ideas with more creatives. I’ve also been able to challenge myself to take more conventional approaches to create; I like to think this is growth.

What would you say your art is now? What does it mean to you? 

Tata: It’s always been a method of expression for me and it will always be. I make it very personal, I try to.

Lately, it has swayed towards being more appealing than meaningful. Self-reflecting. Can I say that in itself is a representation of the current events in my life? Everything has lost its meaning.

Why haven’t you exhibited it yet?

Tata: I actually don’t know man. I have no idea, it hasn’t been a priority for some reason. I will this year though.

I feel like my art would be appreciated better in a proper atmosphere, I want to create a proper visual journey. I am working on it. 

What would you like to achieve this decade, this year?

Tata: I want to own a studio. I want to create a space for expression, for people with the hunger for it as well. I’d like to be grounded, I hope I attain stability. I’m speaking generally.

Your biggest lesson so far? 

Tata: I’ve learned to let go off the entitlement to be rewarded for brilliance, It quickly blurs the vision; Leads nowhere good. 

It’s been tough, but I’ve developed the strength to retain my perspectives and approach, whilst combining other elements that I might not fully enjoy expressing. 

I’ve learned to celebrate my victories without seeking external affirmations. I can’t tell if this is a good thing.

Adedayo Laketu

Adedayo Laketu is a creative inventor who's interested in curating a New Age for Africa across all mediums.

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