Joseph Fidelis is a visual artist from Adamawa state, Nigeria. He picked up an interest in art from an early age of eight where he would most fondly draw images and illustrations from text books and magazines. While growing up, he was in no way supported by his parents in terms of developing his interest in art and so he had no intentions of studying art, mostly because of the way artists were seen in the society as unserious. Drawing was something he was fond of doing basically because he derived pleasure from it and was as well passionate about it.
A year after his secondary school certificate exams, he continued to draw while waiting to gain admission into a University. His family and himself at this point finally accepted his passion for art and In respect therefore, he decided to study art at the Federal College of Education, Yola where he studied painting and graphics. He realised that art was something that was deeply rooted in him, and he was also motivated by his instructors based on the criticism and examination of his academic work which gave him a lot more insight and acceptance for his passion for art, he was also greatly impacted by another artist by the name of Jonathan Imafidor during this period. Emboldened, he went on to study painting from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Fidelis emits his concern about his culture, using visual metaphors to reflect on a mystery in Marghi kingdom, he explores traditional myths of the “Salkur” which is associated with the people of Marghi, from the far northeastern part of Nigeria. The Salkur also known as “Mutu” are people known to possess extraordinary abilities among the Marghi ethnic group. The extraordinary abilities of Salkur is thought to come from their spiritual attachment with wild animals in the forest, some Salkur’s are initiated from birth while others inherit it from their ancestors. It is said that, the Salkur and the animals both shares in strength, health, anger, sickness, longevity, and death among others.
“What amazes me is the intersection and the interaction of two spiritual forces (man and animal), especially when the reaction taking place could be as a result of anger or when there is a need for defence. We can also now find Salkurs living in cities just like anybody else”– Joseph Fidelis
His body of work seeks to connect and intersect these forces as he imagines a world which revolves around the invisible. He finds himself delightful being able to present works that engage dialogue between transcendence and the conception of the material world. According to Fidelis, his objective is to arouse this awareness within the human mind.
Joseph Fidelis has participated in some exhibitions which include:
Kaduna Art Fair, 2017. A collaboration between National gallery of art and Fine Arts department Ahmadu Bello University Zaria.
He emerged as artist of the year in early 2017 in a publication of the art history newsletter, fine arts department Ahmadu Bello University Zaria
Rele’s Young Contemporaries 2019, Rele gallery, Lagos
Collective Renditions. 2019 at the African artists’ foundation Lagos, 2019
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Instagram link: https://instagram.com/fidelis.a.j.v
Daily Trust interview: https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/why-my-paintings-explore-metaphysical-world-fidelis-john.html