What do you do, how would you describe yourself?
My name is Kingsley Chibuzor Nwabia, and I’m an artist, author, illustrator, designer and educationist.
I’m from Nigeria (born and raised) and I suppose I’m just a guy trying to find his true place and leave a positive impact in this world to the best of his abilities with his gifts.
I paint, using primarily oil on canvas, I write bilingual storybooks for children(Eng/Rom), I also teach conversational English, and I now also design, make and sell my own brand of t-shirts, and apparels under the brand name “KEISIEN’.
Where are you from, where did you grow up and how were your early years?
As mentioned earlier, I was born and grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. My early years? Not quite sure how to answer that, but I grew up with my 6 siblings and my parents.
Life in Lagos, Nigeria is almost impossible to accurately describe for ones who grew up there, but I can tell you that it shaped my persona and infused me with the typical ‘Never say die’ attitude found in the DNA of just about any Nigerian.
I graduated from the University of Lagos, with a degree in Microbiology, and it was during my final year of university that my creative nature won over, and I decided to pursue what I believed to be my true calling.
What brought you to Romania and how did you find it when you got here, what were your first impressions?
I came to Romania in 2005 on a traineeship with an organization I was part of called AIESEC.
My first 6 months were spent in Cluj Napoca, before I moved to Bucharest.
To be honest, I had no preconceived expectations about Romania before I arrived here, it’s been my experience that having expectations of places and people often leads to disappointments. So I arrived and just let Romania reveal itself to me.
My first impressions were simply magical. As one would expect when coming to a new country with new languages, people and culture. I just simply sat back and soaked it all up. Most of the people were friendly, curious and very helpful. I instantly felt right at home.
Where did you learn to paint? Were you always artistic?
I’m a self-taught artist. Never saw the four walls of an art school, but over the years, my art has grown and has been influenced by many artists both from my home country, Romania and the world over.
In school and as a child, I always loved to draw, but I never once thought it would be the thing I would be most known for.
How would you describe your art? How is it influenced by Romania, which artists do you most admire?
My art style of choice is classical realism. Coming from a different culture and not being tied to any particular school of art, I was free to develop my own style of painting which fuses elements of African and European art styles.
My time in Romania has greatly influenced my style, because I was able to explore new methods, ‘strengthen my hands’ so to say, and discover new themes and subjects to paint, different from what I grew up with.
I admire, and I’m influenced by many artists and I couldn’t possibly list them all here. But of course, there are the renaissance artists, then some contemporary ones, the list is long but just to mention a few
like Andrew Tischer, the late Bob Ross, and some Romanian artists, like my friend Matei Serban Sandu and Istvan Balog.
How were you commissioned to create some paintings for the Romanian royal family?
It’s a funny story that one. I was asked by a friend to make a large painting of Queen Maria, almost like a challenge, so to say. So I made this painting and then realized at the end of it all, I had nowhere to put it. So after my exhibition, I reached out to the Royal family and asked if I could present them with a gift, to my eternal surprise and honour, they responded, HRH princess Margareta and HRH Prince Radu saw it, loved it and it’s been Hanging in Palatul Elisabeta ever since.
And as if that wasn’t enough, when the late King Mihai I came back into the country and saw the painting, he asked to meet the artist. And that’s how I was invited back to the palace, where I met both the late King and late Queen Anne. The late King and I ended up chatting about art, life and countries he’d been to which to my surprise included Nigeria. It was a surreal and life changing experience for me and one I shall carry with me all my life.
What do you think of the art scene in Romania, which artists do you most admire?
I am not one to speak on the art scene in Romania at that level, but from my humble observation, Romania is over-flowing with creative souls who express themselves in many different ways. And although personally I’m not really a fan of modern art, I prefer classical and realistic styles of painting, I do respect creativity and the ways different artist choose to express themselves here. My favourite Romanian artist whose works I admire the most, from the first time I saw his works at the national gallery is Nicolae Grigorescu.
Is there an artistry to Romania and Romanians?
One just has to look at the traditional Romanian,‘ie’ the potteries, in fact, a simple trip to the ‘muzeul taranului’ will answer that question categorically. Yes! My answer is yes!
When and where will your next exhibition take place?
That’s a good question. I’m currently searching for a suitable space to host my next exhibition here in Bucharest. I’m in communication with a couple of galleries and as such I can’t say for certain when my next exhibition will be, but I’ll keep you posted.
Tell us about the piece of art that you have created that you are most proud of?
Wow! That’s like asking a parent to choose their favourite child!
Fact is I love all my works, but yes a few hold special importance to me, be it because of the period they were made, the themes and even who modelled for them.
Naturally I’m extremely proud of the painting I made for the Romanian Royal family for obvious reasons.
But if I had to choose right now I can only narrow it to Three paintings of which I could never really definitely choose one over the other two. And they are ‘’The MASKS’, “Red Lory” and “Beloved”.