Johnson Ocheja, born 1994 in Kogi, Nigeria. He currently lives in Cross-River State, Nigeria. He graduated from Kogi State University with a bachelor’s degree in statistics. He is a self-taught artist inspired – as he says – “by my environment, the beautiful and colourful people around me and some of the historical stories I was told growing up. people around inspired me becoming an artist.” His works are affected by artists like Gerald Lovell, Amoako Boafo.
He paints detailed scenes of black subjects with blue pigment and also in impasto technique with his fingers thereby producing marks on the skin of his subjects. The marks on the skin of some of my subjects are inspired by scarification, an African cultural practice which shows a person’s rank in society, family, clan, and tribe, and also symbolizes their beauty or strength and the blue pigment on the skin of my subjects symbolizes royalty.
He says: “I grew up with the idea that a particular race (the white race) is better and more beautiful than the black race. But I realized, we were all created equally and the same. My works are deeply influenced by this insight. He goes back, as he explains it, “to the roots” showing how people were “originally before colonization”. With vibrant colors he makes their dark, her personality skin pop. “I hope that the audience really sees the beauty in the people I am showing through my works and take them for who they are – without prejudice.”