Artist profile: Chiamonwu Joy

“Faded”, stage 5 (OLD TESTAMENT series)

Yes, these are hyper-realistic charcoal pencil artworks, not photographs!

Chiamonwu Joy puts the culture of her ethnic group, the Igbo, in the spotlight with her choice of subjects. The Igbo are an old and large ethnic group who live in Nigeria.

She’s only twenty-two years old but has already taken the internet by storm, with some people even suggesting she draw Barack and Michelle Obama… which would be awesome. She was also the only woman to have artwork in the 2016 Insanity Art Exhibition.

Chiamonwu lets you into her studio on Instagram to show her works in progress and tell you all about the symbols and meanings behind them. They take quite a while, as the subjects are larger than life size and packed with detail.

Gone are the Days I

Through constant practice, perseverance and determination, Chiamonwu Joy has mastered the art of extensive detailing.

…her artworks mainly focus on exploring and immortalizing the rich symbols, cultural values and traditions of the African people.

I think it’s important to note that she emphasizes practice and tenacity, rather than natural talent – this inspires other artists rather than intimidates us. I would add it takes Buddha-like levels patience.

Omenala (Tradition)
Deeper Than This

You may wonder what the value of realistic art is since the widespread use of photography, and you wouldn’t be the only one – it’s something artists have struggled with for the past century and a half.

To me, hyper-realism is about the artist’s skills of noticing and execution. Chiamonwu first has to notice all the elements that she sees in real life (or in a photograph). She has to step outside what she thinks she sees and see what’s actually there to make the most realistic artwork possible.

Then she has to draw it! That’s another set of artistic and mental skills altogether, and equally impressive.

I wish the best of luck to Chiamonwu Joy, who is just starting off what I hope is a long artistic career!

Onyinye (Gift)

Links for Chiamonwu Joy: