Makaveli Charley juxtaposing Benin art

Charles Egualeona: Telling Societal Stories With Visual Art

Charles Egualeona, known as Makaveli Charley is a visual artist who believes that art reflects the world around it.


The phenomenal creative has always had the love of art close to his heart, making a decision to chase that dream. Great stories from his creative mind, transferring this onto his canvas, and bringing the unimaginable to life.

For Makaveli Charley, art is one of the ways he chooses to express himself. Being able to tell stories his way and having like minds relate to them is something that gives him so much joy. He hopes that one day his works will trigger conversations around the return of all ancient African artifacts looted by the Europeans.

On Eko Adventure, we had a conversation with the talented artist where he takes us through his background, how he knew visual art was his path, and the story so far.

Makaveli Charley juxtaposing Benin art
Makaveli Charley juxtaposing Benin art.

This interview is edited for grammar and tone to fit the Lagos Laif editorial standard. Apart from that, all responses are entirely what the guest said.

Eko Adventure (EA): Tell us a bit about yourself.

Makaveli Charley (MC): My name is Egualeona Charles, born on the 31st of May 1993.

I am from Edo state, Nigeria. Grew up at Ifako Gbagada, Lagos, and graduated from Gbagada Senior Grammar School II, then proceeded to Federal College of Education (Technical), Akoka where I obtained my (NCE) National Certificate in Education in Fine & Applied Art as a Painter and Art Educator in 2016.

I am presently a final year student at the University of Lagos studying Creative Art (Visual Art Unit) specializing in Painting. Also, I am a member of the Society of Nigerian Artists. I have participated in several workshops and Art Exhibition which includes the Omooba Yemisi Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF) workshop in 2014, Mark of Change in 2016, Music Meet Art Workshop organized by the Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA) in 2018, People and Places in 2019, and Footprints in 2022.

EA: When did you decide to become a visual artist and what prompted it?

MC: I started practicing art in 2013 and decided to train myself in a formal academic setting to get more experience and exposure. What prompted me into doing art is the aesthetic value it adds to home and office space. I feel I can also solve people’s problems by using my artwork to bring life into their empty space, creating art that tells a story that feels like home to its consumers.

EA: How were you able to develop your visual art skills?

MC: I developed my visual art skill at FCE(T) Akoka, under the guidance of Mr. Dotun Alabi a painting lecturer at FCE(T) Akoka, during my NCE days.

EA: How does living in Lagos influence or affect your work as a visual artist?

MC:  I am largely influenced by the hustle culture here in Lagos. Everybody here in Lagos is up and alert and very busy trying to get the paper. The city is alive at all times from dusk to dawn, and the people here are always rushing somewhere.

Being born and bred in Lagos, I grew up in this culture. With art, you can’t exactly rush. The process of it calls you to patience, you can’t rush the work because it dictates what it wants for you and so I have transferred that rush culture into working smart instead because one of the things Lagos will teach you is being smart.

EA: Who are your biggest artistic influences?

MC: My biggest artistic influence is the Zaria Rebels of ABU Zaria because they revived what we know today as Contemporary Nigerian art whereby indigenous designs are being mixed with the Western form of art.

EA: Describe how much you think art is important to society.

MC: Art is important to society because it seeks to reflect the world around it. It is a means to interpret and make sense of what is happening around us, and it can be used as a political tool or as a form of therapy, or for its aesthetic value.

EA: What is the purpose or goal that drives your work as a visual artist?

MC: Agitation for the British to return the stolen Benin art has been going on for a couple of years now but the British Empire hasn’t responded to it. Due to colonialism and migration, cultures have mixed and interacted so I use my art to lend a visual voice to the agitation, juxtaposing both cultures to show that we can merge without riffs.

EA: How do you intend to use your work to address societal issues?

MC: Art is regarded as a universal language. It is not only about drawing and painting. It is about the documentation of realities without compromise and I want to show society that art can speak to the world at large regardless of the tribe, that investing in art is also a good means of livelihood and to eradicate the mentality of the layman who sits and do nothing to venture into a technical or vocational skill because it will reduce the unemployment situation within the country.

Makaveli Charley juxtaposing Benin art

EA: Is there a specific environment or material that’s integral to your work?

MC: Just the cultural phase of Nigeria; whereby using Benin art more as a case study.

 EA: What factors influence the price of your work?

MC: The time and effort put together in producing the art piece and the recent cost of art materials.

 EA: What are your ultimate career goals?

MC: To make an impact on younger ones who have an interest in art, to satisfy the aesthetic needs of art enthusiasts, and to explore more using different materials as a medium to execute more artworks.

 EA: Say something cool to your audience in the Lagos Way.

MC: To everyone supporting my art, I really appreciate you and those who are just getting to know me, stay tuned for more artwork and support the movement. You can follow me on my Instagram – @Makaveli_Charley.

Conclusion

For some, art is just a way of livelihood, while for some others, it is a way of expressing themselves. For people like Makaveli Charley, it is both a way of expressing himself and also making a living, which goes to show that sometimes, when we develop ourselves enough, our passion can become a source of income for us.

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