Emmanuel Eni, aka Blackman in European Kitchen, is a Germanybased Nigerian artist and poet. The serially published poet who has remained a notable force in the art world, in this interview with TONY OKUYEME, talks about the journey so far, his poetry anthology ‘KINDONKIND’, and growing up in a polygamous family. He also shares his thoughts on arts, culture and politics…
Congratulations on your birthday. How do you feel?
Thanks a lot Tony. Like every birthday, I presume I’m feeling great considering the fact that it is day of reflection, thankfulness for the gift of life, love and friendships all over different parts of the world, especially through the cherishing gestures of my fans and their love everywhere they are. I dedicate this birthday to all the people of Nigeria and hope that Nigeria as a country will find favour in the eyes of the world and that its glory and success will be cemented amongst the greatest in the world, and find peace, harmony and success while leading Africa to a new epoch of total independence, sovereignty, good relations, knowledge and wealth.
Take us through your career trajectory… How has the journey been so far?
My work being an artist is a calling and creation of spirits to rejuvenate the soul of humans and also to show the beauty in them. As an artist I sharpen the intuition of humans and society to know what uplifts the consciousness as I allow the interpretation of my life, as an allegory transposed thereby in three known stages, the physical, metaphysical and philosophical, to show like an exemplary mirror of my projection to my society. This has opened the way to my creation of a number of seminal results like my propounded ‘Contemporary Barock Art’ under which all aspects of my creativity unite, from visual arts to installation art, performance, poetry and music are compounded. Also the creation and patent of the well-known new ‘Light- Paintings Art’ which apart from not being lithography or stained glass is a style and material of rediscovered picturisation whereby the inner light of the painting itself surpasses the light of the painting outside. In it the memory of the colour pigment and the canvas is obliterated, which makes the painting to have longevity like it can live forever, doing so without breaking down its matter over time, regardless of climate and light. This new ‘Light Paintings Art’ reveals the ultimate brightness inside and outside the picture. I also have described and illustrated the BMSFAP (basic metric scale for art products) in my published stage drama dealing with the dangers of curated art and the inner machinery of the art world titled ‘Death of the Curator’. BMSFAP is determinant scale for knowing the price of a given art product, without cognisance to material, time of making, and the artist’s name. Basic metric scale for art products helps art buyers to know the price to pay for a given art.
‘KINDONKIND’, your anthology of poems deals with duality. What is your take about duality?
Yes, ‘KINDONKIND’ deals with duality. It is about the deeper values encoded in life’s dichotomy; like things come in twos in nature for growth and sustainability. The inside is part of the outside, with one connecting to the other. It is an interplay which exists in opposites like day and night, cold and hot, and life and death etc. The poems are about the attraction and curiousness encountered in relating to one another. This anthology includes pageant poems, poems on duality, love, spirituality and philosophy. Also historical narratives relevant to the consequences of repetition of history are in the compilation. Spanning 30 years of my poetry, some of the epic poems narratives in the 320-page book with 600 poems, centre on war, victory and courage. It also contains stories of valour, constructive achievements and discoveries among old African kings, emperors and legends, some like ‘Chakaking of Zulu!’, ‘Sundiata and Sumanguru’, ‘Ovoranwen Nogbaisi’, and ‘Hang – Kinjeketile’. Published in March, 2021, it is doing quite well on the shelves and also online.
What are your thoughts about arts, culture and politics?
The arts is a vital tool that shapes the nation. In the sphere creative needs and products supply that helps the society to replenish itself. The arts nurture the society through consciously teaching of the society’s awareness, like reminding it that it is a collective order so that it can unite as one; thus, forming a united and long lasting and tangible union. It is this spiritual inculcation that the arts infuse into society as well as filling i with beauty of spirit and being anything other than this, for example without the arts, culture and politics will be baseless. The arts presents peace and glory through beauty as intermediary between the system and the society made of different people and different origins.
How has your stay in Germany shaped your philosophy as an artist and a poet?
Being not only a diaspora with Nigerian origin, my naturalisation as German citizen gives me a broader perspective of experience and knowledge, knowing the differences and the similarities of cultures, thus helping me to love everything in essence though some are difficult to admit because they open my eyes and my understanding. This has made me to seek after iconoclasm of cultural, political, religious and philosophical relevance, especially uncommon and unproportional ones. Through the years I am shifting towards solidifying my developed written doctrines and logics, in philosophy, including preparing drawings for the largest bronze sculpture compositions that I will create in the next years. It is inspiring my plan of creating five to 10 tons heavy multi-figural bronzes with universal iconoclast compositions and themes, enlivening my mounting of large scale traveling exhibitions, showing my new works depicting old and new universal African philosophies.