Physiotherapy student Ade expresses his feelings through his drawings: "There are a lot of emotions involved"

Far from home, as he says himself, is student Adeniji Adeoluwa (21). The fourth-year physiotherapy student is better known as Ade: his artists name. Four years ago he came to the Netherlands from Nigeria and while studying found an old passion: drawing. In June he will exhibit his drawings at Saxion. In doing so, he wants to inspire everyone to get the best out of themselves. "I am constantly asking myself what I want to communicate to the outside world," he says.

In front of him is a large portfolio folder through which he flips, occasionally pointing at something. Figurative and photo-realistic, is how he describes the style of his drawings made with charcoal. Everything in the folder was made in the period from 2021, since he found his love of drawing again during the corona period.

Ade: "Actually, I have been drawing as long as I can remember. It started with the standard drawings of cars and cartoons and I used to help my sisters draw their school assignments." He says the first time he realized he was good at drawing was in high school. This was where he took the cultural and creative arts course. During the open day of his school, students' works were displayed, including his. "I can remember how proud I was. I said to my mother, 'look mom, I made this!'"

After high school, he stopped drawing, the reason for which is also unclear to himself (still). In 2019, he moved from Nigeria to the Netherlands to study physical therapy here at Saxion. "Then I had to draw anatomy, body sketches and skeletons for certain subjects. I think that's when the fire was rekindled."

Pencil back in hands

Like for many other students, corona was a difficult time for Ade. "I had to spend a lot of time alone, because I couldn't go home to Nigeria. During that period, I had a lot of time to think and I picked up the pencil again." He shows the drawings he first made back in 2021. "These really shouldn't be seen by anyone, that's how bad I think they are now." But then again, that just shows the growth, he admits.

His drawings are based on photographs, to which he adds his own interpretation. "The first feeling I experience then is a kind of burden, a feeling I can't really describe. I sit with that feeling until I think I can express it on paper." When he sees a photograph that evokes feelings for him, the first step is to contact the photographer to ask if they can work together.


Photos: Tijmen Bartels

A burden

He describes the stages he goes through in creating art as a caterpillar turning into a butterfly. Similarly, there are at least four drawings that precede the final result. So does the drawing Veil, which shows someone whose eyes are covered.

Ade explains where his inspiration came from: "It's really about the lack of your vision, your picture of the future. I've had that feeling for a long time. And when I ask other people, 'What are you going to do with your life?' Then no one knows. I feel like we can do better than that." Ade finds it difficult to go into more detail on this subject because it is very personal to him.

To get to a final result, he spends about thirty to sixty hours. And it is a burden for him. "There are a lot of emotions involved and I'm constantly asking myself what I want to communicate to the outside world."

When asked why he doesn't study art, he has his answer ready: "I wouldn't say I don't study art. Just not in college. I always used to think I was going to be an artist, and I am. I don't need an education for that." He does, however, take courses alongside his Saxion studies to add additional skills to his toolbox.

He is now graduating as a physiotherapist, and his plans after that? He's not quite sure about that yet. "But art will always be there, it's part of me. Even if I have a full-time job soon: there will always be time to draw."

Grand opening

He has previously exhibited his drawings at Atelierstichting B93 in Enschede. June 1st is the 'grand opening' of his exhibition here at Saxion. 'Grand' it certainly will be, as he expects about fifty people. "I notice that people often expect an explanation for each work of art, but I can't always give them that. During the exhibition I want to try to put people in the same headspace as I was while making the drawings."

The art he is exhibiting will consist of mostly existing drawings, as he himself says, "I selected the drawings that I think you can see that I can do this." And as a first for SaxNow, he says there will also be two never-before-seen works on display: "One of which is not even finished..."

Kunsttentoonstelling Adeoluwa - Afbeelding 3 - IMG_2259 - 5184 x 3456 - Tijmen Bartels.jpg

Exhibitions opens 1st of June

On June 1st at 5 p.m. is the festive opening of the exhibition in the Kunstenkabinet (F1.25), in the main Saxion building in Enschede. Ade himself will be present, of course. "I'll talk people through it, but for the most part I want them to feel the emotion themselves," he said. The exhibition will be on display until the summer break.

Linde Verschoor