Oldham Open: Interview with artist Titus Agbara



Gallery Oldham will be welcoming submissions to the Oldham Open 2019 next week. We were lucky enough to catch up with artist Titus Agbara about his work Damilola which he submitted to the Oldham Open in 2017. The painting was subsequently purchased for Gallery Oldham’s art collection with support from the Art Fund. It is currently on display in the Oldham Stories gallery.


Titus Agbara is a Nigerian-born artist who moved to the UK in 2007, and then to Oldham in 2016. The portrait Damilola was a painting of a friend who helped Titus when he initially moved to the UK. During this period Agbara was trying to learn about the customs and systems of a new country. Damilola was able to provide both information and home-cooked Nigerian food. Her name is the Yoruba word for ‘prosperity’, which Agbara saw (and still sees) as a good omen for his new life. Damilola agreed to model for him, and Agbara took photos in a variety of natural poses before returning to his bedroom-studio to create this painting. The composition is based the photos Agbara took and the background from Agbara’s bedroom-studio in his former flat in London.


Encourage by his parents, Titus studied Art at Auchi Polytechnic in Nigeria where he developed his distinctive style.  He describes his main interest as being landscape and the everyday. He often paints in oils, but also watercolour and pastels. Deeply influenced by the Impressionists and particularly Monet, his paintings reflect both a love of light and colour as well as a depth created by building up layers of paint with a palette knife. For Titus, art is an “ongoing process.” It is important to him to be able to paint at anytime, as soon as he gets any inspiration, so his studio is set up within his home.


Titus worked full-time as an artist before moving to the UK in 2007. He now combines his career as an artist with a role as a care assistant. Titus is gradually building an international reputation as an artist; his work is in the National Museum Lagos, Nigeria, and is displayed and sold on the prestigious Saatchi Art website. He has also participated in competitive events such as the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year 2014, and Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year 2015 and 2016.


The question for you is…will you listen to Titus and submit a piece of art to the Oldham Open 2019?