Jude Ukadilonu is a Nigerian artist and sculptor living in Osogbo, Osun State. His passion is creating portrait sculpture and clay reliefs.
Ukadilonu’s sculptures have extraordinary virtuosity, depicting a range of emotions inspired by realism and achieved through his own interpretation, all of which are profoundly anchored in the power of visual storytelling.
They appear to be trapped in time, capturing the emotion behind an expression, the uniqueness of a face, an intense gesture preserved in time.
Ukadilonu’s work portrays his own inner world, a world that attempts to grasp and communicate the essence of things, to go towards ‘the truth’ by casting a piercing and questioning glance at our reality.
Voiceofnaija.ng’s Oluwapelumi Shemuel asked him to share his evolution as a sculptor, his creative passion, and his process. He graciously answered questions and provided photographs that show his mold-making skills.
First of all, could you tell us about yourself, your background, and how you became an artist?
I’m Ukadilonu Jude Chidiebube from Imo State, Nigeria. My artistic journey started in childhood, when I sketched characters from comic books. With my parents’ avid support for art, they guided me as my passion evolved.
I developed a fondness for pencils and drawing in general, focusing on realistic charcoal drawings. Later, during formal art studies at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, I ventured into sculpture, adding a new dimension to my art.
So, my journey is a mix of childhood sketches, support from my parents, a love for drawing with pencils, and exploring sculpture in college. It’s a continuous adventure of discovering and expressing myself through art.
What is your passion and goal as an artist?
As a visual artist, my passion is deeply rooted in the power of visual storytelling. I am captivated by the ability of art to provoke emotions and spark conversations.
I am driven by a relentless curiosity to express the intricacies of human experiences and the world around us through my artistic lens. My goal is to push the boundaries of my creativity and craftsmanship, continuously evolving as an artist.
Where does your creative process originate?
My creative process begins with a random idea that then evolves into something bigger and different from what I originally started with.
Drawing appears to be at the heart of your sculptural practice, and your drawings are extraordinary things in their own right. They look like prints—richly detailed and appearing to have already undergone a material process. Do you begin the process of sculpture with a drawing? If so, are you exploring potential shapes to use in sculptures, or does the drawing process lead you to the form the work will take? Do the material and technique you use emerge from this process of drawing, or do you already have them in mind?
Drawing is an integral part of my practice. I often draw when I want to figure ideas out. I make sketches of variations of an idea I intend to use for my sculpture, then pick the one that best represents the idea I want to convey.
So, my sculpture process begins with a sketch or series of sketches, followed by working with clay.
If you draw, carve, cast, or sculpt with clay, does the decision about the material and process precede the form the work will take, or does the probable shape of the finished work dictate the material? Do you move between materials and processes consecutively (e.g., carving has a monopoly on your interest for a time, then you feel the need to change) or work simultaneously in different materials and on different sculptures?
I draw, paint, and sculpt. The medium I choose to express myself at a given time depends on what I feel like using at that moment to portray an idea. There are times when I decide to make drawings only; other times, I just paint, and at some point, I sculpt. So, I alternate between media.
Title: 2 Kosisochukwu, Jude Ukadilonu, Medium: Acrylic and Charcoal on canvas, Year: 2023
Title: 3 Portrait of an old woman, Jude Ukadilonu, Medium: Charcoal and Graphite Pencils on Paper, Year: 2020
What was a major influence on your sculptural pursuit?
I’ve always been fascinated by figurative art and portraiture and the limitless range of emotions humans are capable of. I’m also influenced by my interactions and experiences with other people.
Can you recall a negative experience and how it shaped you and your career?
Luckily, I have not had a “major” negative experience in my pursuit. All I’ve had are minor challenges encountered while working.
Tell us how you spend your day and what your routine? is. What is your studio like?
A day in my life might sound boring to some. I arrive early at my studio and tidy up to ensure I start in a clean environment.
I put on music for motivation and begin to work on what I have planned for that day. I take breaks at intervals, watch a movie, step outside to catch some air, and then get back to work.
Is there anything new in the pipeline that you’d like to tell us about? What are you working on at the moment? Do you have any plans for the next couple of years?
I have a couple of works in progress in my studio at the moment, with the most recent being “nwaanyị isi afro,” a sculpture of an African woman with afro hair.
In the coming years, I plan to share my work and connect with people through my art.
How do you manage a work-life balance as an artist?
It all boils down to how disciplined one is. Juggling both life and work is not an easy feat, but I allocate time for both accordingly.
Are you single? Do you have a girlfriend? Is your partner comfortable with your career?
I’d like to keep that private. (Laughs)
How would you like to be remembered? Is there some kind of message or narrative that you want to tell the public through your art?
Ultimately, my aspiration is to be remembered as someone who impacted and inspired lives through the profound influence of my art.
Name: Jude Ukadilonu
DOB: October 8, 1997
Place of birth: Owerri, Imo State
Occupation: Visual artist