African artist obsessed with China

Updated: 2015-02-17 13:16

A Nigerian artist who painted the picture of Nanjing city, capital of Jiangsu province in the eastern part of China, last year, still has unquenchable a indescribable love for the East Asian nation. Or so it seems.

In the eyes of Mohammed Sulaiman, the artist, China is a beautiful country which has semblance with Nigeria in terms of history, rich culture, enjoyable local cuisine and many more. All these fascinated him so much that the memorable moments he had during his six-month stay still linger in his mind till today.

"For almost two months of my time in Nanjing, which I shared between living from Beijing to Nanjing and to Shanghai, I would say first, it is the people that got me curious. The people have so much in common with us here (in Nigeria). It is a populous nation which has a lot of people going around everywhere and most of the people are skilled-workers," he said.

"My happiness is that, culturally, the Chinese hold culture so much and I think we have a lot to share in that area. And it is that cultural aspect that has been very responsible for me getting easily adapted into the system. I was in Nanjing and -- not just the warm hospitality, not just the food, reception and everything there -- I must say that there were so many beautiful scenes to see and to paint and to also meet other artists and those artists actually gave me another turn in my art that I can consider myself professional enough," Sulaiman noted.

His career, spanning more than two decades, got a boost in 2012 when he was invited from Nigeria to Nanjing by the Chinese Ministry of Culture for a meeting organized annually since 2008 for distinguished African artists.

Two of his past works -- painting of the Zuma Rock, located at the center of Nigeria in Niger State and another which he titled The Matrimony -- were considered as the best entry from the West African country, which qualified him for the meeting in Nanjing.

There in the eastern China city, during the meeting, he got an inspiration to do a painting of the famous Xuanwu Lake, not leaving out other important and attractive features of the place.

He was most fascinated with the monastery, the mausoleum and old people of about 90 years old still able to move on their own, riding bicycles, while some young ones drove in very fast cars.

"I painted Xuanwu Lake because everybody gathered around there and that is where I found that lady on the Lotus, standing inside the water. I felt so much in love with the place that I said I was not going to leave Nanjing without painting her. So, I didn't just paint her, I also reversed it and I made sure there were two of them. I had to give her a reflection of herself because what (Chinese) people don't know is that what they give to visitors, visitors also give back. That is the reflection that I had on that painting," the artist explained.

That particular painting, beautiful and very impressive, is one of the great works of art currently hanging on the wall at the newly-commissioned China Cultural Center in Abuja, Nigeria's capital city.

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