Loading Selected Work...

email: me@lemighariokwu.com

Lemi Ghariokwu

Hello, I’m Ghariokwu Lemi.

Art is beyond a profession for me. It is not just a tool of self-expression. It is a liberating force, a story and most importantly, a tool of hope. I am Ghariokwu Lemi but my friends call me Lemi Ghariokwu. I am a Self Taught Fine Artist, Graphic Designer, Illustrator and a Conscious African born, bred and buttered in Lagos.

I started my art journey at a young age. I made portraits of people in my neighborhood and gave myself assignments. In 1974, two major events happened to determine my professional destiny. The release of “Enter the Dragon” (starring Bruce Lee, John Saxon and Jim Kelly) and Fela’s album (The music of Fela/Roforofo fight) release. A bar owner within the neighborhood asked me to  draw a portrait of the cover of the Martial arts action film for him. I did, with all sense of enthusiasm. Little did I know that this single act was going to be my staircase to my destiny. A journalist, Babatunde Harrison entered the pub and saw the poster hanging on the wall and he requested to see me.  He located me and requested to see other drawings I had done. He saw the illustration I did as a self assigned homework while teaching myself art. It was an illustration of Fela dancing in the mud. I was inspired by the Fela’s album I had just bought called “Roforofo Fight” (roforofo is mud in Yoruba) and I decided to make an illustration. Babatunde was impressed and took me to Kalakuta republic to meet Fela and boom!!! My album cover journey started. I designed 26 album covers for Fela Anikulapo Kuti. I also designed covers for musicians like Osita Osadebe, James Iroha, Bob Marley, Kris Okotie, Lucky Dube, Gilles Peterson, Miriam Makeba and about a hundred other musicians across the globe. In the early 1980s, for a decade, I was the consulting album cover designer for Polygram (Phonogram+Polydor) records in Nigeria for 11 years. I have designed over 2000 album covers . I facilitated art workshops abroad. I designed for EMI, CBS and Ivory music.  I designed the logo for Fame Weekly, Ivory Music and National Encomium. I printed and designed album covers for many Kennis Music artists like 2 Face, Tony Tetuila, Lagbaja, Kenny St. Brown, Sound Sultan and many others for 11 years. I helped create the CD Jackets with Kennis Music used to sell CDs today. My career has lasted for over 40 years now because I have learned to research and follow trends in my field of art.

Ideology is my base, I believe my art should serve as a tool for social re-engineering. My art is politically and socially conscious because “social” and “political” are elements of the human society. Peter Tosh, Marcus Garvey and Malcom X were instrumental in my mental liberation that built me into a social conscious man. My inspiration comes from my ideas and events happening in my immediate environment, the society and the world at large. My work is influenced by my philosophical views on society, political reasoning and human expression. It has been said that my art is revolutionary, political,, sensual and even erotic but then, the amazing thing about art is, it gives you liberty to see it from your own perspective not just through the artist’s eyes. I am a book lover. I read because I believe that pictures are worth more than a thousand words, how then do I create a valuable piece of art, if I do not read?

I overstand (understand) that to move forward and remain relevant, you must constantly evolve. I keep recreating myself and try to be relevant every time without losing my identity. I have embraced digital art and it has been a great experience. Your age does not hinder your youth. As Toni Kan said, I made the transition from the past to the present in grand style. I had an exhibition in 2013 titled Art’s Own Kind, put together by Bloom and curated by Ugoma Adegoke, co-founder of the LifeHouse and my work for this exhibition were delineated across three lines:  “Vintage Lemi” predominated by earlier works in acrylic, poster color as well as pen and ink on paper; Axiomatic Expressions with works which, as the exhibition brochure says, have “poignant social messages” and AfroPop Series, which feature mixed media works. My recent works include Fela Art in Joe- EL, featuring Oritshefemi’s “Oya Now” music video and poster design for Alex Gibney’s  2014 documentary film, Finding Fela.

I have not just been influential in music alone, my work is currently influencing fashion. A pioneering, innovative and social footwear brand in Africa created a shoe collection inspired by some of my art works was recently launched in 2015 by Babajide Ipaye, founder of KEEXS.

I am from Delta state. In 1955, I was born and my parents named me Emmanuel Sunday but when I matured into the consciousness of self I named myself, Olalemi Ghariokwu because sometimes, you need to take action to assume the position you want to take. I am Ghariokwu Lemi, but you can call Lemi.

Thank you for visiting my online home to find out more about me. To find out more about my accomplishments, visit wikipedia. I hope you find my work interesting and my thoughts enlightening. Always remember,

Know thyself and to thine ownself be true.