Agbara’s recollections of his first visit to the United Kingdom now seem a distant memory. He arrived in the UK in the spring of 2007 and struggled to overcome the culture shock, which was inevitable. Logically Art was the last thing on his mind following his sudden change of scenery. This was especially so, as previous attempts for international exposure were unsuccessful.
Settling in the UK was not part of the plan as he was already established in Nigeria with a thriving studio. In the end the desire for exposure on the international scene took precedent over emotion and nostalgic inclination for Nigeria. That first holiday in the spring of 2007 later turned into a feverish painting session culminating in an exhibition.
Agbara was born in Lagos and attended the Federal Polytechnic Auchi where he obtained a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Painting and General Art in 1999.
Agbara’s favourite mediums are oil and watercolour; he has been involved in several solo and collaborative exhibitions in Nigeria and overseas. One of his more renowned exhibitions was the 2006 art residency in Ghana, which was sponsored by the Ford Foundation. His other collaboration includes the Imagine Art After project, a world art project held in the UK.
In 2016, Agbara finally achieved his dream of getting international recognition after his work was acknowledged at the renowned Sky Arts Landscape Artist of The Year 2016. This recent achievement has boosted his confidence and engendered a new enthusiasm in his ability. In a recent interview he opined, “Sometimes whenever I am painting, I like to have a time out to have a moment of silence. But within that space of four hours, there is so much stuff going on, and you may feel like having that moment of silence – but this is not your usual practice – so you have to just keep going and really feel the moment with each paint application”.
Agbara’s paintings can be described as transmissions of his perceptions vis-a-vis his environment. His meticulous approach to work has enabled him to interpret his subject matter with exceptional realism. He noted, “When I wake up in the morning now to go to work, I ride the bus and I get trapped in the stand still traffic. That stage in time gives me an opportunity to relax and reflect on my life here and at home (Nigeria – addition by author), and when I am enclosed in that London bus, I ask myself, “What am I going to do to reflect this mood?”… It’s these thoughts that are flowing through me when I paint and these African motifs can’t help but flow through”.
A further look at Agbara’s current portfolio reveals his yearning for his home country (Nigeria). Two very interesting and unique paintings from his current portfolio, which can be categorized as realism, confirm his allure for African visual languages and motifs. The paintings – As Our Mother Told Us (Oil on canvas) and Food For Thought (Oil on canvas) portray the everyday lives of trading women dutifully engaged in their daily chores.