From his photos, it was easy to recognize him immediately I set my eyes on him! I stared at him stunned, as guests scrambled to take pictures with him. Then nodding, and with so much admiration, I said to myself: “Behold the man who collects art, behold Dotun Sulaiman.”
The time was around 7pm and Coronation Art Gallery was buzzing with invited guests to the event. I moved around and exchanged pleasantries with a few guests and then I spotted the photographer and videographer moving towards me.
What followed next was a conversation with Dotun Sulaiman, requesting him to spare a few minutes with me for a brief interview session.
Itoro Okopide: Good evening Sir, I’m thrilled to finally meet you in person. My name is Itoro Okopide and I am the lifestyle writer for Coronation.
Dotun Sulaiman: (smiling) Good evening. How are you?
Itoro Okopide: I’m fine thank you. Do you mind if I conduct a brief interview with you?
Dotun Sulaiman: Okay. Right now?
Itoro Okopide: In thirty minutes, sir. We just need to tidy up the lighting settings.
Dotun Sulaiman: Okay
Thirty minutes later the interview took off in an interview room hurriedly set up by our crew.
Itoro Okopide: Thank you so much sir for your time. I’m Itoro Okopide and I’m a writer for Coronation.
Dotun Sulaiman: Thank you. You all put this together and I appreciate it.
Itoro Okopide: Yes! You are welcome, sir.
What followed was a picture taking session and the photographers setting up his personal microphone.
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The Interview with Dotun Sulaiman
Thirty minutes later, the interview took off in an interview room hurriedly set up by our crew.
Itoro Okopide: Earlier today, on the Coronation blog, I published an article with the headline “Say hello to beauty and catch the thrills of the art pieces collected by Dotun Sulaiman at the Coronation Art Gallery event. Now, I am here saying hello to you and I am so delighted to have this brief interview with you. Let me quickly acknowledge that the art pieces on display are really lovely. Your effort is highly commendable.
Dotun Sulaiman: Thank you
Itoro Okopide: Please tell me in one word how you feel today?
Dotun Sulaiman: I feel very happy. I feel very proud. I feel very grateful that Coronation has offered us this opportunity for more people to see my work than otherwise would have been possible.
Itoro Okopide: What inspired you to become an art collector?
Dotun Sulaiman: I like beautiful things. I like to be surrounded by beauty. I like the output of creativity. We’re all blessed with different talents and one of the talents I don’t have is designing, drawing and so on. When I see people do it, I really admire it and I think they need to be encouraged and they need to be supported. So, that’s part of the inspiration but more importantly, is that you want to be surrounded by beautiful things and beautiful objects as well.
Itoro Okopide: What does art do for you as a person?
Dotun Sulaiman: It’s very humbling when you see people create something out of thin air. Especially people who have talents and gifts that you don’t have. It’s also very inspiring as well and what it does is that, it forces all of us to look for the creativity we have. We all have different talents. So, I might not be creative in drawing or singing but I’m sure everyone of us has a talent. That to me is one of the things I get from art. The inspiration to bring the best out of everything.
Itoro Okopide: Do you think the level of art appreciation by Nigerians compares to what obtains abroad?
Dotun Sulaiman: Don’t forget, art is a luxury so to speak and you have got to take care of the basic requirements first before you can indulge in those fine things of life like art and music and so on. So, I guess the more we develop, the more the economy grows, the more people would have taken care of the basic things of life and have more time and resources to put into art. So, I would say we are not there yet but we are improving at a very rapid pace. As the economy expands, art of course will explode.
Itoro Okopide: How best can one develop and sustain interest in art collection?
Dotun Sulaiman: As humans, we have an urge to collect. A lot of things we have and keep are over and beyond what we need for daily living. So, it is best to determine what it is you want to collect. Some people collect shoes, some collect bags, cars, art, watches and so on. So, I guess it depends on what inspires you. What you like and what you would like to spend your extra naira on that you don’t need for rent or school fees or for the other necessities of life.
Itoro Okopide: You have a majestic collection here. Do you have a theme for all the pieces you have collected?
Dotun Sulaiman: I am the theme! That is to say, what you see here is art that I like. So, in that sense therefore, what you see here reflects my taste, my passion, what I find attractive and, in a sense, therefore defines who I am. There is no common theme running through it. I collect deities, I collect sculpture and all kinds of art but one thing that is common to all of them is that I like them, and I could afford them at the point I bought them.
Let me end by saying thank you very much to Coronation. What you are doing here is a very good initiative. What you are seeing here is just 37 pieces out of about 800. I am not the biggest collector in Nigeria by any stroke of the imagination. So you can imagine the amount of good quality art that is a private collection that people don’t see. And for me, art is meant to be seen, to be admired and so on. Since we don’t have a public gallery in Nigeria just yet, this is the next best thing. So, I think coronation is to be commended for doing this.
Itoro Okopide: It has been an honour speaking with you. Many thanks for partnering with Coronation. Enjoy the rest of the evening.
The full video of the interview with Dotun Sulaiman is available on our YouTube Channel. Click here to view.
Visit the Coronation Art Gallery at 10, Amodu Ojikutu Street, Victoria Island, Lagos to view beautiful art pieces.