Bamako / Mali
Born in 1993, EOLIA is a conceptual artist from Benin and Togo. Her charcoal portraits aim to explore identity and reflections. Her exposure to Art began at a very early age, she initially started her career in Real Estate and Interior Design. After a few years, Eolia felt a longing to dedicate her time solely to artistic expression. Utilizing charcoal as a primary medium, she creates unconventional pieces that convey a powerful image. As an artist, she is on a constant quest to push existing boundaries and to experiment through the use of alternative materials such as mirror, glass and wood.
In her first series The Woman In The mirror she developed a highly innovative technique using mirror as an artistic medium. The result is both strikingly lifelike and abstract.
EOLIA, you are a visual artist with a completely different career background. Can you tell us all about your journey into the art world?
My journey is quite unconventional. My exposure to art began at a very early age. As a kid, I had the opportunity to live in several countries in Africa and Europe. Very early, I was exposed to different cultures, customs and people. Everywhere I went, I was discovering the local art scene; my mother would take me to meet artists and encourage me to draw and create.
Yet, the timing never seemed quite right for me to dive into art professionally. So, I started my career in Real Estate and marketing. After the pandemic hit in early 2020, I finally felt the longing to dedicate my time to something more meaningful and decided to dive fully into artistic expression.
What was the most difficult part of the transition to a full-time artist?
Without a doubt, it was finding the confidence to come out publicly as an artist. I currently live and work in Mali, where it is quite rare for a woman to choose art as a career path.
Also, I quickly realized that being an artist also means being an entrepreneur, and I never really thought about myself as such. I find myself spending as much time in my office as I do in the studio.
You work primarily with charcoal and love using materials such as mirror, glass and wood. What inspired you to reach for such non-traditional materials?
I created my first works during the pandemic, which means I had little to no access to paint, canvas and other traditional mediums. Here we do not have Amazon so, ordering materials would have taken weeks. I felt the urge to express myself at that moment, so I decided to use the materials I had on hand and those I could easily find in my city.
Could you please describe your art process?
I lock myself in the studio, put some music on very loud and start drawing. Once the initial phase is done, I decide which other elements I want to add to it. This can take me a month or a year.
Your art is full of emotions. What is the message you are trying to send to your audience?
Choosing to use a mirror as a medium is highly significant. Each viewer has a unique vision of the work, depending on the reflection they observe in it. It invites each of us on an introspective journey.
This ties into your previous question, the best part of the process is probably the exhibition. The visitors share their perspectives and feelings about the work (or sometimes lack thereof *laughs*). It is, without doubt, the most interesting part.
What does your art do for you?
I call it art therapy.
What are some of your biggest goals?
In the future, I would love to showcase my work on a larger scale, with the hope that it helps many people find and reconnect with themselves through it.
What has been the most exciting moment of your art career so far?
Being one of the youngest artists to be exhibited at the National Museum of Mali.
You are one of the ten finalists of the Women United ART PRIZE. What is the number one advice you’d give to other women artists who want to submit their art to various art opportunities?
My favourite saying is “Fortune favours the bold”.
Even when you feel that the odds are not in your favour, it is extremely important to take action towards your dreams.