‘I just ordered the oil paints and the canvas on Amazon’
Skepta is a man of many talents. He pioneered the grime genre, won a Mercury Prize for his 2016 album Konnichiwa, founded a clothing line called Mains, and was made a chief in his home state of Ogun, Nigeria in 2018. Now, he’s turning his attention to the art world.
The musician is auctioning off a painting at the Contemporary Curated sale at Sotheby’s. It’s his first and only painting, titled Mama Goes to Market, and depicts a market scene in Nigeria.
He told the Financial Times that he began dabbling in painting back in spring 2020 when his shows were cancelled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. “I guess I was just so used to expressing myself all the time, every two days, out doing a show somewhere new,” he said, adding that he wasn’t “gonna write a song about lockdown and staying in.”
“So I just ordered the oil paints and the canvas [on Amazon],” he said.
Mama Goes to Market took Skepta seven days to create – which is a long time by his standards. “When I made ‘Praise the Lord’ with A$AP Rocky, which was one of our biggest songs ever, I produced that hook in his hotel room in London in 10 minutes,” he told the FT.
For Skepta, the painting is also a way of connecting with his African heritage and keeping this alive for his family – especially his daughter, who was born in 2018. “I want my children to feel like they’ve been in an African household, whether it’s the music, the art, the clothes we’re wearing, the food we’re eating.”
“A lot of the African art in my house when I was growing up really shaped me as a man… I thought, I should try to make a conscious effort to put these things in the house,” he said.
Skepta took the painting to a Givenchy pop-up and had it tagged by Chito, Slawn and Goldie, where someone suggested that it would be worth in the region of £40,000 to £60,000, and that he should contact Sotheby’s and sell it.
It’s not yet clear how much the painting will fetch, or if Skepta is planning on continuing to make headway in the art world, but the future looks bright.