Why I used Abstract Art For Autism Sensitisation – Kanye

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Tagbo Autism Day
L-R: The president, Society of Nigerian Artists, Muhammed Sulieman; Kanye Tagbo Okeke; and his father, Tagbo Okeke during the art exhibition in Abuja.

Kanye Tagbo Okeke, a very creative Nigerian child, has given the rationale behind his one-week abstract art exhibition as a means of sensitisation for autism.

Autism has always been a challenge for many Nigerians, especially parents, schools and caregivers, so Kanye decided to dedicate his third art exhibition themed “No Child Left Behind”, to sensitise folks who always attribute autism to spiritual things.

Recall that Nigeria joined the rest of the world to commemorate this year’s World Autism Day on April 2, 2022 and, Kanye, in commemoration of the event, hosted a week-long event at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja to bring to the fore the challenges, awareness and management of autistic individuals in the society. 

The exhibition brought some of the prodigy’s finest abstract art collections under one roof. Described as fantastic and creative by art lovers, connoisseurs and collectors, the works brought to fore Kanye’s dexterity with brushes on canvass.

Speaking at the event, Mariam Shuaibu, who represented the Minister of Women Affairs, said: “We believe that this exhibition is in line with the Child Rights Act of the country. We believe in promoting the welfare and right of children as it is in Child Rights Act 2003. We will sensitise the people and empower their parents. Attention should be focused on identifying these children’s talents.

“It gives me great pleasure to be part of this exhibition and I will want to use this opportunity to appreciate the wonderful parents for nurturing this boy to this height. Kanye has showcased his gift of art, irrespective of his challenges. As you are aware, autism is one of the developmental challenges but Kanye has shown that this narrative can be changed.”

The director of OLG Autism and Kanye’s doctor, Doris Izuwah said: “There is inclusion in treatment. Autism isn’t just one man’s business. We need to help our children access multi-disciplinary approaches such as speech therapy, music and art. I commend the Tagbo Okekes for their understanding and supporting Kanye’s schedule. This has opened doors to others. With their efforts, a lot has been known and this has helped in the autism awareness.”

In his remarks, the president of the Society of Nigerian Artists, Muhammed Sulieman said: “Welcome to Kanye’s world and life, a reflection of his life and creativity. Kanye must have been thought very well to bring forth these works. Kanye isn’t fighting the ordinary battles you are fighting daily. From age eight, Kanye’s art has been revolutionary. He is such an amazing artist, a definition of things he sees every day and a representation of things that are in creative colours and shapes.”

Tagbo Okeke, the father of Kanye, also added: “We understand the importance of autism awareness that we have decided to build Kanye’s Autism Society to assist in the awareness and intervention in autism cases in the country. We have seen a lot of cases where one of the children was about to be strangled just because he has autism [and] we have to intervene. What we do is to bring these children with special needs and put them on a platform that will take care of their needs. We encourage people to adopt children – not that we are telling you to take the child home – [to be a] part of the process.”

Okeke, an autistic 12-year-old, who has been hailed for his dexterity and creativity, has exhibited his art across the globe in major cities like Vienna, Austria (where he was recognised with an Award Flame of Peace) and also in New York, with the UNICEF etc. Also, his artworks are displayed in prestigious art galleries around the world.

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