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A Day in the Art Life of...

A Day in the Art Life of Dozie Kanu

The ‘A Day in the Art Life’ series is meant to convey a sense of the life of art world figures; a taste of their routine or an ideal day in their life, sprinkled with some philosophical musings.

A gray armchair representing palms and fingers is in a room with white walls and a gray carpet.

Dozie Kanu’s studio.

Dozie Kanu is an artist from Houston, Texas who lives and works in Santarém, Portugal. His sculptural works engage with the metaphysics of functional objects from an African and African-American perspective, and his installations test the limits of form and materiality.

My day always begins with… Checking my phone, sadly. It’s a very consistent habit that I’m not proud of - either replying to texts or just scrolling. It’s music that gives me the extra push I need to get out of bed. During the first lockdown of the pandemic I started this loose ritual for studio work days where I get out of bed and walk downstairs to my gray palm chair and immerse myself in an album that I’ve never heard from start to finish at high volume (thank you Bang & Olufsen). Ever since I started going to see exhibitions regularly during my early years living in New York, I started to see the parallels between albums and art exhibitions and this new ritual made this connection more apparent. I can’t believe I had never heard D’Angelo’s Voodoo (2000) or Sneaker Pimps’ Becoming X (1996) in their entirety until 2020.

Blood Type, 2021. Mixed media installation.

When I need to feel inspired, I… Look at pictures, listen to music, watch interviews, read books, essays, articles. Go for walks, go to the beach, watch films, call family, friends, mentors. Go to museums, go to galleries, go to concerts, go for a drive, drink wine. I can get inspired anywhere and I never take inspiration for granted. Sometimes it’s fleeting– just a flash, while sometimes I’m in it for hours, days, or weeks. I define inspiration as the sensation of possessing creative energy.

The art spaces I enjoy going to… I typically enjoy visiting non-commercial spaces the most, but I always feel much more inspired when I see a great exhibition in a commercial space. Lumiar Cité is one of my favorite art spaces in all of Portugal.

A modern beige one-story building in a deserted area on a clear day.

Dominio Vale Flores, Advagar, Santarém.

The place that means a lot to me… A place called Dominio Vale Flores. When I was renovating my warehouse in rural Portugal, I was under the impression that I was relocating my life to the middle of nowhere and if I ever wanted to spend time around people I would have to drive into the city, which I was okay with, initially. When they were replacing the roof of the warehouse I was forced to look for a place to stay nearby for two nights and I stumbled across this private annex located on the farmland of a married couple from the Netherlands. They accommodate guests and provide breakfast and dinner. I ended up becoming close with the owners over the past 3 years and I often tell them I would have never survived without them. I don’t cook at all and I don’t always have energy to drive down to Lisbon to meet friends. They gave me the social life that I didn’t know I needed and I’m super grateful.

Dozie Kanu / Prediction, 2019. Hand-carved marble.

Dozie Kanu / Raspberry data chamber worthy with chest (type seat), 2020.

Dozie Kanu / Transformer (Installation view), 2019.

Dozie Kanu / Seven useless flagpoles playing with gaud, 2022.

Dozie Kanu standing in a high ceiling space with white walls, minimal beige and gray colored objects around, a blue armchair and a black rug.

Photography by Luis Diaz Diaz.

The artwork/object/thing that I could never part with… It’s funny. I don’t think I own anything that I could never part with. I can move on from most objects if you force me to. I was just in Sayulita, Mexico celebrating the new year and me and some friends went out to this bar and we all got wasted. As we walked back to the house I ended up giving my favorite piece of jewelry away to this little kid we met in the streets. I really loved that necklace but also I think that’s why I let go of it. I do things like that a lot.

If I could, I would collect… Sculpture! Small and large. And architecture. Sounds slightly problematic but I would collect my favorite buildings.

My idea of happiness… 1) Retiring my parents. 2) Creating dynamic experiences for myself and others.

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