Hyperrealism visual artist Leodegreat Orji became the winner of the first-ever Battle of the Canvas live competition at the Sugar Castle in Houston.

More than 100 people attended the competition hosted by Chukwunonso Ofili, the multi-faceted artist, entertainer, and CEO of Ofiliated who gathered 16 local artists to battle head-to-head in three rounds showcasing their best work in under 20 minutes to earn bragging rights and a chance to win a $500 cash prize.

“The art show is set on three themes, vulnerability, love, and euphoria. We want the audience to get a glimpse at the process and the perspective of an artist starting from a blank canvas,” said Ofili. “The majority of the time when we artist do things, it’s underappreciated and people don’t know how much work it takes to produce an art piece. This is the community’s opportunity to see what it takes to create a masterpiece and to showcase the city’s talent to the world.”

Orji’s dark and thought-provoking designs impressed the audience [the judges] that ultimately made him this year’s winner.

“This is my first time participating in a competition like this. I was so nervous, the pressure was on, but once I got into my zone, it felt natural,” said Orji. “This showcase is just the tip of the iceberg. What artists do in the studios are way more complex than this and I’m glad the community got to witness it.” 

Nearly 100 people were in attendance for the competition backed by major sponsors such as Majority Africa, Wazobia African Market, entertainment and hospitality group Shekpeknights as well as local Black food vendors King Suya and Good Food Gourmet Vegan to name a few.

“We are celebrating Black art, and that concept delves deep into our food, fashion, our music and you see that here today,” said Loretta Oyakhire, CEO of Canis Beverages.

“I’m a big supporter of Ofili, he is genuine and passionate and consistent about his work,” said attendee Peggy Iwunze. “It’s important to have a safe space for artists to share their gifts with others who look like them and appreciate them.”

All art created was set to be auctioned off to potential buyers at the conclusion of the event.

“There are so many negative things going on in the world. What we really need right now is art to bring us together,” Ofili said.

Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...