Àsìkò is a visual artist who expresses his ideas through the medium of photography and mixed media.
He was born in London, England and spent his formative years in Lagos, Nigeria and adolescent years in London.
His work is constructed in the narrative that straddles between fantasy and reality as a response to his experiences of identity, culture and heritage.
His project Layers was featured on the BBC and Huffington Post and exhibited at the South Bank in London. His recent project Adorned was recently exhibited at The Gallery of African Art in London and made up his first solo show at Rele Gallery in Nigeria.
He currently creates works in London and Nigeria.
Apart from gallery and exhibition work, Àsìkò creates portraiture work for clients in the Fashion, Entertainment and Music industry.
I catch up with this visionary man to know how it all began for him, why he chose photography and discuss the concepts behind some of his photography series.
Before committing to photography, can you give us a quick background into what you did previously from your education to career, as I am aware you have a science background?
Yes indeed, I have a science degree in Chemistry and a Masters in Bioinformatics. Back then I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t have the intuition towards art I have now.
At what point did you realize you wanted and needed to commit fully to photography and what influenced that realization and subsequent decision?
I don’t feel there was a eureka moment in my transition which is still ongoing. I feel I progressed naturally between careers and was decidedly cautious as I have a mortgage and responsibilities.
During your period of self-education, can you take us through how you educated yourself?
Self-education is a strange one as there are no guidelines or anyone to help direct your path. I was like a sponge at the beginning, soaking everything from photography blogs and magazines. Initially I focused on technique on how to use the camera proficiently and what makes a good image. After a while I slowly discovered that beautiful is not enough for me and so I started to read up about art, go to museums and galleries. I still feel I am self-educating and sometimes wonder whether I should have gone to art school, but another debate for another day.
Why do you prefer doing conceptual photography to other genres?
I love that I can play with ideas and concepts, mulling them over and stretching them out. I believe photography is an expressive art form that allows us to talk about the things we want to talk about, reveal our secrets and express our point of view.
How would you describe your work?
My work is autobiographical and charts my journey of self-discovery. From exploring my issues of mental health to my discovery of womanhood and my African heritage, my work is a form of expression and therapy. My work moves between the reality and fantasy and is informed on how I see the world.
Over the years you have created some amazing work and perfected your craft the best way only you could and that takes having an imaginative and creative mind. How do your concepts for your images come into thought?
Thank you. That’s very kind of you to say. I believe we are all products of our environment and what we consume. My concepts and ideas come from my experiences and the things that shape me. I feel my childhood and things I saw inform some of the work I produce. For instance the ‘Adorned’ series started from a memory I had as a child at a ceremony in my mothers township in Ogun state. At the ceremony I was transfixed by a woman I came across, she was a tall and powerful woman who carried herself with dignity and pride. She wore layers and layers of jewellery and seemed to command a level of reverence at the ceremony.
To read the rest of this interview, grab a copy of Volume 4, Vision via our shop and be inspired by the work and words of a phenomenal, gifted and truly remarkable man Àsìkò.
Interview by Thomasina R. Legend
All images by Àsìkò Artist