Àsìkò has been taking “visual notes” all his life, from his father’s collection of local Nigerian art to his formative trip to the Vatican city. This wide-ranging visual culture will later become the bedrock of his acute aesthetics. In 2005, while studying for his chemistry and pharmacy degree, Àsìkò bought his first camera and discovered in photography a fantastic diary-like tool.
Beyond his daily visual musings, in 2015, Àsìkò started to see photography as a tool to document his journey from Nigeria to England; depicting his experience with displacement and acculturation. Conversations with friends, souvenirs and dreams, became cues to generate new bodies of work. Àsìkò proposes a tale of the British Nigerian experience in London. While always centering the black body in his images, Àsìkò proceeds to hybridise both of these cultures through objects and ornaments.
If his images speak of our contemporary times, Àsìkò includes fragments of history in his compositions. As he states, he “looks back in order to look forward”. This frame of reference enables him to explore ideas around heritage, especially Yoruba folklore and elements of transnational cultures. Àsìkò finds inspiration in books on African spirituality and deities in ancestral tales. His portraits become guides into lesser-known parts of West African customs and myths. Photography becomes a way of researching, understanding, and sharing.
Àsìkò is unafraid to confront and challenge the legacies of patriarchy and gender inequality, and aspires to depict the complexity of womanhood including traumas, and vulnerability, but also strength and joy. He aims at creating codes for an empowered iconography of black men and women. More recently, in an attempt to explore ideas about masculinity, Àsìkò has been developing his practice of self-portraits. In a cinematic or theatrical way, Àsìkò uses his creative practice as a way of processing life’s challenges and helps him work through socio-political events.
Àsìkò’s work has been displayed in a variety of major institutions from the Gagosian – for the ‘Rites of Passage’ exhibition in Britannia Street, London – to the Venice Biennale. Through the artist’s unique hybridisation of African and European aesthetics in his practice, as well as his focus on capturing Yoruba culture in diaspora contexts, Àsìkò has created his own unique lens, which has subsequently made him become one of the most exciting and highly anticipated young artists in Britain today.
Follow Àsìkò on Instagram@asiko_artist