Àsìkò – born 1978 Nigeria
Ade 'Àsìkò' Okelarin is a UK based Nigerian conceptual artist who explores his ideas within the medium of photography, mixed media and film. The stories told through his images are an anthology of his emotional state and its intersection with culture and identity. They are a love letter to the African story, celebrating the beauty of color, womanhood and the African way of life. The artist creates symbolic representations to question culture, beauty, identity and power, and fight against the barriers of patriarchy.
Through the use of constructed storytelling and the application of composition, form and movement, Àsìkò draws the viewer into a conceptual narrative that radiates emotions of strength, vulnerability, defiance and loneliness. His work is constructed in the narrative that straddles between fantasy and reality as a response to his experiences of identity, culture and heritage. It is organic, surreal, emotionally layered, all informed within an African cultural aesthetic as well as his connection to the contemporary world the artist lives in.
Àsìkò explores different aspects of African cultures and their intersection with womanhood. For one of his series, “ase”, the artist worked with Yoruba women to visualize the divine energy encapsulated within the black woman; her power, her energy, her vulnerability. In “Conversations”, he created a set of conceptual images addressing the subject of violence against women and exposing the lasting impact of a patriarchal system that uses culture as a tool to ensure its durability by suppressing female expression and sexuality.
“As a kid who read comics, Black Panther was one of the very few superheroes I came across. For a child, it is a beautiful thing to see yourself represented in a positive light in pop culture.”