Thursday, 6 June 2013

Artist Uncovered: Ade Adesina

Martine Foltier Pugh presents Art in Healthcare latest artist

One of the highlights of the Art in Healthcare calendar is the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) New Contemporaries annual exhibition, not only because of the concentration of emerging talents on display, hand picked amongst the best of Scotland’s recent graduates but also because they are able to purchase works for their collection with funding from the Hope Scott Trust. 
This year Art in Healthcare have been bowled over by the art of master printmaker Ade Adesina, who graduated from Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen.
    RSA exhibition, image courtesy of the artist

It is easy to see why. The Nigerian born artist now based in the UK brings together technical virtuosity with thought-provoking themes. His highly detailed lino cuts and etchings showcase his dual Nigerian and British cultural heritage and his concern for environmental issues is delivered with a keen sense of humour. The accuracy of his drawings comes mostly from direct observation recorded through sketches and photographs while experiencing other cultures. Travelling is important as it helps him formulate the issues of cultural identity that are at the heart of his practice. 
RSA exhibition, image courtesy of the artist

The amount of details and repetitive marks that fill his landscapes is astonishing, each print taking him on average two months to complete.  He recalls the moment when, while visiting Paris as an undergraduate, he was awestruck by an impressionist painting by Claude Monet where tiny brush strokes filled up the large canvas. Adesina revels in labour intensive processes.

“I like to work hard and I like people that are hard working. Seeing the Monet painting, I felt the pain and sleepless nights.”

Mirage lino cut 112cmx76cm
image courtesy of the artist

There are echoes of Monet’s paintings in ‘Mirage’, one of the three acquisitions by Art in Healthcare, where almost every head of wheat stands out across the expansive field. The deep trenches carved by heavy agricultural machinery take the eye down to the myriad of ripples on the Firth of Forth and to flotillas of fish farm enclosures flanked by the rail and road bridges, with the city spread around Edinburgh castle in the far distance. The use of iconic imagery here makes intensive farming appear even more incongruous and unsettling.

Decline lino cut 112cmx76cm
image courtesy of the artist

‘Decline’ is a comment on the disappearance of the majestic and slow growing baobabs because of unsustainable logging. In the print, the trees seem to act as buffers between the restless and troubled sky and the ground. What will happen when they have all gone?

North East Safari  etching 100cmx70cm
image courtesy of the artist

 In ‘North East Safari’, where ‘North East’ refers to the Grampian region with Dunnottar Castle and the oil rigs in the distance, the punch is forceful and the argument is multi-layered. From the nesting grouse, that famous native bird game, in the foreground to the African endangered wildlife roaming the plain below, the peace in this Garden of Eden is about to be shattered by the hunt appearing on the left while the feigned naivety of the composition derides colonial perceptions of African culture. 
This satirical element transforms the work and places Adesina within the tradition of artists such as Chris Offili and Yinka Shonibare who both inspire him.

Adesina’s remarkable talent was rewarded during the RSA New Contemporaries exhibition by no less than three prizes. He has also now sold out a number of print editions. Altogether this is a highly deserved achievement that predicts a bright future.

Martine Foltier Pugh is a freelance writer and visual artist based in Edinburgh


With thanks to Ade Adesina for his information and images


Ade Adesina website
The Hope Scott Trust
Gray's School of Art
The Royal Scottish Academy New Contemporaries exhibition

And special thanks to Balfour Beatty Investments and Arts & Business Scotland for their financial support, which has enabled Art in Healthcare to produce 18 Artist Uncovered blog posts and accompanying video productions.

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