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Artist Interview: Ade Adesina RSA


Ade Adesina is a printmaker based in Aberdeen, Scotland. He was born in a city called Ibadan, Nigeria and moved to the UK in the early 2000s. He studied Fine Art at Bexley College in 2007 before moving to Scotland to further his education at Grays School of Art, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. Ade graduated in 2012 with BA Honours in Printmaking and is now an acclaimed contemporary printmaker, being a Royal Scottish Academician.

Ade mostly works with various printmaking mediums including linocut, woodcut and etching, and has experimented with installations, sculpture making and oil painting in the past. His show 'Phantom' is on display at The Biscuit Factory until the end of January 2023


What drew you into the life of an artist?

I remember painting and drawing as young as 8 years old and think this was due to me being inspired by a couple of people in my childhood neighbourhood and schools. At that time, it was a very popular trend to make your own comic books. I was particularly inspired by three good comic book artists from around my childhood area. I was able to see their
finished work and their work process. This was the first creative experience that had an impact on me.

There was also a lot of creativity in my environment such as traditional textile making and all sorts of wood crafts. I also remember in the early 90s sign makers and billboard makers were all over the place.

Artist Ade Adesina at the opening of 'Phantom' at The Biscuit Factory

Ade Adesina in the studio

What does your process involve - how does a piece of your
artwork transition from idea to finished piece?

Mark-making is very important in my work. I have always made it one of my missions to create new ways of working with linocut. Being a printmaker, I experiment with different mediums of printmaking. For example woodcut, screenprint, etching etc. I particularly enjoy working with etching because of the range of tones that can be achieved. Lino also gave me the freedom to work on a larger scale and lino can be worked on exclusively in the studio until it comes to the actual printing of the lino
For the past couple of years, I have been using Dremel multi-tools. This has given me a lot of freedom in my mark-making. I think about the Dremel as my pen and I use micro drills from 0.2mm up to 1.5mm. The best way to describe how I use the micro drills and the effect that it achieves is to compare it to pointillism. An important point to make is that when it comes to linocut, every mark that you make is negative and also back to front.
Therefore creating a light tone takes a lot of drilling. It takes months of drilling to create the light tone for a print. I also use various etching tools such as etching needles and burnishers to make fine lines or to create different tones and movements. The kinds of marks that you get from these tools are quite delicate which makes the printing process challenging and interesting.
I impact directly onto whatever material I’m working on: no sketchbooks, sketches, or a plan; mixing, and collating images and ideas to tell a story or make a statement. With a minimal pencil or pen drawing, I use my cutting tools just like I would use a pen or charcoal on paper. I enjoy trying tools not necessarily made for lino cutting, woodcutting, or etching to make varying marks and tones - just to see how they come out in the first print proofing.

Your work is concerned with social, environmental and
political issues - how did this become the focus of your

I grew up in an environment where the news is always on, and I feel like I have a fair knowledge of the world. Also, I'm inspired by David Attenborough's documentaries and various other documentaries about the planet, the species, and nature. I feel like these are important issues that need to be addressed. From environmental disasters to political and humanitarian crises around the world. These are some of the issues I like to tackle in my work.

I like to highlight the connection between issues and places, the past, present and future. I also like to highlight the beauty of our planet. One of the artists I looked at earlier in my career is Edward Burra, his storytelling and record keeping of particular time in history has been big insparation the way I aproach my work.

Conditional Love by Ade Adesina | £2600

Twenty Twenty by Ade Adesina and Ahmad Ahmad | £1600

How did the collaborative works come together creatively
and logistically?

Every collaboration is different and most of the artists I’ve collaborated with in the past are none printmakers. This brings an exciting and interesting challenge to the projects. Sometimes I work side by side with the other artist and sometimes the composition of the project basically starts from the conversations and exchanging of ideas. There’s been times when artists would send me sketches of an idea and my challenge is to interpret the story and transform the idea into printmaking medium. I have also enjoyed working side by side on a particular lino block with three of the artists I’ve collaborated. For me I think, collaboration as a creative person is really important because sometimes it can take you out of your comfort zone and open new doors to new ways of making work.

How do you want people to feel when they see your work?

Most of my recent works ask questions on issues around the globe and the hope of finding an answer or some conclusion along the way. I will be happy if people can see those questions and find their own answers..

Ade and visitors - 'Phantom' opening night at The Biscuit Factory

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