Richard Ayodeji Ikhide imbues fluid watercolours with the aesthetics of sci-fi comics

Manga, Moebius and mythology combine in Richard’s intricate paintings, exploring cultural histories and possibilities for the future.

Date
27 January 2022

Across the work of Richard Ayodeji Ikhide, a pool of influences coalesce. Stylistically, the London-based artist says comic-artist Moebius had a significant impact on his practice. Echoes of this can be seen in Richard’s own detailed pen work, often sitting against looser, shifting watercolour forms. On the latter, he attributes another influence, Yoshitaka Amano, a concept designer working primarily with watercolours for the Final Fantasy games, which “usually incorporat[ed] mythological figures from various cultures”, Richard describes. Kerry James Marshall is another inspiration, “in terms of his dedication to the Black aesthetic and wanting to include the experiences of the Black subject within the canon on painting”, he tells It’s Nice That.

As a kid in the 90s, Richard grew up watching cartoons and reading comics and manga – mediums which still breathe in the futuristic, layered worlds he builds today. A range of interests and concepts play out, from science fiction and physics to “non-physical realities” and myths. “But it’s interesting,” Richard continues on his childhood inspirations, “because prior to coming to England, I’m consuming these forms of media alongside my own cultural history of being a Nigerian so both have come together into this blend of the ancient and the future,” he summarises.

Richard says he likes to think of work existing in a “Future Past setting”, referencing antiquity but also possible future developments. While they might seem opposing ideas, he explains that the two states are actually more interweaved than we might expect. “There are various aspects of humanities antiquity which we don’t understand and almost seem futuristic in some way,” he says, “like megalithic sites, which seems to be an ancient building technology which has been lost to us and something which we can replicate today.” In this way, even when Richard’s work digs into the past and explore ideas from history, it can still appear futuristic.

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Richard Ayodeji Ikhide: AWÓN OŚERE 2 (Copyright © Richard Ayodeji Ikhide, 2020)

Drawing plays a huge part in how Richard explores these themes. The artist initially studied a textile degree at Central Saint Martins, before going to the Royal Drawing School and making the switch to fine art. He found another key aspect of his practice here too: “I had tried a few things while I was on the drawing year but seemed to have an affinity with watercolours,” he says, “even though they could be a bit tedious to use at the scales I work on, there is something meditative about working with watercolours which I enjoy.”

In one of Richard’s latest watercolours, titled Ko Ara Re (Constructing Yourself), ideas around this “the future past space” are explored further. Depicting a “childlike figure” moulding another figure out of “clay-like material” in a workshop, Richard says both “cultural motifs and sculptures from antiquity” feature. Small sculptures line the edges of the work, both beautifully precise and abstract. Richard explains that it’s “based on the idea of the individual constructing one’s sense of self identity through various experiences and influences both conscious and unconscious”.

There are a lot of fascinating concepts to chew over in each work. And within them, hints of recognisable media, like the kind of shows you might have watched growing up – especially if you were a sci-fi nut – offer viewers a familiar way in.

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Richard Ayodeji Ikhide: Ile Iwe ti awon aami(School of Symbols) (Copyright © Richard Ayodeji Ikhide, 2021)

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Richard Ayodeji Ikhide: Ko ara re (Constructing Yourself) (Copyright © Richard Ayodeji Ikhide, 2021)

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Richard Ayodeji Ikhide: Siseda Owo (Creating Hands) 4 (Copyright © Richard Ayodeji Ikhide, 2021)

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Richard Ayodeji Ikhide: Oju Inu 6 (Copyright © Richard Ayodeji Ikhide, 2019)

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Richard Ayodeji Ikhide: Watcher 1 (Copyright © Richard Ayodeji Ikhide, 2021)

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Richard Ayodeji Ikhide: Oju Inu 7 (Copyright © Richard Ayodeji Ikhide, 2019)

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Richard Ayodeji Ikhide: JagunJagun (Copyright © Richard Ayodeji Ikhide)

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Richard Ayodeji Ikhide: AWÓN OŚERE 1 (Copyright © Richard Ayodeji Ikhide, 2020)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, she worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.

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