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Richard Adeola On Queer Expression through Painting

By Olanrewaju O. Damzy

Richard Adeola is a Nigerian artist and painter who focuses on exploring Queer expression through art.

Born in Zaria Kaduna, Richard Adeola is an artist who has wedged his way into the art world with his innovative creations. His artistic journey started at a young age and Adeola have since honed his skills through formal education, and is currently obtaining a degree in University of Benin, Nigeria.

Throughout Richard's career, his work has traversed various mediums, from traditional painting to cutting-edge digital art. His artistic evolution is a testament to his unrelenting passion and commitment to self-expression.

Richard Adeola portrait
Photo: Richard Adeola

Not everyone gets to be roommates with a painter, but I do. Everyday, I wake up and the small of paint hits me, and I am instantly reminded of where I am, and who I am, namely Richard's roommate. One of my favorite past time is watching him paint and trying to decode what message he is trying to communicate.

Richard explains to me that he started painting at the age of five.

"I choose art and it choose me," he says. "The whole process of becoming an artist, alongside my passion for it, has been my major strength from the on-set, and God has been faithful too,"

"The time I dedicate to painting varies depending on the size of the canvas and medium used, as some paint mediums have longer drying time. On average, though, most paintings take at least two weeks. I need the time to get the fine details right."

In an average Nigerian home, art is of no use, as it yields no income. Lots of Nigerian artists first have to struggle with resistance from family in their decision to pursue their dreams. Richard expresses that he has been rather lucky to not experience that.

"There wasn't resistance from my immediate family, but there were others who undermined the career part. When I see my work today, and see how I'm able to make a living from my passions, it makes me happy that I didn't relent," he says.

Most his time and efforts nowadays are dedicated to the creative process, and Richard explains that ideas for great works never hits him at once.

"They come to me bit by bit, and they are influenced by experiences or my mood," he explains. "I am the kind of artist that likes to paint by all means, and don't only make art when I feel like it. I'm highly motivated by the overall satisfaction and fulfilment that comes from creating a piece."

Expressing Queerness Through Art

Photo: Richard Adeola painting
Photo: Richard Adeola

Richard daring work often portray Queer expressions, something he does to represent the community and encourage diversity in art. He explains that he does this through the subtle use of bright colours.

An example of this is in his painting, Eyo. Eyo is a sacred festival that features tall masquerades with sticks and dancing. It is a significant part of the culture of the Yoruba Peoples of Nigeria.

A rumour says that the Masquerade's costume is worn by men who dance at each festival. Another one claims the masquerades are spirits of ancestors who watch over the people. Richard tell us that regardless of who wears the costumes, Eyo can be inclusive, and that the LGBTQ community needs their own Eyo too.

"The piece captures the Yoruba cultural heritage, but with a twist - the use of color was deliberate," he says.

Eyo by Richard Adeola
Photo: Eyo by Richard Adeola

Following the theme of communicating Queerness is Paradox, a painting of a two-faced man. It's to represent the two faces of the Nigerian LGBTQ community, not because they desire it but because they need it to survive.

"Paradox takes the viewer on a visual journey, showing them what it means to learn from pain," he says.

In Nigeria, artist who give heed to Queer expressions are often looked upon in a strange manner, and Richard explains that he, too, experiences this.

"I suppose there's a benefit to this, like it's almost the point of what I do. I want to spark those conversations that are avoided in our society. I have tried explaining this concept, but a lot people don't get it. Given how our society is, this is one of the ways I can give the LGBTQ community a voice," he says.

Taking a peek into the future, Richard talks about the kind of Artist he aspires to be. He says,"I want to be the kind of artist that does not limit himself. I'd like to explore different art styles and mediums, and I'd like to be a voice for diversity through the art i create."

Social media:

Instagram: @Officialricharts


Twitter(X): @realricharts


About the Writer:

Olanrewaju Oluwafemi Damzy is Yoruba. He is studying for his first degree in mass communication at the University of Benin, Nigeria. Damzy has always been an avid reader and lover of literature and it became natural for him to write when he began to fell burdened by the numerous stories around him. Damzy is concerned about writing the experiences of Queer people who live in Nigeria and how they navigate their sexuality. He also writes the stories that calls to him. he hopes to one day attend a creative writing workshop taught by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.


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