Photography by Lis Kasper
Photography by Lis Kasper
Sunny Asemota is a multi-artist, who draws, paints, models, repaints, sculpts, designs sets and constructs installations, each and altogether with great dynamism, bringing all sorts of materials into play.
Sunny’s work hangs and stands in museums, in art associations, in private and public collections. And on buses.
Sunny is an artist of our time working
in contemporary idiom, completely his own while at once giving a nod to graffiti and naive art. His paintings have a bold directness, in style going straight to the canvas surface, perspective dropped.
There is no minimalism here, gone are cautious brush strokes. Violent and expressive. Colours clean and strong. Sculptures standing up, erect as totems.
Yet there are secrets in these pictures and painted sculptures, and symbols, too, many recurring – the royal crown, the X, the distorted loops, mouths, snakes and spiral shapes, arrows, eyes … Stark references to other cultures on other continents. Sunny provides texts to many of his paintings speaking both to and against the image. His work has humour, Mojo, duality, drama. You can read the works taking their fine, decorative effects at face value. Or you can go a touch deeper for signs of studies in ethnicity, identity, sexuality, sensuality, and other forms of expression and cultural ‘difference’.
For Sunny his artistic CV starts in 1996 with Diaries from London, picked for the Charlottenborg Spring Exhibition of that year. He looks on this work as his initiation into the art world, a recognition of his talent, of been invited in. It began long before, of course.
Yet, how does something begin? When do you know that this is what you want? That that something, in this case art, is that to which you will dedicate your life, and not just indulge as a random diversion.
Sunny had long been concerned with the philosophical and the metaphysical, on creating space and interpreting reality. After four years studying theology and philosophy at university, by sheer chance he was offered a workshop brimming with materials in Amsterdam. And so, he set to work. In an active search for his own identity he travelled to Africa in the late Eighties. This trip acted as the catalyst for a desire to tell stories and interpret the world in image. It became a journey of discovery setting the direction of an African mode of expression, echoing Sunny’s own attitudes and sense of colour.
That journey precipitated his creative urge. Sunny moved to spend a winter on Bornholm, painting, testing his talent, working with clay and other materials. Finn Karlsen became his ceramics teacher. Sunny lived for many years on Bornholm, going deeper, honing, concentrating. The island remains a magnet for regular returns. For long periods he lived and worked in other parts of the world, too, in Vence, France, for instance, where Kai Lindemann was his tutor, guiding him in new ways and methods. Sunny is wont to pick up inspiration wherever he happens to be, in Cuba, New York, London, from whence Diaries from London, his work at 1996 Spring Exhibition, originated.
By Regitze Oppenhejm