Joseph Aina (b. 1996) is a Nigerian-British Artist living and working in both London and Windsor. Joseph is currently studying Painting at the Royal College of Art, upon the receipt of the Royal College of Art Studentship. Joseph obtained a BA in Law & Psychology at The University of Kent (2018) and a Graduate Diploma in Fine Art from the RCA (2020). He is also the recipient of the Eaton Fund and recently took part in The Changing Room Gallery Residency, London. Joseph’s practice is also extends into music, fashion, and business. He was awarded the entrepreneur of the year award (2016) at the University of Kent for his artist management company JMArt Space. He also recently launched his clothing line ‘JMApparel’ which he is currently growing with the help of the RCA creative band accelerator Program.
In my mind, I am a psychologist conducting an inquiry into the psyche of a man of Nigerian blood raised on British soil. I associate closely with this man, though depict him from a distance so his representation might provide some valuable precedence for men of similar circumstances. Each painting is a page within a biography of the black man displaying past transgressions, current psychology, and then reaches towards predictions for his future within western civilisation.
What I offer is a commentary on the ills of popular culture and ideas of race. The use of multiple layers of paint and paper helps establish a history and energy within the painting. Although many of these layers remain unseen, they are in place to create a street wall ambiance so as to place my audience on the cold streets of London. The irony of my ‘Street Art’ on a canvas further helps display a psychological tension between looking from a position of privilege that strides to conflict with stereotypical representations of blackness.
With this understanding, I often visually reference prominent black artists to ensure my work builds onto existing narratives. Thus, I draw freehand with chalks and oil pastel treating my canvas like a sketchbook to ensure my works remain honest, direct, and personal. I am aware that my perspective is unique, so my work remains naked. To signal this, I leave elements of the first layer visible for the audience to connect with and follow the process of making.