say your words to the sun.
2019 - 2020.

Say Your Words to the Sun is the first major solo show by Manchester-based artist Ekun Richard, featuring oil paintings on canvas and card, and one textile composition. “My intention with this show is to present a personal ode to nature, dedicated to the begetter of it all — the sun,” Richard says. “It is my way of saying thank you to the sun, and appreciating everything she does for us. The life and nature she fosters inspire the colours I use, and the way I think and feel when creating my work.”

Warm, tactile shades of brown, ochre, terracotta, moss-green and dusty orange typify the paintings in this series, combined with a distinct language of bold, curving forms. The earthy, organic tones, applied with deep brush strokes, heighten the works’ materiality, as if one could reach out to touch the surface of the paint and feel warm, sun-baked soil against one’s fingers, or the comforting rays of the sun itself. “Oil painting allows me to build deep, rich colours by gradually adding layers of hue over time,” says Richard. “I can spend hours mixing each colour as I add warmth and energy to my paintings. Colour is tied directly to energy, and for me, this energy comes from the complex structure and textures of the oils interacting with each other.”

The textile piece in Say Your Words to the Sun is handstitched and hand-dyed by Richard, using silk tree cotton grown in Basse, Gambia. “The idea behind my textiles is to create something using only natural materials,” he says. “The organic dye is from plant matter, such as onion skins, which I might collect over a number of weeks. I like to be able to take these natural materials and turn them into something new. I stitch each aspect of the composition together, including strips of fabric made from braided wool. The work is completely from my hands.”

Richard’s compositions begin as words that he writes in his sketchbook in response to his experiences and observations, which often become the title for each piece. Addressing the sun directly, such as You Are Always in the Sky, and Where You Rise and Set — or referring to the clouds, sky and earth, with Tell the Clouds to Go Away and We Are Just Two Rocks — the words behave like fragments of poetry, illustrating an intimate and touching connection between the artist and the natural world. “There is a grounded meaning to my abstract work, which I think is discernible through contemplation of these words,” he says. “They offer a sense of narrative and a suggestion of delicacy and thought, which is all part of communicating the energy and substance of nature through my work.”

Shown and sold exclusively through Francis Gallery.

- based in manchester, uk.                                                                                                                                       
© All images belong to Ekun Richard unless stated.