Biography & Statement
Richard Mensah is a London based artist who works with and paints in different media. He describes himself as a born artist as he has had no formal art/painting education or training.
His love for drawing, sketching and painting was noticed at a very young age and in the very early years of his education in Ghana where he was born. He moved to the United Kingdom in the early 2000s and after a break from art for more than 15 years, Richard started painting again circa 2016 and has since been involved in exhibitions and commissions.
His style is mainly intuitive - he conceives an idea to paint but often starts the painting project before the idea is fully formed. He relies on his intuitions to bring the concept into reality. This mainly means that he does very little preparation before commencing any paintings and doesn't always know how the pieces of ideas come together to fully bring the concept into reality. His key guiding principle for every painting project is with patience every painting always ends well. He is driven by the need to tell the African and Black peoples story from their own perspective which is often missing in the art world. His paintings attempt to draw in audiences into the event or the story being told thereby bringing it to life for the audience. His paintings also uses a lot of different items as symbolism with often a lot of research behind them. These are often left for audiences to find and interpret and or use their visual imagination to fill missing gaps in the story. He takes inspiration from his African heritage, childhood memories and everyday happenings and is very passionate about social issues. He does not limit himself in his work; he paints and creates as inspired. His love of colours, nature and fascination about everyday life scenes show through his work. He is deeply fascinated by shapes, movement and shades and light and tries to capture these in his paintings. His paintings and creations are vivid, bright bold colours, captures various emotions and combines abstract and realism.
Richard been involved in numerous exhibitions and was selected in 2020 as one of 25 emerging artist in the UK to watch out for by a Mayfair gallery. He has also been shortlisted and longlisted for numerous awards including the 2021 Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition, the Robert Walters Group UK New Artist of the Year Award and the Jacksons Painting Prize.
What initially compelled you to create your work?
I was compelled to create this new body of work to draw a parallel of the current explosion of African/Black arts, music, fashion and many more to what happened during the Harlem Renaissance. I believe we are in a new or on the cusp of a new African/Black Renaissance.
What main topic does your artwork address and why?
My art mainly tries to tell the stories of African or Black people, reflecting both past and current socio-economic issues. The reason for focusing on African and Black stories is to balance the often-missing visual representation of critical African/Black historical events and narratives that should be given prominence but are completely missing or not covered adequately in art spaces. I also believe that it is our responsibility as artists to reflect on some of these events, so that lessons learned can be brought to the fore again to avoid them from being repeated. I also paint to bring balance to narratives which I believe require it. So to sum it up, I will quote Nina Simone, 'Artists reflect the times they live in.’ I will add that we need to reflect the past to learn lessons.
In your artistic journey, what has been the most challenging point thus far?
It is difficult to point to one thing as the most challenging. I like to challenge and push myself all the time. So, for me, every single day is challenging myself to be the best I can. There may be some few hiccups every now and then, but I see them as part of the growth process.
Is there an aspect of your life that especially impacts your practice?
I have a young family and sometimes it can be a little bit difficult trying to achieve the right balance of having time with them and time to create. However, I mainly overcome this by planning and prioritizing all the time with the help of a supportive family.
What do you do when you find yourself at a creative block?
I change my environment by moving away from art and doing something completely different, such as having a conversation with someone, having a walk around to see nature, reading/listening to audio books, etc. I find out that this reinvigorates me and gets my creative juices flowing again.