LOCKING IT DOWN: Contemporary Art from Ghana (2000-2019)

April 1 - April 29

Janet Rady Fine Art is pleased to present ‘LOCKING IT DOWN: Contemporary Art from Ghana (2000-2019)’ featuring the work of four Ghanaian artists, Kwadwo Ani, Maxwell Boadi, Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, and Patrick Tagoe-Turkson, revealing a tangible thread which traces the trajectory of Ghanaian contemporary art practice. Online only from 1st to 29th April.

On the international art scene, contemporary art from Ghana has been broadly associated with two genres.

First, the work of the maestro, El Anatsui. He initially utilised discarded, scorched wooden pieces; and then later, shimmering flattened bottle tops transformed into gigantic metal cloths.

The genre was further explored by Ibrahim Mahama with his mammoth jute sacks.

Second, is the rise of hyperreal figurative portraits on monochrome canvas backgrounds as exemplified by the work of Jeremiah Quarshie, Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe and Amoako Boafo; lately this style is being replicated by almost every young Ghanaian artist.

The pandemic and its recurrent sweeping lockdowns has fuelled introspection and detailed review of myriad subjects – film, literature, music and of course art.

Our review has unearthed certain artworks that reveal a tangible thread which enables us to tie down/ lock down the trajectory of Ghanaian contemporary art practice.

There are the striking, colourful, wall aggregations of beach salvaged flip-flop remnants from the atelier of the Takoradi based artist, Patrick Tagoe-Turkson. Once again, from the waste and detritus of unhinged consumerism, Tagoe-Turkson like Anatsui produces beauty and objects of reflection.

The latest portraits of Kye Quaicoe evolved from his much earlier engaging frenetic images with multi-coloured backgrounds and text. The eyes of his images even then were focused on the viewer.

It is hard to miss the searing social commentary transmitted from newspaper clippings or scrawled graffiti like text. These early works were deemed collectible by local patrons before he came to international attention.

But even a decade or more before that, there were figurative compositions by Kwadwo Ani which exuded a childlike – but certainly not a childish quality.

They were suffused with infectious humour while providing a fresh and incisive perspective on modern Ghanaian society.

Maxwell Boadi was at the same time wielding his palette knife with a dexterity that was far advanced for his age as he captured beach and market scenes. His use of colour and light sometimes lent a cinematic slant to his paintings.

An appreciation of all these currents will enable young and seasoned collectors to lock down what is fresh, interesting, important and innovative in the Ghanaian contemporary art scene.

A perfect place to start is with the work of the artists in this exhibition.

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