VISUAL ART IN AFRICA

Recent Art Works from Ghana,
West Africa.


The Artists:
Atta Kwami | Pamela Clarson | Kwame Akoto | Alex Amofa | El Anatsui,


Atta Kwami, Lecturer at the College of Art, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, Kumasi.

"The starting point of my inspiration is my environment. Many of my images have been shaped by my experiences of Atonsu Agogo, a commercial/workshop area in Kumasi, close to my studio. My works are not transpositions of African or European images but become new and real entities brought about by material concerns. The Ewe saying "All things belong to the earth" with its animistic connotations has implications for my art practice."


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1. "Gurensi Entryways", 1992 (print, 1/8, 33x21cm)
2. "Gurensi-Mossi", 1993 (oil on canvas, 109x76cm)
3. "Ragga-Rack", 1995 (oil on canvas, 77 x 64 cm)
4. "Sound Fabric III", 1997 (mixed media, 54x33cm)
5. "Vauxhall", 2002 (acrylic on jute, 54x33cm),
Shown at the Oriel Mostyn Gallery's 'Kumasi Junction' exhibition in Llandudno, North Wales from 14th September to 19th October 2002 (click HERE)


ARTIST'S STATEMENTS:
"Survey histories of world art invariably present a Euro-centric view that marginalises non-Western art except in cases where it has been 'colonised' by Western art, African art by the Cubists being the most obvious example. Atta Kwami belongs to the first generation of African artists for whom there is access to the visual cultures of the world, past & present to which, previously, only Western artists were entitled.

"In his art and in his critical writing, he argues for a position in which African art neither conforms to stereo-typed notions which have deep roots in tradition and history that exclude the development of Modernist attitudes, nor does it imitate modern Western art which would involve the exclusion of certain attitudes and traditions rooted in African art that he considers important (Peter Wheeler, 1993, Beradsmore Gallery Catalogue, London).

"All too often, opinion-makers from the West see their own art in innovative terms while African art is inauthentic unless it can be seen to be rooted in tradition. Why not reverse the assessment and judge Western Art by its authenticity and African Art by its originality? (Atta Kwami, 1995, Beardsmore Gallery Catalogue, London)



Pamela Clarkson-Kwami, Painter with studios at Ayeduase, Kumasi & Loughborough, UK.

ARTIST'S STATEMENTS:
"In this painting (No.1), inspired by the faded patterns on sarongs which she encountered during a visit to Malaysia, the figural presence takes the form of 'zigzag pots', made by Atta Kwami's mother, grace and reduced to hieratic silhouettes that frame foliate forms that could represent either jungle or domestic plants" (Peter Wheeler, 1993).

1. 2.

1. "Zigzag Pots", 1993 (oil on canvas, 91x91cm
2. "Kumase Blue", 2000 (acrylic on canvas, 91x122cm)


"Kumasi Blue 2000 (No.2) was painted in and from the garden in the yard in Ayeduase near Kumasi, Ghana where I have lived since 1993. @Kumase' is the Asante spelling and blue is a popular colour in the region. In the yard there are three oil palms which stand sentinel between the outer wall & the verandha. Indentations made by hacking-out the palm fruits & cutting away the palm fronds, give the tree a zig-zag look. The palm fronds archj over making familiar shapes (cathedral, mosque). Both positive and negative forms are particularly distinctive as it begins to go dark" (Pamela Clarkson, 2001, Beardsmore Gallery Catalogue).



Kwame Akoto, Master of 'Almighty God Art Works', Suame, Kumasi.

1. 2.

1. "Mary Akyaa Akoto, 2nd daughter of Kwame Akoto", 2002 (synthetic enamel paint on wood)
2. "A Wise Man's Eye is In His Head", 1992 (synthetic enamel paint on wood).

STATEMENT, after Dr.Liz.Peri in 'Kumasijunktion', a catalogue of a touring exhibition which opened in Llandudno, Wales/UK in September 2002:
"Kwama Akoto [street artist]...works from the imagination as well as painting about real life events... Apprentices to the 'masters' learn a full range of graphic techniques. They use silk screen printing techniques for logos on tee shirts, and stencil words on light cotton banners to advertise openings, meetings and events."



Alex Amofa, painter at 'Supreme Art Works', Asem, Kumasi.

1. 2.

1. "Bimpeh Hill", 1998 (acrylic & oil on calico)
2. "Hornblowers", 1998 (oil on calico).

STATEMENT, quoted from 'Kumasijunktion', a catalogue of a touring exhibition which opened in Llandudno, Wales/UK in September 2002:
"Amofa received a diploma in commercial art by correspondence from The Bennett College Sheffield (1959). A respected portraitist in West Africa, who has painted contemporary Asante & Mossi kings. A philantropist, Amofa has regularly mounted exhibitions for such charities as the Red Croass & Ghana Trust Fund."



El Anatsui, Professor of Sculpture, Fine Art & Applied Arts, University of Nigeria.

1. 2.

1. "Young Woman's Cloth", 2003 (recycled tincan tops)
2. "Wastepaper Bag", 2003 (recycled paper).

ARTIST's STATEMENT, quoted from 'El Anatsui GAWU', a catalogue of an exhibition at Oriel Mostyn Gallery in Llandudno, Wales/UK in November 2002/January 2004:
"The scope of meaning associated with cloth is so wide I have not heard it more aptly and succinctly put than by Sonya Clark, an impressive fibre artist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA. Clark averred that cloth is to the African what monuments are to Westerners. Indeed their capacity and application to commemorate events, issues, persons and objectives outside of themselves are so immense and fluid it even rubs off on other practices."

(Images & Text by Courtesy of the Artists)

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