The List: Celebrating Groundbreaking Black Artists Around The World

It’s an exciting time for Black people especially when it comes to the representation and celebration of our history and culture through the art—music, paintings to photographs among others. What is more thrilling is that Black people, young and old, indigenes and diasporans, are the ones championing this cause as they take charge of the Black narrative through their special crafts. Here’s a quick roundup of celebrations of our culture through different mediums of art. 

Serpentine launches “Portraits for the Future”, celebrating a visionary photographer James Barnor

“Portraits for the Future” organized by Serpentine is is an exhibition that seeks to convene leading cultural figures for a night of exhibition and conversations to honor the work and influence of British Ghanaian photographer James Barnor. The event is also a Kickstarter campaign to build a community to realize a program of activity to bring Barnor’s work to the widest possible audiences. Donations from the public are also encouraged and they come with exciting rewards including limited edition prints by James Barnor among others.  You can donate here and also join the virtual viewing of the event and the virtual viewing of James Barnor’s “Past, Present and Future” film all throughout the month of April here.

Ghanaian painters redefining the global art market with Black Art 

Three Ghanaian painters Amoako Boafo, Kwesi Botchway and Otis Quiacoe are redefining the global market with their art. 

All born and raised in Ghana and educated at the prestigious Ghanatta College of Art and Design in Accra, the trio’s works have collectively redefined contemporary ideologies of Blackness and West African culture – whilst documenting the universal experience of simply being human.

The exhibition has been chosen to celebrate Gallery 1957’s 5th anniversary, a moment to reflect on the amazing effect they have had on the Ghanaian arts scene locally and globally – including the launch of the recent Yaa Asantewaa Prize for female artists in Ghana. 

Amoako Boafo born in Ghana is renowned for his in-depth art of African Diaspora representation beautifully achieved through his unique approach of creating with paint-dipped fingers to render his subjects’ faces, achieving a striking textural contrast. His work features elevated and accentuated figures mostly alone on single colored backgrounds, with the focal point being their gaze. Amoako challenges representation that objectifies and dehumanizes Blackness with bold colors and patterns, which celebrate his subjects touching on themes of community, political struggles, and the bond between friends. For his unique style of telling stories of Blackness, Amoako has been featured in many publications and has many awards in his name. He also launched a collaboration with Dior in the recent past, making him the first African artist to collaborate with the fashion house for a collection. 

Kwesi Botchway is an impressionist and a portrait artist, who’s passion for painting started at a very early age. With a strong belief that colors have attitude and meanings, Botchway paints Black characters with deep purple skin instead of the color black because purple is regarded as a color of royalty and power. Today he is known for his deep purple skin toned characters that capture the power and history of Blacks.  His painting achieved through impressionistic strokes of brushes evokes feelings of laughter and pride. They open a window for the world to peep into the way of life, achievements and struggles of his people whose stories are yet to be fully told.

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Otis Quiacoe started his journey into the world of painting through a strong fascination about canvases and paintings. Today he is a renowned for his large sized portraits that are rendered in tonal gray skins juxtaposed with bright and vibrantly colored modern outfits. These paintings depict both close friends and strangers and at large the Black community. He captures the daily scenes of Black people such as a visit to the barber shop, men with their friends, single subjects that are essentially the soul and humanity of his people to create a bond between the viewer and the paintings using the eyes; a focal point of almost all his works of art. 

These three talents have come together for the first collective exhibition of their paintings in their place of origin Accra, Ghana dubbed Homecoming: The Aesthetic of the Cool. You can catch up with the exhibition from now to the 9th of May.

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