Contemporary Ghanaian Art is finally receiving the international recognition it deserves
It seems everyone I know is on their way to the same holiday location this year. That’s my home, Ghana, previously named the Gold Coast.
It’s part of a Ghana government-sponsored outreach to the diaspora aptly named the “Year of Return” and judging by the traffic jams at Ghana’s International airport there is a ‘WHOLE LOT’ of people coming.
We at AMAF want to give you a brief overview of the thriving art market in Ghana, galleries to check out whilst you are here and tips to securing an artwork that could turn out to be a valuable masterpiece in the years to come.
Recently there has been an increase in enquires by international collectors specifically looking for Contemporary African Art. In the last two years, sales of African Art have tripled. We see auction houses like Sotheby’s London and Bonhams London increasing capacity in their Modern and Contemporary African Art departments. All these indicators bode very well for future values for established Ghanaian artists.
Ghana’s economic growth has been strong over the past decade, with annual GDP per capita growth at 4.4 percent between 2006 and 2017. Ghana will be the fastest-growing economy in the world this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. The lender’s growth forecast of 8.8 percent for the producer of cocoa, gold and oil.
2019 has been a great year for Ghanaian artists. Our country’s first-ever Venice Biennale drew rave reviews this year and the much-celebrated Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye is back transforming a 17th-century castle into a world-class museum.
Our country’s profile has been boosted by the success of such international art stars as El Anatsui, Ibrahim Mahama, and Lynette Yiadom- Boakye (who, although born in London, is of Ghanaian origin). Mahama recently founded an artist-run project space, the Savannah Center for Contemporary Art, in the city of Tamale, less than an hour’s flight from Accra.
The recent Miami Basel art fair brought a lot of international recognition for Ghana’s rising star Amoako Boafo. He sold every single piece offered at the international art fair for prices ranging between $15,000 and $45,000. His recent appointment as the inaugural artist in residence at the Rubell Museum in Miami surely boosted his visibility.
Artists and Where to Find them….
Among the artists whose work is reminiscent of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s style, Gideon Appah’s is some of the most captivating. He is a mixed media artist of Ghanaian descent whose narratives are reflective of the strong family bonds and religious activities that informed his childhood. Appah uses acrylic upon collaged layers of appropriated posters, prints, and photographs that reference his family history. This summer his exhibition Love Letters was on show at Gallery1957 and was a great success. Appah has exhibited in Paris, Johannesburg, New York, Hamburg and Accra in various solo and group shows. In 2015, he was the recipient of the 1st Merit Prize at Barclays L’Atelier Art Competition, giving him a three-month residency at Bag Factory Studios, Johannesburg and making him the first international artist to qualify in the competition’s history.
He sold his first piece in 2016 to a German collector for $100. The collector then started selling some of his pieces to his friends for $500-$900. After he won the L’Atelier competition, his pieces started selling for $2000 and went on to $2500 after his exhibition at Nubuke Foundation in Accra, Ghana. Gideon’s work now ranges from $2,500 to $15,000 depending on size and medium. His work continues to garner attention and he continues to create pieces worth paying attention to. It can be viewed at Gallery1957 in Accra. His work continues to garner international attention and he continues to create pieces worth paying attention to.
SERGE ATTUKWEI CLOTTEY
Serge Attukwei Clottey is a multimedia artist known for work that highlights the power of mundane objects. His work questions material culture through the use of yellow gallon containers, a movement, and commentary on consumerism, which he calls “Afrogallonism.” Serge has had several solo exhibitions and been in group shows internationally, quickly gaining attention from the Western World.
Serge has had recent installations at the Facebook Headquarters in Los Angeles and at the Vesfossen Kunstlaboratorium in Norway which was featured on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar Art. From July to October, Serge was part of Stormy Weather, an exhibition on climate change and social justice at the Arnhem Museum in the Netherlands, where his work is now a part of the museum’s permanent collection.
A large part of his practice is performance. The GoLokal art collective that he founded continues to grow and his performance continues to spark conversations around gender roles, sustainability, and other issues in society. He is currently exhibiting at Lorenzelli art in Milan. Serge’s pieces range from $5,000 to $35,000 which is a far cry from the paintings he sold at the start of his career simply to fund his other projects. His work can be found at various galleries internationally, and Gallery1957 in Accra.
An artist’s muse can come from a wide array of interesting sources and for Ghanaian artist Ato Delaquis, his inspiration comes from the horses he saw during his childhood in Cape Coast, Ghana. Today, Delaquis is well known for his paintings of horsemen of the Sahel, as well as urban landscapes, from marketplaces and transport stations to cityscapes. He creates his pieces using printmaking, watercolor, and etchings. Over his four-decade-long career, he has been awarded several prizes including the Bronze Medal for the International Graphic Art Exhibition in Leipzig, Warsaw (1966) and the National Art Exhibitions Award in Ghana (1968 & 1970).
He has exhibited internationally, and his pieces can be found in collections in Europe, Australia, and the Americas. Delaquis has sold at Bonhams auctions several times with his prices ranging from $2,200 to $25,700 depending on their size and medium. With his steady track record of performing well at auction internationally, Ato Delaquis is an artist whose work retains value and is worth investing in. His work can be found at Berj Art Gallery.
The “contemporary traditionalist” is what renowned painter Larry Otoo refers to himself as. The everyday mundane activities of the average Ghanaian are what inspire his compositions. He paints his abstract creations in oils and acrylic to visually preserve Ghana’s traditions.
Otoo’s vibrant colorful pieces have been exhibited in solo and group shows around the world including Accra, Indianapolis, Munich, Lagos, London, the Noguchi Memorial Institute in Tokyo, and Ghana’s Washington Chancery in Washington D.C. having garnered an international following. Otoo’s pieces range from $1000 to $10,000 depending on the size and medium and can be found at Artists Alliance Gallery, Accra and Out of Africa Gallery, Spain.
British-Ghanaian mixed-media artist Godfried Donkor has had a long-standing fascination with historical boxers. He explores the entangled history of boxing and the slave trade, often combining mythology and historical fact in his work. He paints them in heroic poses, removed from the boxing arena, often painting gold haloes around their heads, almost deifying them. His work is included in International Collections such as the Smithsonian Museum of African Art, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, National Collection of Senegal and the Spanish Sports Council Collection.
He has had solo and group shows such as David Adjaye: Making Memory, Design Museum, London (2019), Battle Royale: Last Man Standing, Gallery1957, Accra, 1-54 London, 2019, UNTITLED Art Miami Beach, 2019, and EVA International Ireland’s Biennial, Limerick (2016), among others. His pieces are available for prices ranging between $2,500 and $10,500 depending on the size and medium and can be found at Gallery1957. Donkor continues to garner the attention of collectors and institutions worldwide.
Ablade Glover is regarded as one of Ghana’s most celebrated artists. He trained in Ghana, London, and the United States, accumulating a variety of awards that demonstrate his importance on the national and international art scene. His work is a realistic abstraction and often features cityscapes, busy markets, urban landscapes, and shantytowns. His layered oil paintings vibrate with vivid color and effervescent energy; they beckon the viewer closer to see the individual figures hidden within his impasto painted canvases.
He is based in Accra, where he works mainly at Artists Alliance, the gallery that he opened to support upcoming artists. This year his exhibition ‘Wogbe Jeke, We Have Come A Long Way, at October Gallery in London in celebration of his 85th Birthday and one titled Ablade Glover: The Last 20 Years and Beyond at Gallery1957. His work is priced between $1,500 and $35,000 and can be found at several galleries including Artists Alliance and October Gallery, London, and is also in several international collections. Glover continues to do well at auction internationally and remains a household favourite.
AMAF aims to equip the current and future generations of collectors with the data, insight and convenience to collect African Art as an alternative investment. Through our online platform we reduce the frictions associated with buying and selling art, providing collectors with investing and trading art capability.
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