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Ghana to the world: Contemporary art scene boosted by international acclaim

Contemporary art from Ghana is seizing global attention. Here is your guide to seven dynamic contemporary Ghanaian artists that you should know.

Author Henrika Amoafo Mon 12th Oct 2020
Ablade Glover, Cockerell, 2012.

International art collectors are increasingly looking at contemporary African art as a vehicle for investment, with sales at international auctions tripling over the last two years. In order to keep up with this boom in interest from buyers, auction houses like Sotheby’s and Bonhams in London have increased the capacity in their modern and contemporary African art departments. These indicators bode well for future values of artwork by established Ghanaian artists, who are now experiencing growing recognition on the global scene.

Domestic art sales were boosted by Ghana’s recent economic expansion, which has been strong over the past decade, with real GDP growth estimated at 7.1% in 2019. The economy of this West African producer of cocoa, gold, and oil has meant Ghana is among the world’s fastest-growing economies in recent years, according to the IMF.

2019 was also a great year for Ghanaian artists. The nation had its first-ever appearance at the Venice Biennale which drew rave reviews, and the much-celebrated Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye was commissioned to transform a 17th-century castle into a world-class museum, mirroring the recent building of impressive art museums in Senegal and Nigeria, as the region invests in its cultural heritage.

“Sales of contemporary African art have tripled over the last two years at international auctions.”

Ghana’s profile has been boosted by the success of international art stars led by El Anatsui, Ibrahim Mahama and the London-born Ghanaian artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Mahama recently founded an artist-run project space, the Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art in the city of Tamale, less than an hour’s flight from Accra.

The Art Basel Miami Beach art fair at the end of 2019 also brought deserved international recognition for Ghana’s rising star Amoako Boafo. He sold all pieces offered on show, for prices ranging between $15,000 and $45,000 USD. His recent appointment as the inaugural artist in residence at the Rubell Museum in Miami has further increased his visibility as investors circle round.

 

 

GIDEON APPAH


Gideon Appah at his studio in Accra.

Gideon Appah’s captivating work – reminiscent of the late graffiti artist turned legendary painter, Jean-Michel Basquiat – continues to garner attention. He is a mixed-media artist whose narratives reflect the strong family bonds and religious activities that informed his childhood.

Appah uses acrylic on collaged layers of appropriated posters, prints, and photographs that reference his family history. He has exhibited in Paris, Johannesburg, New York, Hamburg, and Accra in various solo and group shows. In 2015, the young artist received 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.

Appah 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. But following the success of winning the Barclays L’Atelier award, his pieces went up in value, at first commanding $2000 and then growing to $2500 after a large exhibition in Accra, Ghana’s capital.

Gideon Appah’s work now ranges from $2500 to $15,000 depending on size and medium.

 

 

SERGE ATTUKWEI CLOTTEY

Serge Attukwei Clottey is a multimedia artist known for work that highlights the power of mundane objects. His pieces question the prevailing materialistic culture through the use of yellow gallon containers and movement, which acts as a commentary on consumerism. He calls this movement ‘Afrogallonism’. Mr. Clottey has enjoyed several solo exhibitions and has featured in group shows worldwide. The artist created installations at the Facebook Headquarters in Los Angeles, and the Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium in Norway, with the show featuring on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar magazine.

Serge Attukwei Clottey with tapestry pieceSerge Clottey with tapestry piece, 2019.

From July to October 2019, Clottey exhibited in Stormy Weather, an exhibition on climate change and social justice at Museum Arnhem in the Netherlands, where his work now forms 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 prominent issues in society. Clottey’s pieces range from $5000 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.

 

 

Ato Delaquis, OpenAir Market with Umbrellas
Ato Delaquis, Open Air Market with Umbrellas (2018)

ATO DELAQUIS

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.

“Delaquis’ work retains value and is worth investing in.”

Today, Delaquis is well known for his paintings of horsemen of the Sahel, and urban landscapes, from marketplaces and transport stations to cityscapes. He creates his pieces using printmaking, watercolour, and etchings. Over his four-decade-long career, he’s 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 and 1970).

Delaquis has repeatedly sold at Bonhams auctions with prices ranging from $2200 to $25,700 depending on their size and medium. His steady track record of performing well internationally means Ato Delaquis is an artist whose work retains value and is worth investing in.

 

 

Larry Otoo, Jazz Road Map
Larry Otoo, Jazz Road Map (2018)

LARRY OTOO

The ‘contemporary traditionalist’ is how renowned painter Larry Otoo refers to himself. The everyday mundane activities of the average Ghanaian are the inspirations for his compositions. He paints his abstract creations in oils and acrylic to visually preserve Ghana’s traditions. Otoo’s vibrant, colourful pieces have exhibited in solo and group shows around the world, including in Indianapolis, Munich, Lagos, London, the Noguchi Memorial Institute in Tokyo, and at Ghana’s Washington Chancery in Washington DC.

Otoo’s pieces range from $1000 to $10,000.

 

 

GODFRIED DONKOR

British-Ghanaian mixed-media artist Godfried Donkor has had a long-standing fascination with the country’s boxers, not only with Accra being a hotbed of African boxing, but also due to their cultural and iconic significance for many locals. He explores the entangled history of boxing and the slave trade, often combining mythology and historical fact in his work. He paints the boxers in heroic poses, removed from the boxing arena, often depicting gold halos around their heads in a move to visually deify them.

Godfried Donkor, Collosus (2019)

His work is included in numerous international collections such as the Smithsonian Museum of African Art, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the National Collection of Senegal, and the Spanish Sports Council Collection.

He has produced for solo and group shows including David Adjaye: Making Memory, Design Museum, London (2019), 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 $2500 and $10,500 and look set to increase.

 

 

ABLADE GLOVER

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 featuring cityscapes, busy markets, urban landscapes, and shantytowns. The layered oil paintings vibrate with vivid colour and effervescent energy, beckoning the viewer closer to see the individual figures hidden within his impasto-painted canvases.

He is based in Accra, undertaking most of his work at the gallery he opened to support upcoming artists. Last year the Ghanaian had several large exhibitions at home and abroad in London, chronicling his decades of work and celebrating his 85th birthday. Pieces can be secured between $1500 and $35,000 and they are part of numerous international collections. Glover continues to do well at auction internationally and remains a national favourite. His work forms part of the Turbare collection and is available on our platform.

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