In Lagos, Ghanaian artists show their creativity in ‘New Threads’

Organic Woman by Kofi Agorsor

The works of seven leading and emerging contemporary artists from Ghana themed “New Threads” will be showcased in an exhibition at Temple Muse in Lagos.

Sixty nine unique paintings on canvas and jute, sculptures and photographs created by Kofi Setordji, Kofi Agorsor, Nii Obodai, Nicholas Kowalski, Constance Swaniker, Nyornuwofia Agorsor and Nana Anoff will feature in the month-long exhibition which begins October 10.

“This is to showcase what our neighbours are doing and how really they are interpreting modern contemporary issues in a very refreshing and exciting way,” said Sandra Mbanefo-Obiago, the exhibition’s curator.

“New Threads” is premised on a modern fabric of creativity woven within the context of an ancient loom of rich artistic ancestry, but presented in contemporary colors and expressions that address current global issues, according to the organizers.

A recurring theme in the exhibition is the interwoven renewal of universal symbols through expressions of modernity. The artworks address frontline issues such as migration, environment, emancipation of the girl child, leadership and democracy.

In addition to documenting the recent Black Lives Matter movement in the US, Setordji has also created works which reflected on the genocide in Rwanda.

“Setordji’s abstract sculptures and paintings add color and political gravitas to our African narrative,” said Mrs. Mbanefo-Obiago, who described Setordji as “the grandmaster of contemporary expression in Ghana”.

Kofi Agorsor and his wife, Nyornuwofia, are both visual artists as well as musicians. While Kofi’s inspiration is deeply rooted in the traditional culture, rituals and beliefs of Ghana, Nyornuwofia signature naive style focus on education as a basic human right.

Nicholas Kowalski’ geometric paintings revolve around imagery of the Baobab, the African tree of life, which is an important symbol of life, power, and resilience in a northern savannah landscape. He depicts landscapes and human imagery with geometric precision interspersed with intricately fragmented patterns often found in the popular Ankara fabrics worn across the region.

His works also celebrate the rich history of the Adinkra symbols which draw on the universal proverbs and philosophy of African culture.

New Threads also presents contemporary expressions through sculpture with Nana Anoff’s works created out of re-purposed, recycled metal objects and machine parts. His two dimensional metal sculptures depict scenes of migration on foot, on bike and on the quintessential “keke-na- pep” three wheeled scooters, so often found winding through the streets of West Africa. These repurposed metal works are complemented by Constance Swaniker’s metal sculptures, including the life-size pretty wings, which shows an enfolding female form in the process of morphing into an “African avatar” complete with Ankara adorned wings, reflecting her views on feminism and emancipation, which are deeply rooted in her social activism.

In Nii Obodai’s poignant ‘Who Knows Tomorrow’ series is a powerful photographic essay of his travels across Ghana in search of a fresh understanding of independence and the legacy of Kwame Nkrumah’s vision. His wide open landscapes with blurred human forms cycling across or children running across a vast beach or caught playing in rivers alongside lush mangroves perfectly mirrored in coastal waters will give most West African art enthusiasts a strong sense of commonality and feelings of ‘deja’vu’.

“We need to move beyond buying art from other parts of Africa at international auctions in London or at global art fairs,” said Mrs. Mbanefo-Obiago.

“We need to stretch out a hand of creative friendship across our porous borders and create more opportunities for showcasing cutting edge contemporary African expressions in each others’ countries.”

Kabir Wadhwani, Temple Muse Director, said the exhibition would be the centre’s second international group show for the year.

“We are delighted to be hosting some of Ghana’s finest contemporary artists,” said Mr. Wadhwani.

“We are delighted to be broadening the artistic offering and conversation in Nigeria.”

The exhibition runs until November 17th and is sponsored by UBS, the Swiss global bank, and Moet-Hennessey.


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