‘Global’ art? New series of films about contemporary art, ‘The Black Stars of Ghana – Art District’

The Black Stars of GHANA - Art District
aquotesSHOWCASE and Bureau Africa have just released their newest production, a series of film interviews with Ghanaian contemporary visual artists. The video project is now internationally launched under the title The Black Stars of Ghana – Art District and comprises a series of documented conversations with a group of leading and upcoming contemporary visual artists in Ghana including Prof. Ablade Glover, Kofi Setordji, Wiz Kudowor, Marigold Akufo-Addo, Larry Otoo, Gabriel Eklou, Samuel Kane Kwei, Kwadwo Ani, Kobina Nyarko, Ndugu, Alfred Mensah and others. The series uses the internet to introduce the representatives of contemporary Ghanaian art to a global audience,  presenting and recounting their story from an African perspective. The advantage of the internet is the global accessibility. Now art professionals, scholars and practitioners as well as art lovers from all over the world have a chance to get to know the different artists and protagonists of the Ghanaian contemporary art scene just by visiting the respective website at their convenience 24/7. All episodes of “The Black Stars of Ghana – Art District” will simultaneously be broadcast on This Is Africa and on Bureau Africa TV’s Youtube Channel.

This interview project is part of Showcase’s initiative to feature exciting contemporary art from regions of the world which are too often disregarded when Eurocentric art professionals are debating and deciding among themselves about who is who in the art world and claim and believe that their debate is equivalent to the global discourse on art. As a result of the Eurocentric dominance in setting the standards and defining the criteria of what kind of contemporary art is considered as relevant, relatively little real attention is given to artists from regions of the world that are not located in Europe or Northern America. Where is Africa on this “global” stage? Where are Latin America and Southern Asia? In order to contribute to a change in this imbalance in the composition of what is called the “international art scene” the Berlin-based production and curatorial research and production platform SHOWCASE together with their colleagues and partners from Bureau Africa is launching online “The Black Stars of Ghana – Art District”, a series of videos that aim to let viewers experience the depth, vibrancy, beauty, vision and diversity of contemporary art produced on the African continent. 

Black Star Square Accra, Ghana

Black Star Square Accra, Ghana

In an interview with “This Is Africa” film-maker Safia Dickersbach, from Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, explained the reasons for choosing Ghana as the first country on SHOWCASE’s tour through the African countries: 
“Contemporary art in Ghana rests upon a rich history of artistic tradition reaching back hundreds of years into the past. The classical art tradition of the Ghanaian historic kingdoms of the Ashanti (who are a part of the Akan people), the Ewe and other tribes still influences modern artistic expression without preventing today’s artists from exploring both established and uniquely personal styles of contemporary art production. Ancient symbols like the Adinkra symbols and special crafts like the Kente weaving tradition and the making of glass beads or the carving of wood still exert a strong influence on the design and aesthetics of the contemporary art and culture in Ghana. By making use of this rich ancestral heritage on the one hand, while creating art in an independent personal style on the other, present-day Ghanaian art has established a regional reputation that goes far beyond its home country and has moved the contemporary artists in Ghana out of the shadow of the global art scene.”
(From The Black Stars of Ghana, a new series of video conversations with Ghana’s leading contemporary visual artists. http://bit.ly/16ejiHb)

In a first season each episode will present a different contemporary visual artist from Ghana, the first stop on a tour across the African continent. A new episode will be broadcast online every Monday.

_1BSG_WizKudoworThe season started on Monday, August 19th, 2013, with the episode about Wiz Kudowor. While drawing upon the rich heritage of artistic tradition and cultural symbols in Ghana’s history, Wiz Kudowor developed his uniquely personal style of artistic expression with reminiscence of Cubist and Futurist shapes and designs.

_1BSG_AbladeGlover2nd: On Monday, August 26th, 2013, the 2nd episode about Prof. Ablade Glover was put on-line. Ablade Glover combines a decades-long teaching career in art education culminating in the position of Dean of the College of Art and Head of the Department of Art Education at the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi with an even more successful career as a visual artist which turned him today into a kind of elder statesman for the contemporary Ghanaian art scene.

_1BSG_GabrielEklouEpisode 3 featuring Gabriel Eklou has also been broadcast. Gabriel Eklou worked as a qualified accountant before finding personal and professional fulfilment as a full-time painter. Gabriel Eklou’s trademark are slim and stretched tall imaginary figures with very long legs walking majestically and proud through an African landscape. He describes the African continent as the “beginning and the base” of his artistic work.

_1BSG_KobinaNyarkoEpisode 4, features Kobina Nyarko, who has become well-known for his paintings depicting countless tiny fishes on large-scale canvasses. Kobina Nyarko, who belongs to a 3rd generation of post-independence Ghanaian artists, organizes these numerous colourful fishes so that they form compositions reminiscent of abstract expressionism.

_1BSG_MarigoldAkufo-Addo On Monday, September 16th, 2013, Episode 5 with Marigold Akufo-Addo was put online. Marigold Akufo-Addo, who is probably the best-known female contemporary painter in Ghana, is widely known for her specific painting technique of tiny squares, each measuring no more than a tenth of an inch. Those minuscule square boxes form the structural basis of her paintings which deconstruct different art forms, textures and hues from the West African region and reposition and recombine those traditional influences in fluid forms of dialogue with modern styles of artistic expression. 
Episode 6 features Kwadwo Ani, who is known for showing people with big eyes in situations of urban and street life or social interaction addressing issues of injustice, social inequalities and human behaviour in a way which follows the idea of portraying the world around him through the big, wide open eyes of a child. His unique painting style reminiscent of naive art or naive painting contrasts problems of contemporary society with the honesty and sincerity of a childlike observer.

On Monday, September 30th, 2013, Episode 7 featuring Larry Otoo was launched. Larry Otoo, who once labelled himself a “contemporary traditionalist”, uses paintings to document contemporary social life in a West African environment and visualizes the conditio humana as he sees it in everyday Ghanaian life. Described as a “social commentator” rather than a political artist, Larry Otoo combines and alternates between realistic, expressionist or abstract styles in his colourful works that create their visual effect not only by a carefully balanced, yet powerful colouration, but also through their contextual rhythm and surface texture.

_1BSG_KofiSetordjiEpisode 8 presents Kofi Setordji who is Ghana’s foremost contemporary sculptor. Perhaps his  best-known work is “Genocide,” a multi- dimensional installation that he created in memory of the countless anonymous victims of the genocide in Rwanda and as a monument reminding us of the ever-repeating circle of similar atrocities around the world. Kofi Setordji works with different materials like wood, metal, bronze, stone, terracotta and paint to create sculptures commenting on historical, social and political issues. Kofi Setordji founded and runs Arthaus, a global residency for practising artists who temporarily stay and work in this building in the outskirts of Accra, and he is a member of the board of the Nubuke Foundation which promotes Ghanaian art, culture and heritage .
Watch for updates to the series as they are uploaded.

Bureau Africa & SHOWCASE  //  Contact: Eda Aden <showcase@showcaseint.com>  //  Website:  http://www.showcaseint.com/
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/pages/SHOWCASE/203245376412487

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1 reply

  1. This project looks amazing. Are there plans to do the same in other African countries?

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