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Foster Sakyiamah: Lines Through Time | ADA Accra

November 17–January 15, 2023 | Accra, Ghana

Sakyiamah’s paintings are praised for their vivid depictions of the people and culture of Ghana. They are instantly recognizable for their vibrant colour palettes and predominance of curved linear patterns. Sakyiamah’s fascination with the work of Malian photographer Malick Sidibé and Ghanaian-British photographer James Barnor, who frequently dressed his subjects in patterned clothing and positioned them against highly patterned backdrops and floors, led to his fondness for patterns.

In Akosua As Desire [2022] for example, the stunning composition indicative of Gaugin’s The Seed of the Areoi captures a scintillating figure of a Ghanaian girl whose black body is passionately depicted by Sakyiamah in monochromatic red skin seated in the nude. Holding what appears to be a mango, the protagonist is placed on a table covered with cloth as though to be served to the viewer with a basket of succulent fruit in the foreground as blue contrasting mountainous flora lingers in the background. In this sense, the strong sense of tones and vibrancy hues become sensory metaphors for independence, nurture, and femineity within his acrylic paintings.

Untitled, 1983. acrylic and Oilstick on canvas, (244 by 191 cm.) By Jean-Michel Basquiat | Courtesy of Sothebys

My constant intrigue around capturing women stems from being brought up in a strong matrilineal environment and being raised by a strong matriarch – I feel this is translated in my work.. – Sakyiamah

In earlier years, he was originally exhibiting his works in a local kiosk in 2002 after his tenure at Ghanatta, the artist joined the esteemed Noldor Residency Program as an artist-in-residence in 2021 after the institution’s Selection Committee conducted a studio visit in late 2020. He has since had major international exhibitions in New York and Switzerland, and subsequently, his work is now found in several institutional and private collections in Europe, including the Se Tinat Collection in Spain, Minotti Seoul Collection in Seoul and the Sir David Adjaye Private Collection in Accra and London. The complicated, whirling paintings that makeup Foster’s collection of work are often grounded by a single colour with a variation in execution. The Ghanaian artist uses reds, blues, and modest women in wide-brimmed hats and thin lace gloves, as well as dancers performing in coordinated synchrony. The figures emerge through fields of pulsing, coiled lines that give the dynamic pieces character and vitality.

Installation shot of Lines Through Time exhibition | Courtesy of ADA Accra

They are dressed in apparel that fades into the background. But as we study Sakyiamah in the studio we also see that his work ethnocentrically grounded print references to GTP, Ghana’s first indigenous textile branch launched in 1966 by Ghana’s first president – Dr Kwame Nkrumah. Embraced by many Ghanaian women [diaspora and local alike] in all walks of modern ‘Afropolitan’ society, the allusions to Ghana Textile Print truly make Sakyiamah’s body of work both international and local compositions completely relatable. Ultimately whether it’s depicting Ghanaian women doing nothing elegantly in repose or purposefully presented within the context of high society, we find that Sakyiamah’s work truly celebrates and seeks to uplift women within the lens of what he describes as “empowering objectification”. We continue to see him achieve this in his uplifting aesthetic interpretation defined by signature motifs and texture –with the distinct bold lines that continue to inform his riveting practice.

Source: ADA Accra

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