At ease in Ghana, left, Vibrant hues are a mark of Ghanaian art.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Opera Gallery Dubai has unveiled its latest exhibition, Roots and Routes: From Ghana to Dubai (May 25 – June 9). It is aimed to be an immersive experience that transcends boundaries, inviting art enthusiasts and collectors to embark on an exploration of Ghanaian artistry.
The gallery hopes to embrace visitors in a tapestry of vibrant hues, pulsating with the essence of Ghana’s cultural heritage and diverse artistic expressions. Roots and Routes casts a luminous spotlight on a remarkable group of talented Ghanaian artists who have forged a powerful and recognisable pictorial language in the realm of contemporary art. The works of Aplerh-Doku Borlabi, Annan Affotey, Adjei Tawiah, Rufai Zakari, David Amoateng, Cornelius Annor, Lord Ohene Okyere-Bour, and Raphael Adjetey Adjei Mayne, grace the exhibition with their masterful creations, each telling a unique tale of their cultural roots and personal journeys.
Here joy intertwines with nostalgia and raw expression. With every stroke and colour choice, the artists paint a visual symphony that resonates with viewers. The exhibition showcases an eclectic array of stylistic techniques, where flat areas and vibrant colours coalesce, revealing the artists’ love for technical and pictorial experimentation. Each artwork stands as a testament to their authentic and original voices.
Adjei Tawiah’s works try to plumb the depths of human emotion, memory, and the ruptures that shape our lives. Through his evocative technique – perhaps aptly named Sponge Martial - Tawiah breathes life into his creations, drawing inspiration from the sponge purification ritual performed upon his mother’s passing. In his art, mourning, affliction, and eventual healing intertwine, evoking an introspective journey.
Aplerh-Doku Borlabi defies academic conventions, restoring the complexity and richness of black complexions in his portraits. Through the innovative use of coconut husks mixed with oil paint, he brings out infinite shades of brown, creating textured skin surfaces that exude vitality and a sense of genuineness.
Rufai Zakari’s work reflects his commitment to recycling waste as a medium of artistic expression. Through collected and repurposed discarded plastic waste found in the streets, he weaves intricate narratives of everyday life, joy, and humour. The art symbolises the reclaiming of control over one’s destiny and environment, serving as a testament to the resilience and transformative power of the human spirit.
Raphael Adjetey Adjei Mayne’s compositions harmoniously blend discovered fabrics from the streets of Accra with traditional mediums such as acrylic, charcoal, and chalk.Through the intentional fading of facial features, Mayne highlights the essence of attitude, allowing his characters to emerge as striking silhouettes against solid backgrounds or vibrant fabrics.
Cornelius Annor’s evocative group portraits unravel the tapestry of family narratives and childhood memories, encapsulating the essence of mundane moments. His art resonates with viewers, forging connections to their own family experiences, fostering a deep sense of shared nostalgia.
Lord Ohene Okyere-Bour’s creations reflect journeys, memories, routes, and migrations, offering meditation on African ancestry and the interconnectedness of humanity. His artworks serve as a reminder that everyone is an inheritor of a shared legacy, transcending borders and uniting in the rich tapestry of human experience.
The exhibition also features the works of David Kofi Amoateng and Annan Affotey, artists who boldly go beyond the confines of academic techniques. They integrate objects, tools, and symbols special to their environment, challenging societal norms and stimulating conversations. Their purpose is to make their compositions catalysts for change, urging viewers to reevaluate perceptions and embrace new perspectives in the ever-evolving world of contemporary art.
Sylvain Gaillard, Director of Opera Gallery, expresses heartfelt enthusiasm for the exhibition. He said that “Opera Gallery Dubai is honoured to present ‘Roots and Routes: From Ghana to Dubai’, a testament to the extraordinary talent and artistic prowess of Ghanaian artists. While our gallery has long been recognised for showcasing modern and contemporary artists from America, Europe, and Asia, the exceptional talent we have discovered from Ghana compelled us to share their inspiring works with our discerning audience.”
Roots and Routes: From Ghana to Dubai offers a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the enchanting world of Ghanaian artistry, where colours dance, emotions intertwine, and stories unfold with poetic grace. Collectors, art enthusiasts, cultural connoisseurs or the merely curious are invited to embark on an evocative journey in the gallery space and discover the incredible mark of Ghanaian art on the global stage.
Founded in 1994 with exhibition spaces in Singapore and Paris by French art dealer Gilles Dyan, the Opera Gallery Group is comprised of sixteen galleries worldwide with locations in London, Geneva, Monaco, Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore, Dubai, Beirut, Miami, New York, Aspen, and Madrid. Since its inception, the gallery has presented a programme of major modern and contemporary works by predominantly established artists, showcasing its expansive collection of works in dialogue with a contemporary visual language. Each gallery has an annual schedule of exhibitions and art fair presentations that promote a cross-cultural exchange of views of modern and contemporary creative visionaries.
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