Gideon Appah draws on childhood memories and dreams, as well as West African landscapes and popular culture for his dazzling, bold, and jewel-toned paintings. As a child, Appah’s first medium was charcoal, which his grandmother used to cook meals at home. His early works are an ode to his hometown of Accra, the capital of Ghana, and incorporate images associated with daily life such as lottery numbers and other symbols present in the social and economic fabric of the city. Appah’s work investigates his childhood as well as local mythologies, ethereal landscapes, rivers, domestic interiors, and recurring figures both imagined and known, such as his grandmother and brother. 

The artist often paints in tones of royal blue, crimson, dark orange, and white over found and collaged posters, prints, photographs, and film stills, many of these centering on occupations his family members have held within their community such as barber and tailor shops. Mixing photographic images with paint, Appah employs a process of priming the canvas and sketching the composition before transferring prints from paper onto the canvas using a mixture of glue and water. After the canvas dries, he carves out the images, making them visible before applying paint. Most recently, the artist has utilised oil paint, working in a more flattened perspective and using a rich palette to condense impasto brushstrokes. Appah creates dream-like worlds through a fauvist lens, examining personal and homeland histories such as Ghanaian postcolonial cinema, leisure culture, and nightlife, using newspaper clippings from the 1950s through the 80s as source material. He is influenced by portraiture artists such as Kerry James Marshall, Barkley L. Hendricks, Charles White, as well as American painters Bob Thompson and Joseph Yoakum.


Gideon Appah received his Bachelor of Fine Arts at The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana in 2012. In 2015, he was chosen as one of the top ten finalists for the Kuenyehia Art Prize for Contemporary Ghanaian Arts. That same year he became the first international artist to win the 1st Merit Prize Award at the Barclays L’Atelier Art Competition, which was held in Johannesburg. This awarded him a three-month artist residency at the Bag Factory Studios and a solo show at the Absa Gallery, both in Johannesburg, South Africa. Solo exhibitions include How to Say Sorry in a Thousand Lights, Pace Gallery, London, UK (2023); More Luck, Mitchell Innes and Nash, New York, NY, USA (2022); Gideon Appah: Forgotten, Nudes, Landscapes, Institute for Contemporary Art at University of Commonwealth Virginia, Richmond, USA (2022); Blue Boys Blues, Mitchell Innis & Nash, New York, USA (2020); Love Letters, Gallery 1957, Accra, Ghana (2019); In Pokua's Place, Nubuke Foundation, Accra, Ghana (2017); Between a life and its dream, ABSA Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa (2017) and Sensation, Goethe Institute, Accra, Ghana (2023). Group exhibitions span Ghana, South Africa, New York, London, Mexico and Germany. His work is held in public collections worldwide including Absa Museum, Johannesburg; Musée d'Art Contemporain Africain Al Maaden, Marrakesh, Morocco; and Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada.

Art Fairs
Blue River, 2020