Serge Attukwei Clottey Ghana, b. 1985

Living and working in Los Angeles, USA and Accra, Ghana, Serge Attukwei Clottey (b. 1985) interrogates the vibrant symbolic life of everyday material objects. Clottey’s creative practice spans installation, performance, photography and sculpture, all devoted to exploring the ideological and psychic meanings that are invested in quotidian objects and how such materials circulate in local and global economies.

A project spanning several decades is his use of yellow gallon containers to build large-scale sculptures. Titling this oeuvre “Afrogallonism,” Clottey repurposes the canisters that transport cooking oil from the west to Ghana only to end up as plastic waste, cutting and stitching these found objects into tapestry-like installations that comment on the movement of materials from the west to Africa, and the possibility of reversing these flows through creative reimagination. Other works arrange found objects like jute sacks, car tires, and wood pieces into abstract assemblages that illustrate Ghana’s informal economies of trade and re-use. His work ventures into poignantly personal territory as well, as exemplified by My Mother’s Wardrobe, which was inspired by the death of his mother. This performance project, presented at Gallery 1957, paid homage to women as caretakers of cloth, and by extension historical memory. Touching on cultural conceptions of gender, kinship, family, and spirituality, this project examined the contours of everyday life as a gendered performance. Continuing this theme, a recent body of work named Beyond Skin considers questions of image-making, representation, and identification through paintings inspired by mid-century black and white photography originating from the coast of West Africa. Playing with conventions of who makes images of West Africans and for whom, Clottey transforms the vernacular of visual representation to gesture to more dynamic forms of African self-representation, particularly with regard to gender and sexual self-expression. Symbolism features centrally across his practice, ranging from sculptural references to textile traditions such as Kente (a key source of inspiration for African Modernism) to signs such as barcodes and Mandarin characters, which index emerging power structures on the African continent.

Clottey studied at the Ghanatta College of Art and Design, Accra and the Escola Guignard, Belo Horizonte in Brazil, and received an Honorary Doctorate of Art from the University of Brighton in 2019. His prolific career has led to numerous solo exhibitions in Ghana, UAE, USA, UK, Italy, Germany, Norway, and Switzerland, while group exhibitions have featured his work similarly across the globe. Clottey has exhibited at fairs such as 1:54 New York and Miami Art Week in the US, 1:54 London and Brighton Festival in the UK, and the Dakar Biennale in Senegal. He has been awarded residencies at DAAD Berlin in Germany, Royal Museums Greenwich in the UK, and the Centre for Contemporary Art in Japan, as well as scholarships from the Dutch Ministry of Culture and Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Clottey’s work resides in several public collections, including the The World Bank Collection and Tucson Museum of Art in the US, the Museum of African Contemporary Art in Morocco, and the Kunstmuseum Arnhem in the Netherlands.

Art Fairs
Memories are Sweet, 2017