Afia Prempeh Ghanaian, b. 1986


Afia Prempeh (b. 1986 Kumasi, Ghana) is a genre-bending painter whose practice uses aesthetic traditions as a means of hacking them. Her background in still-life and landscape painting informs her interdisciplinary approach to portraiture. 

A slow-process and detail-oriented perfectionist, Prempeh spent years avoiding the human figure. When she graduated from art school and began supporting herself from commissions, she found that she could not escape requests for portraits. The artist chose to face her fears—while giving her clients more than what they asked for. She would bring in multiple compositional strategies, and she would use her subjects’ stories to explore narrative. 

The residency with Gallery 1957 marks the first time Prempeh has had the luxury to develop a solo body of work. Her ongoing struggle to balance her independent interests with market demands thus takes a different shape.


Prempeh’s urge for independent practice was nursed during her time in the Kumasi College of Art. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Painting from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (K.N.U.S.T.) in 2009, just as the Department’s cross-genre curricular adjustments were intensifying. Having caught the early drifts of these conceptual currents, Prempeh could be considered among a crop of seedlings from the Kumasi Contemporary’s ‘disorderly garden’. Her practice continues to sprawl across Kumasi, Accra, and their imaginative extensions.

Prempeh’s works have been exhibited in all three end-of-year exhibitions held by blaxTARLINES KUMASI, K.N.U.S.T., with the Ghana Museum and Monuments Board in Accra (‘the Gown must go to Town’, 2015; ‘Cornfields in Accra’, 2016; and ‘Orderly Disorderly’, 2017). Her paintings thus far are held in collections of Reverends, Presidents, Friends, and Fathers. Her most precious creations, she has kept for herself.

Art Fairs
Kwaku and Osei Tutu Prempeh, 2021