Homecoming: The Aesthetic of the Cool

26 Mar - 9 May 2021
Overview

Amoako Boafo, Kwesi Botchway, and Otis Quaicoe

In celebration of its 5th anniversary, Gallery 1957, proudly presents the contributions of Ghana's compelling voices in contemporary art. Homecoming: The Aesthetic of the Cool, showcases new work of Amoako Boafo, Kwesi Botchway, and Otis Quaicoe, for the first time in a group presentation, and most appropriately, in the birthplace of the artists, Accra Ghana.

Three young artists masterfully create new visions of what it means to be Black, African, and a contemporary artist in the 21st century. Boafo stands as the poetic innovator and critical groundbreaker, trailblazing for the entry of his young contemporaries: Otis Quaicoe, the elegant visionary and quotidian storyteller, and Kwesi Botchway, the romantic illusionist and regal myth maker. All three artists were born and raised in Ghana, all educated at Ghanatta College of Art and Design in Accra, and all are ascending with unparalleled critical and commercial success at a record-breaking pace.

Using elements of classic canonical portraiture that depend on the outward gaze and facial expressions of the subject to promote a sense of inner narrative that viewers are privileged to spectate externally. The subjects are elegant and fashionable with sinuous bodies making strong poses emphasizing the confrontational gaze of the subject. This is also accomplished by the void like backgrounds each artist uses that strongly centralizes the subject without visual distractions. There is a sense of refined repose emoting from their compositions echoing elements of what renowned scholar Robert Faris Thompson calls "the aesthetic of the cool". Through various essays in a book of the same name, Thompson explains that the concept of the "cool" seen in Hollywood and fashion magazines comes from the artistic, religious, and ritualistic production of West Africa, fused with the nonchalant, sophisticated bodily gestures and facial expressions found in West African societal culture.

Words by Danny Dunson.

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