Afia Prempeh- We Could be...: Accra, Gallery III

19 Nov - 31 Dec 2021

Gallery 1957 is delighted to present the debut solo exhibition by Ghanaian artist Afia Prempeh. The project is the fruit of a 7-month-long residency with the Gallery at our studios in Accra, Ghana. 

The exhibition, ‘We Could Be…’, projects the real and imagined lives of a sampling of contemporary women, as told through tales in oil on canvas. Subjects’ personalities unfold through a multiplicity of material expressions, wherein artifacts and sceneries speak as vibrantly as the body or face. Prempeh’s training in landscape and still-life leads to her time-traveling lens on the traditional figure. Her paintings open portals into other worlds and forms. 

These worlds of Prempeh’s creation meld the ornate aesthetics of classical painting, with cultural vernacular from her immediate environment. Layered compositions bury stories within stories, whose contents both describe and undermine their bigger pictures. What appears to be one thing, could become a multitude of others.


In the artist’s words:

There’s something deeper about the paintings that even I myself can’t point out. It’s not just the physical—there’s some force behind it. My whole being, my whole soul, is in there. Every single detail is telling a story. 

My portraiture is not just portraiture. The object can also become the subject. I started off as a landscape and still-life artist, so when I finally learned to paint the human figure, I wanted to do it differently. Full-figure, classical style, with object and background details. And I wanted to make it about the person. I wanted it to tell a story.

This body of work has to do with transition. The subjects are on a journey. I, myself, am also on a journey. It’s a spiritual journey: searching… seeking… believing… I had to go through certain transformations; I had to discover certain things about myself to get here.


This exhibition opens on the 19th of November, 2021 in Gallery III Accra, Ghana and runs through 31 December, 2021.