Emmanuel Adiamah - Downtrodden Bits of Reality: Accra, Gallery I
Gallery 1957, Accra, is proud to present “Downtrodden Bits of Reality” a solo exhibition of artist Emmanuel Adiamah, running from 22nd July - 20th August, 2022.
Adiamah has a penchant for using foreign-matter or found-objects with pigment. Collage is the proper term. He has a wide repertoire of materials for his collages - leaves, straw, husk, sand, stones, leather, fabric and any other material that would adhere to the surface of whatever support he uses. Adiamah’s collage has evolved into a highly sophisticated level whereby from certain distances an observer finds it hard to distinguish non-paint material from pigment. This duality of interaction between paint and found-objects play tricks with the human retina so that sometimes an observer is forced to touch a surface of Adiamah’s art to re-orientate what he sees as content. This ‘magic’ is actually enjoyable to the senses in regard to recognition of objects familiar to an observer. This is where the power of Adiamah’s art comes to the fore.
In his paintings, Adiamah captures essential elements of local Ghana. His focus lies on the individuals whose collective vibrations make the local hubs and trade-centres the culture powerhouses they have become famed for. In his latest exhibition he gives the viewer a fascinating insight into unadulterated Ghanaian market culture through his full realm of remarkable genius and captivating imagery.
Famous for the intricate detail, passionate expressions, and immersive experiences employed in his art, Adiamah’s works provide an introspective assessment of typical market life. From vivid representations of the lone preacher singing over the microphone, to the ‘kaya ye’ who idly wanders with her empty basin, his pieces are an all-inclusive memoir of life underneath the canopy of tattered umbrellas and creaky wooden stalls.
Adiamah’s most desired images are renderings of the women who dominate the market populace. Through his visual biopics, he pays homage to them for their toil, struggle and sacrifice. He paints the picture of them seated behind their unstable stalls of recycled crates and plastic buckets, arranging and rearranging their wares in an attempt to exhibit the freshest and most attractive. His inclusion of the raffia sun hats and loosely tied head wraps goes further to describe their strive at evading the sun that shines unforgivingly on their fast-wilting fresh produce. From Emmanuel’s works, it is easy to appreciate the hardiness, diligence and strength of the market women.
The locale is highly saturated with such culture and vibrancy that in many places, markets have become listed sites of historic and architectural significance and are often popular tourist destinations. However, in the eyes of Adiamah’s subjects, the market remains a haven- a community where sisterhoods are formed, families are raised, and where life goes on.
About the Artist
Emmanuel Adiamah was born in Ghana in 1957, the year of the country’s independence. He is a post-war contemporary artist whose work has, through the years, gained local and international recognition. He studied at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, and graduated in 1985. He then taught art till 1993 in Takoradi after which he returned to Kumasi for a Master’s degree in Art Education between 1993 and 1996. Although he’s currently not actively teaching, he regularly organizes talks in his studio for students from Senior high school to the Tertiary at the College or University level. Adiamah currently lives and works in Accra, Ghana.
His art has been exhibited in major museums around the world, and can be found in some of the most prestigious public and private collections worldwide. Still Hoping (2000), Our Way of Life (2000), Negotiation (2001) and Divided Attention are just a few of Emmanuel’s artworks that have been offered at major auction houses and galleries around the world, with realized prices depending on the size and medium of the artwork. A few of his works has been at auction house, including Divided Attention, sold at Bonhams New Bond Street in 2018.