Annan Affotey - The Journey: London

12 Oct - 1 Dec 2022

Gallery 1957 is pleased to present The Journey, a new solo exhibition by Oxford-based Ghanaian artist Annan Affotey (b. 1985, Ghana), running October 12th - December 1st, 2022, at the gallery's UK location.

Following on from the artist's debut solo show Ghanatta Strong in Accra last year, this seminal exhibition expands upon Affotey's love of portraiture painting by looking back to past techniques that have made him into the artist he is today. This new, ambitious body of work figures itself as a kind of self-portrait, or early retrospective, bringing together creative practices and distinct people contributing to Affotey's journey as an artist, father, and storyteller. From found family to social media muses, the figures populating Affotey's canvases take us on a Journey through living rooms and lyrical landscapes, welcoming spaces with a touch of the uncanny. The Journey deftly employs the Ghanaian ideology of 'Sankofa' - looking back to move forward - by collecting past skill sets, characters, and settings to create new worlds that are at once profoundly personal yet belong to all. "My journey has had many chapters," the artist reflects, "All of which have shaped who I am today. All people face a journey no matter who they are. This new body of work celebrates the people, past and present, who are part of my journey and who have shaped my artistry."
Whilst Affotey practiced art from a young age, he came to a particularly productive creative crossroads at the Ghanatta College of Art and Design in Accra, the recently closed and beloved art school where many illustrious Ghanaian artists have hailed from. This creative community provides a strong source of kinship and inspiration for the artist, who remains close to many of his influential peers alongside supporting emerging artists embarking upon their professional artistic journeys. In addition to the family Affotey established during his time at Ghanatta, a robust and comprehensive training profoundly informs his evolving visual vernacular.
Affotey's portraits call out to you with profound familiarity. There are four key elements that comprise his signature style: a cool, teal-tinted black skin tone; tenderly applied textures of modelling paste with a palette knife and personal comb; penetrating, saturated eyes ranging from light pink to deep red; and a white, unpainted element. Affotey always starts and finishes a painting with the eyes, their distinctive hues harking back to the artist's experience of having his identity and lifestyle misinterpreted when moving to the States - a legacy of looking different. Whilst these penetrating orbs serve as tools that invite viewers to engage deeply with his subjects, it is ultimately the unfinished elements of his works, the voids, through which Affotey asks us a question, enabling us to be a part of and complete the painting. 
Text by Curator Katherine Finerty
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