Unlimited : Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast, Ghana
Gallery 1957 is pleased to present UNLIMITED, the first of its kind group exhibition of monumental, large-scale works of art in a 1,400-square-metre unfinished industrial space that has never been utilised before. The show is curated by Gallery 1957’s founding director, Marwan Zakhem, whose initial inspiration was the renowned section of Art Basel art fair. He invited each artist to elaborate the theme of being “without limits” to create unique site-specific works in strong dialogue with the space.
The exhibition’s uniqueness allows for a variety of leading artists from across the continent to tell their own story through different mediums and visual language such as painting, film, performance, installation, and sculpture. UNLIMITED is also a journey across the gallery's past, present and future by showcasing the gallery’s historical artists as well as its more recent and upcoming collaborations. Above all, a common thread unifying all exhibiting artists is their participation at a certain moment in time into the gallery's residency programme taking place in the very same building since the gallery’s launch.
Exhibiting artists include: Cornelius Annor, Gideon Appah, crazinisT artisT, Rita Mawuena Benissan, Amoako Boafo, Christine Boateng, Aplerh-Doku Borlabi, Kwesi Botchway, Joana Choumali, Serge Attukwei Clottey, Tiffanie Delune, Godfried Donkor, Salah Elmur, Isshaq Ismail, Tegene Kunbi, Sthenjwa Luthuli, Oliver Okolo, Jonathan Okoronkwo, Araba Opoku, Brother Owusu-Ankomah, Yaw Owusu, Boluwatife Oyediran, Johannes Phokela, Daniel Arnan Quarshie and Adjei Tawiah.
Using styles akin to abstract expressionism, realism, installation, and conceptualism, through their work these artists capture the world around them during a time of great change while grappling with themes related to African identity, climate change, post-colonialism, humanitarian, climate change and gender issues. Through their art, many of these artists aim to raise awareness of important socio-economic and humanitarian issues in Africa and globally, with a mission to raise awareness of crucial issues as well as reinstate ideas surrounding the African historical and contemporary narrative. Art for these artists is a way to depict their communities and countries at a given moment in time as well as offer new perspectives on Africa to a wider local and international viewer.
During a time when an explosion of African portraiture, predominantly from West African artists, has cultivated a celebration and renaissance regarding the African individual’s place in history and contemporary society, this exhibition departs from a pure focus on the individual to mix portraiture and realistic everyday life depictions by artists such as Oliver Okolo, Cornelius Annor and Amoako Boafo as well as mixed media renditions of the African individual by artists such as Adjei Tawiah and Aplerh-Doku Borlabi, with those working with more abstract expressionist and abstract figurative styles such as Isshaq Ismail and Araba Opoku. These are juxtaposed with mixed media works such as those of Yaw Owusu who places US pennies on canvases moulded to look like drapery. Carrying titles such as ‘Peculiar Realities’, ‘Excellence’, and ‘Unimaginable Hustle’, Owusu’s work comments on questions regarding economic and political independence in contemporary Ghana by creating sculptural installations that repurpose found objects like American pennies or Ghanaian Pesewa coins, transforming the value of otherwise worthless materials into objects of beauty.
national sport. Donkor’s oil and acrylic paintings of wrestlers are placed on top of old English newspapers—another way for the artist to comment on the socio-historical relationships of Africa and Europe. Serge Attukwei Clottey is also on show with one portrait from his Duct Tape Series, as he continuous to focus and experiment on materials and identity using the industrial material and textured cork base that implicate the artist’s connection to his hometown of Labadi, Accra in Ghana and the physical realities encountered.
Using cotton canvas, loose linen, and smaller pieces of paper, Tiffanie Delune creates multi-layered works that invite a dialogue between scale and subject matter. ‘In a divided world that feels deeply saturated, I seek to share an unfiltered, blended narrative in all its depth and authenticity’. Delune is free in her choice of materials, longing for textures, meaning, and a memory—acrylic, pastels, paper, glitter, threads, toilet paper, keys, bags, and dried flowers among them. Other highlights include the black and white symbol-laden works of Brother Owusu-Ankomah. The works on show, dating to 2003, reveal the artist’s exploration of the philosophical significance of movement, which may be understood, he says, through a range of possibilities, concluding in movement towards Ankomah’s ‘Microcron’—his symbol of ultimate possibility. His ideas correlate with different perspectives on motion as the central force of the cosmos—at the intersection of philosophy and physics—between and shared with Western, Asian, and African thought. Ankomah’s powerful symbolic works in acrylic on canvas attempt to show the unity of all cultures through philosophical ideas of motion. Also, on view in UNLIMITED is Jonathan Okoronkwo’s large-scale installation featuring the artist’s unique technique and aesthetic of painting dysfunctional car bodies and parts using used motor oil, decommissioned auto steel parts dissolved in nitric, sulphuric and hydrochloric acid. The installation was first shown at KNUST in Kumasi when the artist obtained his MFA. Recently graduating from the same prestigious Fine Art program is Daniel Arnan Quarshie showing charcoal drawings and collages on various supports and materials such as paper cards, boards, plywood, canvas and newspapers in varying scales. A project inspired by his family’s photo albums in relation to notions of loss and memory.