Renowned Ghanaian painter Amoako Boafo brings his exhibition titled “Soul of Black Folks” — a nod to the W.E.B. Du Bois book of the same name —to the Denver Art Museum, Colorado, in the United States, Thursday, Oct 5.
Christoph Heinrich, Director, Denver Art Museum reflected on the project’s path to Denver with satisfaction. “It only took us a few moments to make a decision,” Heinrich said of when the museum was approached with an offer to present the traveling exhibition containing more than 30 works encompassing years of portraiture from Boafo.
“This is a show we really want to show; he’s truly one of these cosmopolitan, emerging artists with very deep roots in his country of origin, Ghana,” Heinrich said.
Boafo has become well-known in part for his use of his own fingers to paint his portraiture subjects, including himself in an expansive series of self portraits now on display on the first floor of DAM’s Hamilton Building.
Born in Ghana in 1984, after the death of his father, Boafo lived with his mother, who worked as a cook. He spent his free time painting and supported himself as a semi-professional tennis player, until an employer of his mother offered to pay his university fees.
In 2008, Boafo graduated from Ghanatta College of Art and Design in Accra, where he also won the award for best painter of the year. In 2017, he received another award, the Walter Koschatzky Art Award for an artist under 35.
Boafo seeks to explore what it means to be black, the meaning of joy and more in his series of more than 30 portraits spanning six years now on display in the Denver Art Museum’s Hamilton Building. Courtesy: Denver Art Museum
Boafo “paints with tenderness and care… directly touching the canvas to render the likeness of his friends, acquaintances and those he admires from the broader, global black diaspora,” DAM curator Rory Padeken said.
“I had a lot of control with a brush,” Boafo said. “I wanted to move away from control because it restricts me from certain things that I want to experiment on… It allows me to be as free as possible, it gives me a different way of thinking about making imagery.”
Exhibit curator Larry Ossei-Mensah — who previously worked to bring the works to Houston, Seattle and San Francisco — hopes the paintings provoke some thought.
“[Amoako and I] want you to think about the humanity of black people. Think about the humanity that we all encompass and sometimes forget in the hustle and bustle of our daily life. Think about joy. ‘What does joy mean to you?’ What does it mean to express yourself, your full self?” Ossei-Mensah said.
The portraits, spanning six years of Boafo’s painting career, show: “him evolve not only as an artist, but as a man, as a black man, as an African,” Ossei-Mensah, who is also of Ghanaian descent, said. The exhibit is on display until Feb. 19, 2024.
Source: The Denver Gazette