Meet Thomas Alicoe Appiah, one of Ghana’s avant-garde artists

Thomas painting waterfalls on a wall for a young fan of his
His paintings are amazing and his artistry is exceptional because of the passion he puts into almost everything he does. One minute you will find him sketching something amazing on a piece of paper with a pen or pencil and the next he’s wearing a pair of paint stained jeans working or completing yet another of his masterpieces. The person in question here is Thomas Alicoe Kojo Appiah popularly called Kali by those of us who know him very well.


Thomas was born on the 18th of August in the year 1984 in Ghana’s port city of Tema. The ‘harbor city’ as Tema is often called has an inland port and was one of the first of its kind in Africa. Growing up in Tema, Thomas realized at a very early age of his growing up life that he had a great talent for sketching and coloring.

Based on this early discovery of his talent in life he continued to nurture his raw talents and when he reached high school age, he studied with Chemu Senior High School, one of the best schools in Tema, Ghana. Chemu High provided him with the basics he needed to sharpen and properly develop his skills and raw talents.

When he completed his studies at Chemu Senior High he enrolled in a private art institution to improve upon his skills some more and soon afterwards started working on his own for a while. Seeing how dynamic today’s world has become and wanting to take advantage of it all, Mr. Appiah studied graphics at the IPMC College of Technology in Ghana with the financial support of his mother who raised him and his siblings as a single parent.

I have personally had the opportunity of talking to and seeing some of Thomas’ work and I know three things for sure: he is extremely passionate about his work, he is multi-talented and above all, he has a strong desire to make people–especially children–happy either directly or indirectly through his work. When I asked him to talk about his work he told me that he has different “styles of painting, but I’d describe my main style as a semi-detailed abstract and a form of free style painting. My figures are painted in an elongated, elaborate, tense and elegant way in sharp and deliberate contrast to harmonious naturalism. I mainly depict African images blended in a non-African style of painting and I also do that through graffiti art.

It’s one thing to hear it from the horses own mouth and it’s a totally different thing to see things for yourself and since seeing is believing, to check out some of his work click on this link. According to Thomas he “started with a watercolor ink. I applied this on textured card stock, canvas or paper, but now I use acrylic paints, oil paints, can sprays, Graffiti pens and I feel that my paintings have improved.” Am no painting connoisseur but I do know and can easily appreciate a greater work of art when I see one but who am I to judge, take a look again for yourself from the samples I have shared with you here and don’t forget to like or comment through your Google+ or Gmail accounts.

Celebrating one oh his completed works that sent him to the ‘animal kingdom’.

On seeing Mr Appiah’s work I felt really impressed and decided to discover what made him tick; that which really inspires him and this was the response he gave me: “My creative palette extends to several visual channels, and I believe education will improve my skills. I aspire to become a cartoonist one day and also establish an art institution. I want to use my means and talents to help the physically challenged and less privilege ones around me,” he says of his long term future ambitions and dreams. Thomas hopes to continue selling some of his art works to raise funds towards his education as well as helping people around him. I therefore encourage any of you that might be interested in his work to feel free and reach out to me here and I will gladly put you in direct contact with him.

There’s been a lot of difficulties that have gotten in the way and continue to get in the way of Mr. Alicoe’s desire to achieve his dreams as an artiste with the biggest of such negatives which he has so far been able to somewhat get over being coming to terms with the reality of his father’s passing away. This unfortunate happening left him to be raised by a single. Another was the tremendous criticisms he faced from some religious circles in his community and from his peers especially about some of his work and their portrayals which some people felt was in contradiction to their beliefs. Those rather difficult times have been severe enough to almost bring Thomas to a halt. Yet his determination couple with the support received from his mother and those who really believe in what he does is what kept him going till today.

When I first saw the kind of work that Thomas was doing and the quality attached to it, I was very surprised that he hadn’t got the opportunity to expose himself and his work to the art community in a very formal way in his native Ghana. After talking to him for a while I decided to feature him on my blog especially after hearing him say: “I have not participated in any group exhibition before, yet I have sold a lot of my works mostly to tourists who come visiting Ghana and end up around my art (some of whom I meet privately) though I must confess that even though business is slow in Ghana, sometimes I do get contracts that are very financially rewarding. I have more of my works around the world in countries like Germany, England, Australia, the USA and in my homeland Ghana,” he tells me.

It is my hope that this piece will get to bring Thomas Alicoe Appiah more of the exposure he needs especially in the Ghanaian art community and also in the world because until now, the method by which he exhibits his art works is mainly via social media through mediums like Facebook, Google+ and more radical means like doing elaborate and beautiful graffiti either on unpainted walls of uncompleted or abandon buildings. Thomas sees his rather modernistic and unconventional ways of exhibiting his work as being effective in a way because  it has been good and has brought him friends, collectors and art lovers from all over and I am hoping you too will become a fan of his.

Written by Oral Ofori

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