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MAY 26- JULY 5, 2011


By Dr.  Nii Bonney Andrews

The work of three Ghanaian women artists- Marigold Akufo-Addo, Adwoa Boakyewaa Amoah and Fatric Bewong constitute the exhibition, “Presence in Absence”. All of the three, who are painters, live and work in Accra.

This exhibition enhances the already solid reputation of the Dei Center as a well appointed venue and a credible institution for the showcasing and study of contemporary African art.

Fulani Head

By Marigold Akufo-Addo

The glossy exhibition catalog also reinforces the indispensable standard of providing provenance for the work of contemporary Ghanaian artists; sadly up to only a few years ago this was missing at local art exhibitions.

However, the same catalog posits “Presence in Absence” within the “patriarchal structure of the current contemporary Ghanaian art world”. Really??

A simple collation of elementary empirical evidence with respect to ownership and control of art galleries within the center of Accra renders this assertion as inaccurate. Perhaps, the three women artists know this and that is why they “eschew an essential female position”!

The common thread in their work appears to be popular culture; this is central to their symbolism of expression thus lending itself to Ghanaian exaggeration or hyperbole while concurrently subverting and asserting authority.

With Adwoa Amoah, she is undeniably on a quest. Her quest is to locate herself as a Ghanaian- as an African-as an artist within the contemporary world. She explores the eye (?I) as a metaphor in form and material.

Working with oil on canvas as a base followed by aggregations of newspaper cuttings and photographs, the mixed media productions of Amoah question, analyze and inform the social construct of identification. She forgoes facial features and focuses on the intricacies of the eye/eyes- and their immediate surroundings.

In her works “Obi”, “Take a stand” and “Piloloo III” these techniques come to fruition as a panoramic survey of the multitude of phenotypes of this “window to the soul”. Emotions and chance effect are provided decisive agency in the repetitive nature of the exercise thereby enhancing the viewer’s choice of perception.

Over the last several years, it appears that Amoah has transited to the use of brighter colors; she has moved away from the dark blues, indigo and black of her earlier works. Perhaps this renders her work more accessible.

Fatric Bewong’s acrylic paintings on canvas are explosive dynamic splotches of textured color that attempt to freely encapsulate the emotions, energies and sounds of her environment. Bewong utilizes the random fluidity and fusion of the various acrylic paint pigments to signify the effect of globalization on emerging economies and particularly on their physical environments.

The resultant images are ominous; “Gush!”, “Flow”, “HeaRing the Sea” and “Just before the Rains” are all potent harbingers of a fossil fuel based economy, run riot through naked greed and monumental political and institutional incompetence; everything is then at risk-land, sea, animals and of course, the human spirit.

Clearly, Bewong must be applauded for her courage in trying to introduce new imagery into the tool bag of representation in Ghanaian art; the results while uneven can definitely not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

A graduate of the Slade School of Fine Art, Marigold Akufo-Addo has had a long and colorful history in contemporary African art. She utilizes oil, acrylics and mixed media to build up her canvasses in minute squares.

These textured squares glitter – almost like sequins, thereby unfolding changing or evolving forms and shimmering landscapes. Transcultural ideographs are often incorporated in the paintings; they include Arabic script in “The Last Dance at Bobo Daoulasso/Dalabani”; elements of Islamic/Moorish architecture in “Krekue Djan” and hieroglyphics in “Falcon/Self Take Off”.

The blood stained background around the central slag heap with its skyscrapers recalls the great city of the south and the seminal struggle of its indigenous workers in “Conflict Diamonds II”; here Akufo-Addo achieves a riveting effect. The androgynous “Head-Fulani” is a post-modern gem and almost just doubles as a video installation.

When at her best, Akufo-Addo’s art is wonderfully adept at delving into the past and harnessing it for the present in order to enhance or consolidate the future.

All told, the curatorial team at the Dei Center has created a highly satisfactory exhibition. The works though uneven for each individual artist are candid, polemical and thought provoking.

” Presence in Absence” provides a timely, important and meaningful window into a CENTRAL aspect of contemporary Ghanaian art- the work of women artists.

Nii Bonney Andrews
Blebo We- Sakumo

June 25,2011.





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Review, June 26, Ghanadot - The work of three Ghanaian women artists- Marigold Akufo-Addo, Adwoa Boakyewaa Amoah and Fatric Bewong constitute the exhibition, “Presence in Absence”. All of the three, who are painters, live and work in Accra....
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