Glimpses of the crowd on exhibition’s opening night – by Nii Odzenma
Kwame Nkrumah’s University of Science and Technology (KNUST) ‘s end of year exhibition offered Accra for the third year in a row, a plethora and diversity of works interrogating perceptions of sexuality, identity, consumerism, social patterns and heritage amongst other topics.
This year’s exhibition coined “Cornfields in Accra” was borrowed from Ghanaian writer Ama Atta Aidoo’s eponymous poem, to depict labour and most of all, resilience. Curators of the show[i] presented new media works in the mix of artworks and wanted to increase accessibility of these works by including braille and local language translations.
Popular KNUST alumni also contributed to the exhibition with artist Ibrahim Mahama’s iconic jute sacks draping like last year the entrance of the Museum of Science and Technology and promising artist Adjo Kisser’s large fresco coating one side of the Museum.
Among the remarkable works of graduates, Desmond Acquah’s ‘organs’ surrounded the ground floor with several sets of 3-4 organs scientifically presented under a glass. The itemised organs representing lungs, hearts, kidneys, were detached from the human body and covered with fluorescent glitter offering viewers a semblance of sugary glistening crystals. The illusory appearance of these organs as colourful candy offered a sharp contrast between the reality and rawness of the items.
Photo: Caleb Prah, Madonna – Nii Odzenma
A few “classical” paintings were visible, the ones from Afia Prempeh, attracting many gazes. Prempeh’s works in large frames are hard to avoid and mix classic with surrealist art. She features historical Ghanaian figures such as the country’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah, the warrior Yaa Asantewaa as well as agriculturist Tetteh Quarshie. In her own words, even if glory seems to be portrayed, she overall critiques the failures of globalisation, democracy and the New World Order.
Guests viewing Afia Prempeh – BlaxTARLINES
Other abstract artworks also questioned viewers on the place of dirt in our lives (Percy Nii Nortey), to our understanding of patriarchy and women’s owning of their hair (Priscilla Kennedy) to satirical illustrations of Ghanaian society (Bright Ackwerh).
The diversity and richness of works from nearly a hundred artists showcased was dizzying and beyond inspiring, a tangible proof that Ghanaian artists “will survive among the turbines”[ii] and have so much more to share with the world.
Exhibition was extended until end of August. More information: https://www.facebook.com/blaxtarlines
[i] BlaxTARLINES KUMASI, project space for contemporary art; the KNUST and the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board
[ii] Ama Ata Aidoo “Cornfields in Accra” poem.