The Financial Times looks at Ghana as a case study in African art’s emergence as well as the limitations of the continent’s art infrastructure, especially galleries to market and sell art that generates income for artists.
The story uses El Anatsui as an example of an artist who had to leave Ghana for neighboring Nigeria to succeed as an artist.
But a new generation of artists is choosing to live and work in its native country. This is made possible not just by the growing global cachet of African art, but also by the rise of social media, which provide artists with the means to promote their work overseas without leaving home.
Thus the FT’s story centers on Accra’s Gallery 1957 which represents several of the country’s most prominent international voices:
“One of the main reasons we started Gallery 1957 was to support Ghanaian artists like Zohra so they can live, work and sell their art here,” says British-Lebanese construction entrepreneur Marwan Zakhem, who set up the gallery in the Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City.
This is all very interesting but there’s a subtext to the story. Two of the Ghanian artists—Ibrahim Mahama and Serge Attukwei Clottey—who appear in the story have both been heavily marketed by Stefan Simchowitz (though Mahama and Simchowitz have since been embroiled in a welter of lawsuits and counter-suits.)
And what we don’t learn from the Financial Times is whether the description of social media allowing artists to market their work without leaving home omits the need for Western influencers to pick up the artists or whether the artists are able to get there on their own. Worth noting, Serge Attukwei Clottey’s Instagram account is private.
The art of Ghana (FT.com)