Amoako Boafo: I Stand by Me
From 10 September to 24 October 2020, Mariane Ibrahim will present I STAND BY ME by Amoako Boafo, his first solo exhibition at the gallery. The show features never before seen works, representing a moment of reflection during this time of crisis, emphasizing the notion of autonomy and self-reflection, a call to preserve one’s integrity and independence.
The oil on canvas and photo transfer compositions in I STAND BY ME mark a significant development in his technique. Concerned with a constant need to redefine new aesthetic and visual nomenclatures and to explore different ways of expressing themes; the artist emphasizes atmospheric naturalism and the impressionist rendering of motion. Boafo uses painting as an instrument for navigating the complexities of human experiences and depicting a vivid sense of each subject’s presence in the world.
The latest large-scale works accentuate Boafo’s unmistakable figurative language and influence from great masters of classical portraiture to expressionism. Although his paintings focus on human figures, his lively mark-making creates a new heightened palette to convey mystical emotion.
The faces and hands of Boafo’s subjects are formed in whirls of blue and brown oil paint, so thin that every stroke evokes the figures to pulse with energy, drenched in colour, and almost sculptural. His subjects are buoyant, some on monochrome backdrops, their luminous flesh painted with the artist’s fingers in lieu of brushes.
The new works maneuver amidst maximum expression to minimalism. In certain areas, the forms are reduced to impressions or partial figures and limbs. Boafo leaves out all that is unnecessary, diminishing his backgrounds to a simple wash of colour, to focus on his primary interest, his subjects.
The artist celebrates the subjects bound to the world around him, inspired by powerful Black emerging designers and creatives. In his tableau vivants, Boafo places the figures at a higher recognition, both physically in regards to the size and spiritually in terms of their grandeur. To the artist’s disclosure, some remain anonymous, and some revealed subtly through suggestive elements in the title of the works. Regardless of the viewer, the gaze of the subject functions to disrupt observations from canonical, often white, viewership and put forward definitive sentiments of how Black people are constructing their own identity.
Boafo uses sourced European wallpapers to explore the possibilities of the transfer method, inviting new connections to emerge between his composition and stylistic influences. Textiles adorn the figures and the backgrounds are created with a photo transfer method. Through this technique, Boafo continues to expand his own practise of painting and mark-making, finding new ways to treat his subjects.
Abstract voids surrounding the portraits create an intimacy that is free of distraction, promoting a focus towards human interiority rather than bodily form. These negative spaces reveal abstract expressionist movement, bestowing harmonious balance between the foreground and background. The works in I STAND BY ME entrance the gaze of the viewer, an invitation for a critical reflection and celebration of oneself.
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