By John Owoo
(At the Kempinski Hotel – Accra)
An exhibition of works by Ghanaian painter Jeremiah Quarshie that comprise sophisticated portraits characterized by distinctive realism is closing at Gallery 1957, which is located at the Kempinsky Hotel in Accra.
Titled “Yellow is the Colour of Water”, paintings on display revolve around water and the ever-present yellow plastic gallons that permeate all parts of Accra thereby vividly revealing one of the problems facing the city.
Indeed, his multifaceted and intricate portraits of people from all walks of life, who he gracefully places on “thrones” of gallons, reinforce the importance of this resource, which requires effective management and control.
These include images of his grandmother, footballers, laborers, nurses, pregnant women, market mummies, expatriates and several others who elegantly perch on these colourful gallons thereby exposing the contradictions that border on the quality of water and its availability.
Employing features of studio photography and a distinctive painterly language coupled with a subtle appropriation of traditions of the old masters, Quarshie effectively questions the construction of imagery and the boundaries of portraiture.
Curated by Robin Riskin, the exhibition is in a range of media formats and set across a network of site-specific mediations. These include Kotoka International Airport and the Tema Bus Station where gallons equally take the role of backdrops, props and chairs.
Educated at the College of Art, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (Kumasi), Quarshie’s work takes its history from social illogicalities in contemporary life while negotiating anxieties with satire and lightness.
He has participated in several group exhibitions – these include National Museum of Science and Technology, Prime Motors Ltd, Goethe-Institut, La Villa Boutique Hotel, Nubuke Foundation (Ghana), Villa Mohr (Germany), Sabi Yu Rutu (Suriname), and the Stedelijk Museum Bureau (The Netherlands).
Gallery 1957, which was founded by art collector Marwan Zakhem, is a new gallery with a curatorial focus on contemporary Ghanaian art presenting a programme of exhibitions, installations and performances by Ghana’s most significant artists.
The exhibition ends on Saturday October 22.