Post-colonial African dynamism under re-examination

by • September 5, 2021 • FeaturedArticle, NewsComments (0)198

By John Owoo

(In Accra – Ghana)

Large scale paintings by British artist Arthur Timothy that are inspired by rich archival material from his late father are on display at Gallery 1957 in Accra.

The archives, which are largely in black and white formats, depict close family members and nonfictional events in Ghana and Sierra Leone, which have been metamorphosed into swanky paintings that take viewers on a mute journey to the past and back.

Timothy created these works owing to a re-examination of post-colonial African dynamism that informed his early years in Ghana, where he was born to Ghanaian and Sierra Leonian parents.

Indeed, paintings on show are a direct consequence of Timothy’s works – which are multifaceted and intricate – while others are underlined by reminiscence and lost to the sands of time.

An architect by profession, the artist allows a great deal of light in his paintings thereby enabling them to sparkle. The paintings reveal leisure situations where people are relaxed and posed freely for photographs.

Titled “Grandma’s Hands”, he captures Ghanaian politicians of the period including Kojo Botsio, K. A. Gbedemah, A. Caseley-Hayford and T. Hutton-Mills in colourful Kente cloths alongside a British delegation from the House of Commons, who are garbed in top hats and tails.

Curated by Ekow Eshun, these paintings depict feelings, sentiments and a broad sense of attachment to family and the community at large, while evoking the essence of our humanity. 

Undeniably, the characters are intimate friends, acquaintances and public figures that helps in narrating part of the Ghanaian story in the 1960s and beyond, which characterized the early years of Ghana’s independence.

Timothy studied at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. His artworks have been exhibited at the Royal Academy, Ronchini Gallery and Pippy Houldsworth Gallery (all in the United Kingdom). He is part of important international collections including the permanent collection of ICA Miami (USA).

A writer and curator, Eshun is the Chairman of the Fourth Plinth Commissioning Group overseeing the most prestigious public art programme in the United Kingdom and a former Director of the ICA, London.

He is the author of “Africa State of Mind: Contemporary Photography Reimagines a Continent” (Thames & Hudson) and “Black Gold of the Sun” (Penguin), which was nominated for the Orwell prize.

The exhibition ends on Friday October 1, 2021.

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