By John Owoo
(In Accra – Ghana)
An exhibition of works by Ghanaian artist / academic Dr. Agyeman Ossei will on Friday September 4 open at the Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art (SCCA) in the Northern regional capital, Tamale.
Curated by Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh, Adjoa Amoah and Naa Koshie Thompson, the exhibition is set to amplify the dialogic relations between the linguistic, structural and formal elements operative in Ossei’s work, which are largely inspired by Asante proverbial culture, philosophy and folk / highlife music.
Others are poetry translated via collage, drama, literature, painting, sculpture, video and new media alongside a cross-disciplinary practice that attempts a linkage of the symbolic, semiotic and metaphysical in art. His works celebrate cultural classics, literature and poetry while memorializing them through carving, modeling, painting and dramaturgy.
Indeed, as an artist whose aesthetic and cultural sensibilities have been shaped by formal education as well as “farmers and so called bums” he encountered during the early 1990s, Ossei experimentally weaves a secular linkage between the traditional, modernist and extra-modernist elements in his practice.
Titled “Akutia: Blindfolding the Sun and the Poetics of Peace”, this ground-breaking exhibition marks twenty-seven years since the artist’s preceding solo exhibition and will run between SCCA and its sister institution Red Clay Studios, which is located in Janna Kpeŋŋ, also in the Northern region.
Other activities lined up to complement the main exhibitions include live and virtual events encompassing other areas of the artist’s interests. These range from musical concerts, theater performances, workshops and film screenings.
Popularly known as Dota, Ossei was the artistic director of Abibigromma, a resident theater group at the University of Ghana from 2005 to 2009 and served as acting Executive Director of the National Theater of Ghana between 2012 and 2014.
He has directed and produced concerts with legendary Palm Wine Highlife musician Agya Koo Nimo and the National Symphony Orchestra as well as skits and jingles for radio in local Ghanaian languages such as Twi, Dagbani, Frafra, Ewe and Wala.
Ossei has contributed to numerous academic journals and publications worldwide and has translated and adapted literary works into theatre plays. Notable among them are Ayi Kwei Armah’s “The Beautiful Ones are Not Yet Born”, “Osiris Rising” and “The Healers”.
SCCA is an artist-run institution that functions as a project / exhibition space, research hub, cultural repository and artist’s residency. It is the initiative of the internationally acclaimed Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama as a contribution to the development and expansion of infrastructure for contemporary art in Ghana.
The exhibition ends on Thursday March 7, 2021.