By John Owoo
(In Accra – Ghana)
Gallery 1957 in Accra brought nostalgic feelings as I walk calmly into its well lit space – I am immediately confronted by a façade of a Ghanaian house that serves as an objective and symbolic window into the life of Ghanaian artist Gideon Appah.
As I get closer, the reminiscence appears to intensify as I set my eyes on a black and white television set, Gold Star VHS video recorder, broken ladder, wooden bench, banana or plantain tree, trap doors with inscriptions by kids, broken flower pots and rusted aluminum roofing sheets.
Severally and jointly, the artist brings his childhood memories and upbringing in focus through his family life while re-contextualizing the family space with multi layered stories that resonate the lives and activities of many African families.
Indeed, memorable love letters, personal / family photos covered in transparent plastic sheets and films produced in Ghana on VHS tapes, which highlight themes relating to preservation of local traditions against embracing global desires and foreign cultures effectively add to the unfolding narrative of Appah.
His large-scale paintings employ a chromatic language that uncovers hidden historical tales and communal predictions that engulfed his family while reflecting those of his neighborhood, its immediate environs and the country at large.
Spirituality is visible with churchgoers clad in while apparel set against blue backgrounds while melancholy waters from surreal works come together to reveal the spirituality and physicality of Appah’s story with others depicting the space between domesticity and folklore.
Appah, who is the winner of the 1st Merit Prize Award at the Barclays l’Atelier Art Competition in Johannesburg (South Africa), has featured in group shows at FRACCIONAR – Casa Luis Barragán (Mexico), a booth with Gallery 1957 at 1-54 Contemporary Africa Art Fair (New York – USA) and the Goethe-Institut (Accra – Ghana).
Katherine Finerty (USA) and Michael Babanawo (Ghana) are curating the exhibition, which is titled “Love Letters”. It ends on Thursday August 15.