Prolific Ghanian artist Amoako Boafo recently spoke with Dazed about his new exhibition, Singular Duality: Me Can Make We, currently on view at LA’s Roberts Projects until November 6th.
Boafo’s spirited, large-scale paintings honor Blackness in all of its glory, and they are directly inspired by real people within his own community: those who raise his awareness, the disadvantaged population, or even stylish individuals that galvanize a future painting. “These are people I choose to celebrate through my portraits. They make me as much as I make them,” he said. The striking portraits within Singular Duality feature people that would usually not have the opportunity to be portrayed in such a way. Those who have been silenced or marginalized are oftentimes who Boafo gravitates towards in his art, or the people who influence him through the humanitarian work that they’re doing in the world.
One distinguishing factor in Boafo’s paintings is how the shadows are detached from his subjects, and the meaning behind this artistic choice carries a deep sense of wisdom. “The presence of shadows here is me introducing my subjects’ shadows, once connected but now separated and almost becoming an image in their own right,” he explained. “My subjects are individuals with their own dreams, goals, traumas, aspirations, and pain and these are all present behind that look of confidence and poise. It is important to note that a person must know and accept themselves in totality, not pretend to have only one side.”
The artist’s use of vivid, bold colors is rooted in expression and has cultural significance. “In my culture, for instance, certain colours convey a direct message in communicating a person’s mood. So it is in my paintings,” Boafo tells Dazed. “I use colours to convey the mood of my subjects or my mood while painting, be it the background, the clothes of the subjects, or an item surrounding my subjects. These colours in my works mostly inspire connections between the observer and subjects of the work.”
When asked what he’s most thrilled for in the Black art world, Boafo enthused about how there has been a major inclusion of Black art and African art in popular culture, which is a considerable victory. “There is a whole plethora of artworks and artists waiting to erupt out of Africa and Black culture onto the global stage. This is exciting and I am looking forward to seeing its direct impact on the African art market and the emergence of world-class artists out of Africa.“
Learn more about Amoako Boafo’s solo exhibition Singular Duality: Me Can Make We by visiting Roberts Projects.