In Pictures: Experience Ghana's contemporary art scene at new Accra gallery

In Pictures: Experience Ghana's contemporary art scene at new Accra gallery
Presenting Gallery 1957 — Named after the year in which Ghana became an independent nation, Gallery 1957 is a new contemporary art gallery opening in the country's capital, where local artists will finally be able to exhibit their work at home, rather than just internationally.

It was in 1957 that Ghana became the first black African country to become independent, following years of colonial rule. The year itself continues to be a revered as an important time in Ghanaian history, and has inspired the name of a new art gallery opening in the capital Accra this March.

Gallery 1957 is the brainchild of Marwan Zakhem, a prominent collector of African art, with exhibits and installations curated by writer and filmmaker Nana Oforiatta Ayim. While the gallery is opening with contemporary art, it aims to soon exhibit older generations of Ghanaian artists, alongside artists from the Diaspora and wider international communities. Local artists to be exhibited in the future include Zohra Opoku, Jeremian Quarshie and Yaw Owusu, as well as work by Ibrahim Mahama commissioned exclusively for the gallery.

Photo: Serge Attukwei Clottey, work from My Mother's Wardrobe, ©the artist, courtesy Gallery 1957, Accra

Photo: Serge Attukwei Clottey, work from My Mother’s Wardrobe, ©the artist, courtesy Gallery 1957, Accra

Gallery 1957 kicks off with a performance and installation by Ghanaian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey, founder of the GoLokal performance collective and creator of the Afrogallonism movement – art commenting on consumption within modern Africa. His latest work is inspired by his late mother, and the weaving of textiles and materials once belonging to her.

Huck was able to grab a brief Q&A with Gallery 1957 founder Marwan Zakhem, where he spoke of his hopes for his new venture.

Photo: Serge Attukwei Clottey, work from My Mother's Wardrobe, ©the artist, courtesy Gallery 1957, Accra

Photo: Serge Attukwei Clottey, work from My Mother’s Wardrobe, ©the artist, courtesy Gallery 1957, Accra

What inspired your decision to found the gallery?
I founded the gallery to support, complement and highlight the art scene that is already starting to grow here in Accra. We aim to further understanding of the country’s art and artists, foster relationships between Ghanaian artists and international art institutions, and promote discourse and new narratives.

Where did your own appreciation of art come from, and why Ghanaian art in particular?
I’ve always been interested in visual arts, but first started collecting when I moved to Africa with my company around 15 years ago. I was immediately taken with the aesthetic power and conceptual richness of the work I was seeing by Ghanaian artists. I got to know many of the artists working across the country and have been collecting and developing my knowledge ever since.

Photo: Serge Attukwei Clottey, work from My Mother's Wardrobe, ©the artist, courtesy Gallery 1957, Accra

Photo: Serge Attukwei Clottey, work from My Mother’s Wardrobe, ©the artist, courtesy Gallery 1957, Accra

What are your hopes for the gallery long-term, both as an institute and in terms of social change?
With the help of our Creative Director Nana Oforiatta Ayim (who is also the founder of the cultural research platform ANO), we aim to work closely with existing, independent organisations in Accra to expand our activities outside the gallery walls into public places. It’s important to understand that while the aim is for the gallery is to be self-sustainable, its main aim is to support and highlight the amazing art scene in the region.

Do you think there’s a cultural blind spot when it comes to African art? How do you propose we can raise the profile of under-represented talent?
People around the world seem very receptive to contemporary African art and it’s gradually increasingly in visibility on an international stage. More African artists are being shown in museums around the world, as well as at important festivals and biennales like Documenta and Venice.

However, there is certainly a lot of under-represented talent, particularly from Ghana. The gallery aims to foster a deeper understanding of Ghana’s contemporary art and supports international exchange between West Africa and the rest of the world by communicating its exhibitions, installations and performances through conversations, publications and a strong digital output.

Photo: Serge Attukwei Clottey, work from My Mother's Wardrobe, ©the artist, courtesy Gallery 1957, Accra

Photo: Serge Attukwei Clottey, work from My Mother’s Wardrobe, ©the artist, courtesy Gallery 1957, Accra

Photo: Studio of Serge Attukwei Clottey, work  in progress for My Mother's Wardrobe , ©the artist, courtesy Gallery 1957, Accra

Photo: Studio of Serge Attukwei Clottey, work in progress for My Mother’s Wardrobe , ©the artist, courtesy Gallery 1957, Accra

Gallery 1957 opens March 6 in Accra, Ghana.

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