Allouche Gallery, Los Angeles presents “New Perspectives: A Group Showing of African Portraiture,” a group exhibition featuring the works of five contemporary African painters. “New Perspectives” shines a light on depictions of identity through portraiture in the works of notable Nigerian and Ghanaian contemporary artists Israel Agboola, Frank Coffie, Mamus Esiebo, Kelani Fatai and Foster Sakyiamah.
Distinct voices and thematic approaches of each artist create a dynamic and multi-layered exhibition. Kelani Fatai empowers the African image in his works through its association with regality. Ornate decorative patterns merge modern African subjects with the language of Old Masters. Politics of race and power are at the forefront of his striking paintings through giving representation to people of color in contexts where they were often overlooked throughout art history.
Mamus Esiebo and Foster Sakyiamah choose to accentuate leisure paired with the vibrancy and energy of their respective home countries of Nigeria and Ghana. Influences of graphic design are prominent, with both artists' works being characterized by bold shapes and flattened planes. Foster Sakyiamah breaks up the color scales of his paintings through lush patterned designs made into the texture of his paintings’ surface.
A fusion of traditional Ghanaian influences and modern artistic expressions inspire the earthy works of Frank Coffie. Through incorporating accents of hand-strung yarn in his canvases, Coffee gives recognition to the history of textiles in traditional Ghanaian art. His contemporary subjects, posed embracing one another, or solitarily, reflect on the strength and importance of communal bonds.
When asked about what he strives to convey in his work, Coffie states, “I want the viewer to feel strength in a moment of defeat… a positive side to a negative moment.” The idea of strength in defeat comes through strongly in his portraiture. Israel Agboola’s works function as a means of storytelling, as he captures the relationship shared by the viewer and the subject of each painting. The unapologetic gaze of the relaxed woman resting in “The Waiting Room” is confronting yet soft. The golden hues of bronzed skin provide a timeless quality in Agboola’s work, while also radiating strength, beauty, and femininity- capturing and accentuating the truest essence of his subjects.
The distinct and unique color palette of “New Perspectives” reflects the rich cultural diversity and vibrant landscapes found throughout Nigeria and Ghana. Often characterized by a bold and dynamic use of color, African art continues to be influenced by the continent's diverse ecosystems, traditions, and histories, and the role of self within it all.