Amoako Boafo, who has become a superstar in the art world, has been back home in Ghana, where one of his self-portraits is being exhibited. He told journalist Stephen Smith that he never intended to be an artist.
For all Amoako Boafo’s head-turning success, he is a reluctant interviewee. Not yet 40, he has had his canvases displayed in the galleries of the mega-dealer Larry Gagosian, who has hailed him as “the future of portraiture”.
Boafo says he used to vie with his friends to see who could do the best drawings of their favorite superheroes, but art simply wasn’t a career choice when he was growing up.
“All I know is that studying portraiture growing up, it never dawned on me that it was a form of art that artists of color could reference and study,” he says of Gagosian’s high praise. “So to see that my work is regarded in that way is a lot to process.”
His is a real-life rags-to-riches story. The Ghanaian used to scavenge for food in rubbish bins in his hometown of Accra to support his mother and grandmother. Now his portraits of black subjects, often painted with his fingertips, can command up to seven figures at auction.
He has emblazoned his work onto the fuselage of Jeff Bezos’s rocket ship, becoming one of the first artists to exhibit in space. It doesn’t come more ragged, it doesn’t get much richer.
Boafo’s the shooting star of a remarkable constellation of talent from West Africa. One of the striking features of this scene is how readily Boafo and his peers acknowledge each other’s abilities and pool their resources and know-how.
He recently visited Accra to check on the progress of an artists’ residency he supports at his studio. He was also exhibiting at a group show in the Ghanaian capital.
It was a rare opportunity to catch up with a man who is always on the move, from his base in Vienna to commissions around the world, and perhaps a chance to grab a few words with him.
He was born in 1984 and his father died when he was very young. His mother worked as a cook and Boafo taught himself to paint while she was out of the house.
He showed promise on the tennis court and supported himself for a few years as a semi-pro player. He only got the chance to go to art school after one of the people his mum worked for offered to pay his tuition fees.
He graduated top of his class from the Ghanatta College of Art and Design in Accra in 2008, taking the title of Best Portrait Painter of the Year.
In 2014, he moved to Europe with an Austrian artist called Sunanda Mesquita, who became his wife.
Boafo’s big break came in 2018 when his paintings were discovered on Instagram by Kehinde Wiley, the artist best known for his portrait of former US President Barack Obama, who recommended Boafo to the galleries he works with.
I asked him about getting Wiley’s backing.
“It was a major step for me,” he replied. “His support came in the early days of my career, and this partly inspired my desire to continue to form relationships and share spaces with my fellow artists and creatives for sharing experiences which would hopefully be beneficial to them.”
I met Boafo at his studio close to the seafront, dot. ateliers, a three-story building designed by the well-known Ghanaian-British architect Sir David Adjaye.
The building is the color of sand and finished in uncompromising breezeblock. This ramification wraps around an inner structure, enabling cooling winds off the sea to ventilate the property. A staircase winding inside the breezeblock and up to Boafo’s workspace on the third floor offers a view of crashing surf and of a funeral taking place in a nearby compound, the mourners in vivid designs of black and white.
The roof of Boafo’s building is a cockscomb with three points, said to be an audacious nod to the crown motif in the paintings of Jean-Michel Basquiat.
In the space of a very few years, Boafo has gone from selling his pictures for £100 ($125) or so in Ghana to exhibiting at international fairs and seeing buyers outbid each other for his work.
In the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter movement, museums and collectors belatedly realized that they had few if any works by black artists in their holdings and scrambled to make good the omission.
Work of Boafo’s caliber has been particularly in demand.
He says he’s flattered by the accolades. I wondered if his rapid ascent had brought its pressures.
“My success, hopefully, has allowed me to impact the lives of others in my community.
“Being able to provide resources for members of my creative community through my residency means a lot to me. As far as the stress of reaching a wider audience, I can’t say it’s that heavy.”
Boafo has contributed a self-portrait to an exhibition of work by artists from the African diaspora – In and Out of Time – which is on show at Gallery 1957 in Accra, curated by Ekow Eshun, a former director of the ICA in London.
In his painting, the artist is seen from the back, naked from the waist up, arms above his head, perhaps in celebration.
As is often his practice, he had painted the work with his fingertips. He signed it “Amoako Boafo King”. A source close to the exhibition told me that King is a name he uses, or perhaps the meaning of his name.
The gallery is owned by Marwan Zahkem, a Lebanese-born developer and art impresario, who was one of the first people to buy Boafo’s work and exhibit it.
“What we are seeing in West Africa now is a movement like the Young British Artists in the 1980s, and Amoako is the Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin of this movement,” he told me.
Osei Bonsu, a curator of international art at London’s Tate Modern, put Boafo on the cover of his major new book African Art Now – or rather, he chose Boafo’s painting Yellow Dress, which sold at Christie’s last year for £675,000, more than double its estimate. The record price for Boafo’s work is currently £2.5m.
“In chronicling a generation of young people who perform their identities through the medium of the ‘selfie’, Boafo’s portraits figure a vital relationship between the historical traditions of portraiture and the social media age we are living in today,” Bonsu said.
As for the superstar himself, Boafo told me that he prefers painting to talking about painting.
“At the end of the day, I paint because I love to create,” he said.
“As an artist, I think we are most stressed when we have to attend to tasks that pull us away from the studio. So for me activities which are not painting, I won’t say I’m stressed about, but are less exciting – unless it’s tennis!”
Stephen Smith is a writer and broadcaster based in London. In and Out of Time is at Gallery 1957 in Accra until 12 December.
MTN Ghana Introduces New Tariffs Effective November 28, 2023
On November 28, 2023, MTN Ghana implemented new tariffs, marking a significant change in the cost structure for their services. This move has captured the attention of consumers, prompting them to evaluate how these adjustments will impact their communication expenses.
The telecommunications industry is dynamic, with companies frequently reassessing their pricing strategies to align with market demands, technological advancements, and regulatory changes. MTN Ghana, as a major player in this sector, regularly updates its tariffs to maintain competitiveness and provide sustainable services.
One of the notable changes in the new tariffs is the adjustments to call rates. Customers can anticipate shifts in the cost per minute for both on-net and off-net calls. This modification is likely to impact the communication habits of subscribers, influencing the choice between making calls within the MTN network or to other networks.
Additionally, data tariffs have seen revisions, reflecting the growing importance of mobile data in our digital age. As individuals increasingly rely on smartphones for various activities, including work, entertainment, and social interactions, understanding the adjustments to data tariffs is crucial. MTN Ghana aims to strike a balance between affordability and quality service, ensuring that users can access the internet without compromising on speed and reliability.
Moreover, the new tariffs might include changes to SMS charges. With the prevalence of instant messaging apps, traditional SMS usage has declined. However, for certain services and communication scenarios, text messages remain relevant. Subscribers should be aware of any modifications in SMS rates to manage their messaging expenses effectively.
It’s essential for MTN Ghana customers to stay informed about these tariff adjustments to make informed decisions based on their communication needs and budget. The company typically communicates such changes through various channels, including SMS notifications, social media updates, and announcements on their official website.
This tariff adjustment by MTN Ghana may be a response to various factors, such as inflation, infrastructure investments, or changes in regulatory requirements. Understanding the reasons behind these adjustments can provide customers with a broader perspective on the evolving telecommunications landscape.
The new tariffs implemented by MTN Ghana on November 28, 2023, underscore the dynamic nature of the telecommunications industry. Customers are encouraged to review the changes, assess their communication patterns, and make informed choices to ensure their mobile usage remains both convenient and cost-effective in this ever-evolving digital age.
The changes in MTN Ghana’s tariffs are expected to influence consumer behavior in several ways. With adjustments to call rates, subscribers may reconsider their communication preferences, opting for on-net calls to leverage more cost-effective options. This shift could potentially strengthen MTN’s network usage as customers seek ways to optimize their spending. Similarly, alterations in data tariffs may prompt users to reevaluate their data consumption habits, potentially leading to increased reliance on Wi-Fi networks or more judicious use of mobile data. Understanding these shifts in consumer behavior is crucial for both MTN Ghana and its subscribers, as it enables the company to tailor its services to meet evolving needs.
The telecommunications industry is highly competitive, with various providers vying for market share. MTN Ghana’s tariff adjustments are likely influenced by the need to remain competitive in this dynamic environment. Analyzing how these changes position MTN in comparison to other players in the market provides valuable insights into the company’s strategic approach. Additionally, consumers may compare the new tariffs with those of competitors, exploring potential benefits or drawbacks that could influence their decision to stay with MTN or consider alternative service providers.
Effective communication and transparency play a pivotal role in managing customer expectations during tariff adjustments. MTN Ghana must ensure that its subscribers are well-informed about the changes, providing clear explanations for the reasons behind the adjustments. Transparent communication fosters trust and helps mitigate any potential backlash from customers who may be resistant to changes in pricing. Additionally, proactive communication can guide users on how to navigate the new tariff structure, empowering them to make informed choices that align with their communication needs and budget constraints.
Telecommunications companies operate within a regulatory framework that can impact their pricing strategies. Changes in tariffs may be influenced by regulatory requirements, and understanding this aspect is essential for both the company and its users. MTN Ghana’s compliance with regulations ensures a stable and legal operating environment. Subscribers should be aware of any regulatory factors that contribute to these tariff adjustments, as this knowledge can provide context for the changes and help users appreciate the broader industry dynamics shaping their mobile communication experiences.
Let’s live harmoniously to safeguard Ghana’s peace – Peace Council on recent clashes
The National Peace Council (NPC) has called on Ghanaians to live harmoniously with each other to safeguard the country’s peace.
It has urged Ghanaians to protect “the peace and security of the country by creating and using avenues of tolerance, cooperation, and coexistence to sustain the country’s identity as an oasis of peace in Africa.”
This follows the unfortunate violent clashes in some parts of the country which have resulted in the deaths of some citizens.
Reports from Kintampo in the Bono East Region, Nkwanta in the Oti Region, and Wenchiki in the Northeast Region indicate that violence has led to the destruction of lives and property in these affected communities.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the NPC reminded Ghanaians “of paragraphs (c), (d) and (i) of
article 41 of the 1992 constitution of the Republic of Ghana which states thus: The exercise and enjoyment of rights and freedoms is inseparable from the performance of duties and obligations, and accordingly, it shall be the duty of every citizen.”
“To foster national unity and live in harmony with others; to respect the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of others, and generally to refrain from doing acts detrimental to the welfare of other persons. To co-operate with lawful agencies in the maintenance of law and order.”
Read the full statement from the NPC here
Defence and National Security Ministers to appear before parliament today over Kintampo clash
The Ministers of Defence and National Security are expected to appear before the Defence and Interior Committee of Parliament on Thursday, November 23, to provide a briefing on actions being taken by the government to forestall a clash between the Mo and Wangara tribes in the Kintampo North municipality.
This comes on the back of a summons by the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin.
According to the Member of Parliament for the area, Joseph Kwame Kumah, tensions were high when the Mo tribe requested to perform rituals within the months of November and December, coinciding with the annual Klubi festival of the Wangara community.
In response to calls for a ceasefire by the MP, the Speaker directed that the government must take immediate steps to ensure peaceful coexistence.
“As the first authorities to come to this house to brief the committee on Defense and Interior, this is an urgent matter that should be handled with dispatch. I think Thursday should be okay for the two ministers and their commanders to appear before the committee early tomorrow morning by 9 am to brief the committee. It is an urgent matter.”
“The National Security Council through their regional office should immediately intervene because the chieftaincy institution is one of the cornerstones of the peace and security of our country, and we hold that institution dearly. We will do everything to prevent that institution from falling into disarray,” he stated.
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