I met Maxwell while buying a painting of a roaring lion from the local art market, Tetteh Quarshie. Maxwell moved to Accra from Kumasi, in central Ghana’s Ashanti Region. He came to the city to look for a better market for painting. Maxwell started painting when he was in Junior Secondary School, (middle school) and apprenticed for eight years under two different artists. He paints because, as he says, “painting is my talent.” In Kumasi, Maxwell created portraits to order. In Accra, he mostly paints “African paintings” for students and tourists that pass by the art market where he lives and has his studio and shop. Two of Maxwell’s sisters are artists, also: one is a hairdresser and one is a seamstress. His mother sells plantains.
Maxwell in his studio at the roadside art market where he lives and works. His paintings are behind him.
Maxwell's change purses often feature realistic animals, including lions and zebras, and, of course, flamingos and elephants.
Boadi has a private art gallery in his bedroom, and he rotates the paintings out as they sell–which has the added benefit of changing the decor of his room periodically. When I visited, one wall of his tiny room was presided over by a huge, impressionistic beach scene in sunny blues and sandy tans; on another wall was a beautiful charcoal cityscape. He pulled canvasses out from behind the bed and corners of the room, showing me different works and explaining proudly that he had something for everyone.
Boadi works with huge swipes of paint–so large that he has trouble buying enough, especially white oil paint, which is hard to come by in Ghana. He showed me his canvases, on which he heaps the pigments.
Boadi's palettes, which are almost larger than the artist himself.
I first met Joseph in November. Some fellow students from the University of Ghana, Legon and I had traveled to Akropong to see (and participate in!) the Akuapem Festival in the hills outside of Accra. While wandering through the town, we happened upon a showing by a few of Ghana’s young, talented artists, including Joseph Adoblecki. Joseph’s works are beautiful; I got to see more of them when I visited his home and studio in Ashoman Estates.
Joseph, laughing, in his studio.
Joseph’s palette is full of grays and blues.
Joseph's paitings often show the streets of Accra, with its red dirt and jumbles of buildings.
Another painting by Joseph.
Joseph paints women in the city streets.
Houses from Cape Coast, a city nearby Accra.
Women are also common in Ghanaian art in general, and Joseph's art more specifically.
In Ghana, men and woman often carry their goods on their head, and the sillohette of a woman with a basket balanced on top of her brow is a common one.
African Art Stands is a non-governmental, non-profit organization created to assist African artists and artisans in achieving a productive livelihood as well as to promote African art that we think the world deserves to see. Here, we’ll keep you updated on our progress, share our discoveries, and provide illustrations, and share some of the stories of the people we meet along the way.