Kwesi Botchway - 2020
The emerging contemporary artist Kwesi Botchway documents contemporary African culture through his stylized paintings which highlight the idea of beauty in relation to the Black experience. Color plays an important role in expressing one’s character, community, culture, and language. Botchway’s rendering of black skin incorporates purple hues, evoking connotations of royalty wealth, grandeur, mystery, magic, seduction, and wisdom.
While some of his subjects are inspired by people around him, others are born out of his imagination. The source of emotion is also inherent from the vivacious colors creating a connection between the viewer and the painting. Additionally, his subject matter depicts black people in everyday situations inspired by socio-political events around the world, with a strong desire to elevate a community of minorities. His latest creations focus on the Black Lives Matter movement.
Botchway attempts to rewrite the history of art giving way to African culture. He critiques the colonial history of portraiture, and the stereotypical depiction of the Black subject in scenes labor and slavery. He diverts by giving prominence, power, and individuality to his subjects, who take center stage.
The artist takes stylistic notes from 19th century French impressionism and other modes of academic painting. Some of his works are reminiscent of classical paintings such as Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring. In Green Fluffy Coat (2020) the subject strikes a resmblant pose as Vermeer’s masterpiece, though Botchway embellishes it in his own signature style. He plays with tropes of the European arts canon, reimagining existing art historical and political narratives.
Born in Accra, Ghana in 1994, Kwesi Botchway studied Art at the Ghanatta College of Art and Design before enrolling at the Academy of Visual Arts in Frankfurt, Germany. Combining realism and impressionism, he refers to his style as Afro-Impressionism. In January 2020, Botchway was invited to take part in the Gallery 1957 residency programme in Ghana resulting in his first solo exhibition titled Dark Purple is Everything Black curated by Katherine Finerty at the Ghana Gallery, followed by Becoming as Well as Being in Gallery 1957 London curated by Ekow Eshun. He had a great number of shows in Ghana and Europe, with three solo shows.
Among his passions, he has also developed a strong interest in photography and graphic designing. Kwesi Botchway is the Founder of WorldFaze Art Studio in Accra, an artist studio and residency space focusing on supporting young artists locally, opened in 2011.
He is currently collaborating with international galleries such as Gallery 1957, in Ghana and London, and Maruani Mercier Gallery in Belgium. He has been nominated for GUBA Awards USA Nominee as Influential Artist in 2019 and appeared in many renowned papers and magazines in 2021: Financial Times, Flash Art, The Art Newspaper, Vogue, Stylist, ArtNews. He has also had been mentioned in publications such as ‘African Artists From 1882 to Now’ (Phaidon, p.60, 2021) and had a featured magazine issue with Elephant (Issue 45, 2021).
His works are today part of important private and public collections locally and internationally.