Juxtapoz Magazine – Amoako Boafo “Soul of Black Folks” @ Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston

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Amoako Boafo: Soul of Black Individuals is the debut museum solo exhibition for Ghanaian artist Amoako Boafo, one of the most influential artistic voices of his era. Doing work mainly in portraiture, Boafo is recognised for his vivid use of coloration and thick, improvisational gestures created by his finger painting strategy. His get the job done is actively centered on Black subjectivity, Black joy, the Black gaze, and radical care as a foundational framework for his inventive observe.

 

Soul of Black Folks presents above thirty functions made amongst 2016–2022, together with a site-unique wall painting manufactured precisely for CAMH. The subjects highlighted in Boafo’s paintings represent the nuance and complexities of Black existence globally. Conditions these as COVID-19, the frequent resistance in opposition to systemic oppression, the active combating of Anti-Black rhetoric, and the commodification of Black bodies in the media are some of the fears that heighten this exhibition’s urgency and relevance.

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The exhibition’s title is influenced by the seminal ethnographic examine of Black existence behind the veil of race by sociologist and Pan-Africanist W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folks. Du Bois, who is buried near Osu—a neighborhood in Accra, Ghana around in which Boafo grew up—conducted analysis that resulted in the coining of the phrase “double-consciousness,” which evokes the feeling of Black men and women regularly possessing to glimpse at themselves by way of the eyes of many others. Du Bois’s textual content serves as an invitation to believe deeply about Boafo’s inventive follow and how it problems an “othered” gaze about the Black figure.

The performs highlighted in Soul of Black Folks center the viewers’ gaze on the presence of Boafo’s topics, who symbolize all walks of Black existence. He vividly and attentively leverages his paintings as a discussion board to articulate the connectivity and cultural overlap of existence in just the Black diaspora. Despite the physical and psychological friction of Boafo’s mark-making, his painted subjects appear confident and steadfast. Boafo’s paintings are deeply private and intimately linked to his knowledge as a Ghanaian artist residing and working amongst Vienna and Accra. His operates provide as signifies of self-preservation—a celebration of his identification, Black people today, and Blackness. A lot more than mere portraits, they are illustrations or photos manufactured to assert the dignity and importance of Black men and women.

Amoako Boafo: Soul of Black Individuals is organized and offered in partnership by the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco and Modern day Arts Museum Houston. The exhibition is curated by Larry Ossei-Mensah.



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