Out of Africa Gallery, Sitges, Spain 13 Apr 2019 - 26 May 2019
Larry Otoo, Colourfull market, 2018. 101cm H x 153cm. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy the artist.
The Ghanaian painter Larry Otoo likes to refer to himself as a “contemporary traditionalist”. Born in Accra, Ghana in 1956, his subject matter is inspired by the everyday activities of ordinary Ghanaians. His vibrant paintings in oil and acrylic capture the rhythm and beat of daily life. He paints, he says, “to record and preserve our traditions visually”.
Vivid spots of acrylic fill his large canvasses, their vibrant hues combining to form dazzling African scenes, scenes that Otoo says are impossible to truly replicate. “The scenes I paint, the markets, the crowds, you can never wholly capture them because they are always changing; you can never finish painting them, my aim can only be to capture the tempo” Larry explains. Otoo’s paintings are on the surface a disordered mass of colourful slices and shapes, impactful and vibrant. It’s only when the viewer steps back that they are hit with the energy of a market, the sacred unity of a mass prayer, a townscape of roofs illuminated to a vivid red by the hot African sun.
His subjects include traditional groups of drummers, dancers, market crowds… his interest in music is vital to his work. Otoo’s figures, occasionally almost cartoon-like, transform into abstract rhythms, invoking jazz.
Larry Otoo is widely collected and has an international following. He has held exhibitions in Africa (Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria), Europe (The Netherlands, Great-Britain, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Denmark and Spain), Canada, the USA and Japan. His paintings decorate Ghana’s presidential suite and Ghana’s chancery in Washington, D.C.