ADA Contemporary Art Gallery, Accra, Ghana 17 Nov 2022 - 15 Jan 2023
Foster Sakyiamah, Yellow Sunday School (Detail) 2022; Acrylic on canvas, 39.4 x 78.7 in. Image courtesy of the gallery
ADA Contemporary presents a solo exhibition, Lines Through Time, featuring a stunning new body of work by Noldor Residency Alumni, Foster Sakyiamah, born in 1983. This is a significant moment within Sakyiamah’s career as this will be recognised as the artist’s first solo exhibition in Accra, Ghana; the city which he has called home for nearly 36 years where he also attended the famous Ghanatta College of Art & Design.
In his vibrantly distinct palette and deep concentric patterns, Foster looks towards history in reimagining some of the most recognizable paintings throughout 20th century contemporary art history; from Gaugin’s The Seed of the Areoi to Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earing. This adopted sense of celebrating the feminine and multidimensional male gaze is a motif that continues within the artist’s practice.
Sakyiamah’s paintings are praised for their vivid depictions of the people and culture of Ghana. They are instantly recognizable for their vibrant colour palettes and predominance of curved linear patterns. Sakyiamah’s fascination in the work of Malian photographer Malick Sidibé and Ghanaian-British photographer James Barnor, who frequently dressed his subjects in patterned clothing and positioned them against highly patterned backdrops and floors, led to his fondness for patterns.
In Akosua As Desire  for example, the stunning composition indicative of Gaugin’s The Seed of the Areoi captures a scintillating figure of Ghanaian girl whose black body is passionately depicted by Sakyiamah in monochromatic red skin seated in the nude. Holding what appears to be a mango, the protagonist is placed on a table covered with cloth as though to be served to the viewer with a basket of succulent fruit in the foreground as blue contrasting mountainous flora linger in the background. In this sense, the strong sense of tones and vibrancy hues become sensory metaphors for independence, nurture, and femineity within his acrylic paintings.
In earlier years, he was originally exhibiting his works in a local kiosk in 2002 after his tenure at Ghanatta, the artist joined the esteemed Noldor Residency Program as an artist-in-residence in 2021 after the institution’s Selection Committee conducted a studio visit in late 2020. He has since had major international exhibitions in New York and Switzerland, and subsequently his work is now found in several institutional and private collections in Europe, including the Se Tinat Collection in Spain, Minotti Seoul Collection in Seoul and the Sir David Adjaye Private Collection in Accra and London.The complicated, whirling paintings that make up Foster’s collection of work are often grounded by a single colour with a variation in execution. The Ghanaian artist uses reds, blues, and modest women in wide-brimmed hats and thin lace gloves, as well as dancers performing in coordinated synchrony. The figures emerge through fields of pulsing, coiled lines that give the dynamic pieces character and vitality.
They are dressed in apparel that fades into the background. But his work has also ethnocentrically grounded print references to GTP, Ghana’s first indigenous textile branch launched in 1966 by Ghana’s first president – Dr Kwame Nkrumah. Embraced by many Ghanaian women [diaspora and local alike] in all walks of modern Afropolitan society, the allusions to Ghana Textile Print truly make Sakyiamah’s body of work both international and local compositions completely relatable. Ultimately whether its depicting Ghanaian women doing nothing elegantly in repose or purposefully presented within the context of high society, Sakyiamah’s work truly celebrates and seeks to uplift women within the lens of what he describes as empowering objectification.