Established in March 2016, Ghana’s Gallery 1957 is at the forefront of a growing interest in art from West Africa. One of Accra’s first contemporary art galleries, it aims to provide a platform for African artists with an international reach. The gallery participated for the second consecutive year in the fifth edition of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in Somerset House in London in October 2017, alongside first-time participant Lawrie Shabibi. It was there that co-director Asmaa Shabibi became acquainted with the gallery.
Serge Attukwei Clottey. Out of Conversation. 2017. Plastic, wires and oil paint. 170.18x180.34cm. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery 1957, Accra. Photo by Nii Odzenma
“Sharing our space with another gallery for a period of time is experimental,” said Shabibi in a statement. “It’s exciting for us and the local audience who will be presented with something fresh.” This first gallery “takeover” is the start of an initiative that Shabibi hopes will “expand into the whole Dubai gallery community inviting other international galleries into local spaces.”
Serge Attukwei Clottey. No feelings no pain. 2017. Charcoal, pastel on paper. 106.68x76.20cm. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery 1957, Accra. Photo by Nii Odzenma
For the takeover Gallery 1957 will present The Displaced, a solo exhibition of new works by Ghanaian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey. Featured will be a new series of pastel drawings on paper depicting disjointed faces and figures resembling the fragmented portrayals of Cubism – a movement that was greatly inspired by traditional African tribal sculpture. One might recall the non-generic art forms of Picasso, Braque and Matisse that experimented with abstract representations of the human figure – all of which were heavily influenced by African art. In Clottey’s work we see a resemblance of such forms, albeit through contemporary depiction. In these new works the artist introduces colour, marking a departure from his previous works made in charcoal.
Serge Attukwei Clottey. Violence is not a coincidence. 2017. Charcoal, pastel on paper. 121.92x106.68cm. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery 1957, Accra. Photo by Nii Odzenma
Also presented are Clottey’s wall-based sculptures made from the ubiquitous yellow gallon containers found throughout Ghana. Known as “Kufuour” gallons after John Kufuor, the second President of the Fourth Republic of Ghana, these yellow cans reference serious water shortages in Accra during Kufuour’s tenure. According to Clottey, they were brought to Ghana from Europe as cooking oil canisters and then reused to store petrol and water. Upon seeing the yellow cans throughout Ghana, the artist decided to use them as the basis for the artistic movement that he has termed Afrogallonism – one that addresses the topic of migration through an investigation into form and abstraction. In addition to these sculptures and drawings, Clottey will present The Displaced, a video installation enacting the story of his family through trade and migration.
For more information, visit Lawrieshabibi.com and Gallery1957.com