Art Exhibition by Gideon Appah.
August, 2019. Gallery 1957, Accra, Ghana.
I almost missed this solo exhibition by Gideon Appah primarily because I had the showing days mixed up. Luckily for me, I made it to the gallery on the last day. Arriving just before the closing time, my brisk walk to the venue had me secretly hoping that they hadn’t begun packing up and closing shop.
This mesmerising body of work takes viewers on a journey through the artist’s Ghanaian childhood; tainted with heavy spiritual undertones. Gideon deftly presents a unique world filled with colourful brush-strokes on canvases, old family photographs, and he also springs a big surprise.
Right in the centre of the gallery space, a large facade of a typical Ghanaian house was installed. This setting was that of a “compound house”, as it’s usually called here. There were displays of an 80’s-style television set and VCR, objects typically found in these homes.
Speaking during an Art Talk organised by The Studio Accra in Osu, a month after the exhibition, Appah confesses that the facade was created to show a peek into his childhood; growing up in Ghana in the mid-to-late 90’s where compound houses filled with different nuclear families was quite common.
Another striking element that forms a core part of Gideon’s work is his really bold usage of dark hues, which he refers to as ultra marine blue. According to him, the depth of the blues contribute to the spiritual vibe he was going for.
Living elements like a growing (and dying) plantain tree formed part of this exhibition, further enhancing the whole experience and essentially bringing the work to life. The themes highlighted by this body of work include nostalgia, spirituality, identity and “african romance” – hence “love letters” – as described by the artist. What’s more, the outré dream-like paintings leave a lot for the imagination of the viewer to run wild.