Art in Ghana is seeing the light of day with some contemporary artists like Dela Anyah, Serge Attukwei Clottey, Ibrahim Mahama, Comfort Arthur and Bright Ackwerh. We spent some time with one amazing contemporary artist and author Dela Anyah. The new wave of art in Ghana is a ginormous one with different elements been represented in the Art.
Dela Anyah touches on social issues and challenges we face as humans.
“They say a picture speaks a thousand words. Being a writer first, I like my art to capture the many words I want to say. It’s art for the times, touching on social issues or challenges we face as humans, with the goal of bringing healing to the viewers or awareness on the given topic.”
Dela Anyah took us through some elements used in his art. Upon further observations, we realized most of the artworks by the Artist uses similar elements like jute sacs and cut out headlines of some pressing social issues.
“Junk or discarded material. I am a hoarder I must admit. So funny enough when I began painting, I had tons of old “useless” materials and things that would otherwise be in the garage all around to use as source material. Some works feature school textbooks that are older than 10years. That should give you an idea.”
Dela Anyah took the extra mile to interview sex workers for his current works.
“The current works have mostly been inspired by interactions with others. Before I began painting my Abuse Series: I had had a couple of people open up to me about being abused. In 2013 as well, I took a trip down Lagos Avenue to a spot called Atemuda to interview some of the sex workers on the streets. All of these experiences severed as inspiration for my Abuse Series.”
When asked why he chose art, here’s what he had to say.
“I didn’t choose art, I can say art choose me. It’s a God-given gift. I didn’t sign up to an art school or attend any. I just received a free gift of paint brushes from a friend travelling out of the country. I tried my hands on creating a little painting, after a quick tutorial with an artist mentor; my family liked it and the rest is history”
It’s quite intriguing to know how food can inspire one’s work, guess the food that made it into the artwork of the Artist.
“I will say, Burger King. I have used their packaging in a lot of my new works. I love the brown paper and the texture of the papers that cover up the food. Can’t think of any drink or song that inspires me. I usually listen to music after painting to relax me, or when writing and don’t really tie it to my painting process.”
Every artist has a particular preparation and we were interested to know that of Dela Anyah.
Pray and plan, plan and pray. I learnt this from two senior artists I know who revealed to me how they had works planned in a sketchbook for years. In my book End of Abuse, I show some of the pre-sketches I created before the paintings.
Do the artist really live a lonely life?
It is to a degree, but I only say that because I am more introverted. Other creatives may differ. I like spending time alone to study, and see what God wants to me to do. But then I need to also be social since it through interactions with others that I can truly get a feel of the life people live every day and the burdens people carry: the pain, the hurts, struggles, the good, the bad and frustrations people go through form the stories in my works.
Every Artist has a dream project and this is Dela Anyah’s.
My dream project will possibly be to create a large scale work that will be used to mark an international day of sort that speaks on a social issue am tackling.
Jamestown really inspires the artist.
“Jamestown hands down. I love love this place. I feel like even the very air around the place carries so much inspiration. I can’t get enough of that place.”
Some parents really don’t like their children becoming artist fulltime. We all prolly have experienced this where our parents have interfered in our life choices.
“My mum was blown away immediately she saw my first painting and got me some canvas to paint works for her shop. That gave me all the time to experiment and work on my skill.”
We further asked how long he wanted to pursue the art career and he gave an interesting answer.
“Well, art is life lol…I was born to create so as long as God keeps inspiring me, I will keep creating.”
We tried to delve deep to find out any upcoming projects. But it looks like we’ve got to stay tuned then.
For that, you would have to follow me on social media to get the latest updates lol. I love the element of surprise so I can’t disclose anything now.
It is very important to always have a mentor to guide you through what you do. Dela Anyah definitely
Has a lot of people guiding him.
Three key people stand out: Isshaq Ismael. He is a walking art university and has guided me a lot. Whenever I leave his studio I leave with tons of information and inspiration.
He is also one of the kindest people I know and he appreciates the works of other artists without jealousy or a negative competitive mindset. Another is Mr Victor Butler, he is also another great person who has inspired me, whenever I visit his studio, he walks me through his process, inspiration and sometimes points me to new software and books that can help my craft.
Mr Victor Butler
He is also the one who gave me my first tutorial on how oil and acrylic paints work. He also gave me a free easel to begin working with. Lastly, I will say Ms Franka Maria Andoh; meeting her was one of the best things ever.
Ms Franca Maria Andoh
She has given me tons of books, and whenever I leave the Antique Lemonade Art Space after having a long talk with her I leave lighter and ready to work on something new. She was very instrumental in making my first solo exhibition come to life: it couldn’t have happened without her. She is a true inspiration and a mother from another grandmother.
We really enjoyed our time spent with Dela Anyah and we’ve got more gist for you in the coming days.
Photography of Artist and Artworks Courtesy Snapshot_gh.