Oscar Korbla Mawuli Awuku, an artist and cultural activist, has become known for his ability to tell stories of Africa through his unique kind of body art which he calls Anansinisim.
Currently studying Commercial Arts in Painting (HND) at Takoradi Techincal University (TTU), Awuku has always been fascinated with art and he knew, even at a young age, that art was going to be the field where he will build and establish his career.
According to Awuku, when he started body art, his aim was to use it as therapy for the elderly to make them feel young at heart.
“Initially when I started my experimentation with body arts I wanted to only use my art as a therapy for the elderly to create that atmosphere of a younger self,” and through that, he derived the name for his brand – Yonga Arts.
Explaining his form of art, Awuku indicated that what he paints is influenced by Ghanaian history, the design patterns of kente, and the popular Ghanaian folkloric character, Kweku Anase.
“My experimentation with body art has been largely informed by the historical and design decisions that have characterized the production of Ashanti and ewe kente cloth. This includes the weaving process where threads are thrown over and beneath others in a repetitive, rhythmic manner to form patterns and shapes in the overall design.”
“This rhythmic action draws my attention to the crafty yet mythical Ghanaian folkloric character: Kweku Anansi. Anansi is an Akan name given to the spider, and due to the spider’s similar work process, I derived my body of arts I call Anansinisim,” he explained.
He added: “I carefully fuse visual networking designs with historical Ghanaian Adinkra symbology to create personal traditional designs on the body to re-echo the knowledge, values and wisdom of our ancestors which we are gradually losing to contemporary audiences.”
As a women’s rights advocate, Awuku through his painting also tells tales of great African women. His work portrays the advocacy and empowerment of women in order for them to stand equally for leadership roles just like men do in society.
Awuku also loves to put on the African ritual mask when painting, which he sees as a way of showcasing and promoting the rich culture and heritage of Africa.
“I mostly put on the mask for performance and also it’s believed that the person that wears the ritual mask conceptually turns into the spirit represented by the mask itself. But basically, I just want people who see me in the mask to appreciate our aesthetics and not have negative misconceptions about them because they are part of our culture,” he said.
Awuku also revealed that he has collaborated with some Ghanaian personalities including Sarkodie, Becca, Moesha Buduong, R2Bess, Darkovibes, Bisa K’Dei, and Nigeria singer Davido.
“I worked with Becca and Sark on the song titled Nana, R2bees on the song Yawa… I’ve also worked with Twinsdontbeg, Bisa, Hajia 4Real, Davido and Darkovibes, Made In Ghana, Club Ghana on their 2019 bottle launch.”
However, body art is not the only form of art that Awuku is into. He is also into canvas painting, digital arts, sculpture and performance art.
As he approaches the end of his tertiary education, Awuku is looking forward to improving his art and eventually expand his ideas across the African continent and the Diaspora.
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