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Born in Accra, Ghana, and now based in Vienna, Boafo is known for his gestural portraits that celebrate his own identity and blackness, as well creating a new lens through which his audience can view his subjects, offering new ideas on both blackness and traditional gender norms.
Whitewall caught up with the artist to hear more about his presentation at the fair and how he challenges stereotypes in his work.
WHITEWALL: What can we expect to see in your solo presentation at Art Basel Miami Beach?
AMOAKO BOAFO: You can expect to see large-scale and never before seen works. These new portraits are strong, both individually and collectively, the figures gaze is the focal point, as they stare back at the viewer. I have accentuated the figures by layering the skin tones, while isolated on monochromatic backgrounds. My fingers continue to act as the brushstroke, which are gestural, the contours of the bodies almost soften into abstraction. In these new works, I have introduced new technical elements I am eager to share at Mariane Ibrahim’s solo presentation at Art Basel Miami Beach.
WW: What was your starting point for the work on view?
AB: For the work on view, my intention was to form images that celebrate Black Portraiture. I wanted the figures to be perceived as independently strong, who define their own narrative and are able to validate themselves. The predominantly feminine figures stage a powerful political message. In my eyes, my female characters are queens.
WW: You’ve said that one of the main goals of your practice is to show new ways to approach blackness. Can you share more about this?
AB: Black figures have been stereotyped in the most undeserving way. Unfortunately, there is no way around this offensive mindset, which is why I chose to challenge by offering new ways of being and thinking. My approach is about universality and finding ways to celebrate individuality without negating collectiveness.
WW: How do you challenge notions of masculinity in your portraiture?
AB: Gender is not a gender in my art. Masculine and feminine energies are essential in my paintings.
WW: Also in Miami, you’ll be presenting work at the new Rubell Museum. Can you tell us about the work on view?
AB: I am honored and thrilled to be a part of the inaugural residency of the new Rubell Museum. The institution has been an immense agency to the careers of young artists.
It is also an honor to exhibit among the prestigious artists in the collection, and for the inaugural opening, alongside over 300 renowned artists.
I do not want to take all the excitement and act of discovery away. I hope the viewers will enjoy my works.