Writing Art History Since 2002

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The Ghanaian capital, Accra, is rapidly becoming the hub of good contemporary African art, rivalling places like Dakar, Lagos, and Marrakech.

Courtesy of the Nubuke Foundation

Among some of the well-known galleries and art houses with a global reach are ArtCapital, Gallery 1957, NUBUKE Foundation, Noldor Artist Residency, The Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art (SCCA), ANO/Institute of Arts and Knowledge, ADA/Contemporary Art Gallery, Kuenyehia, and Artist Alliance. The Chale Wote Street Art Festival, a premier annual art event and fair, attracts a huge global audience. 

Among the latest female Ghanaian painters gaining global attention and recognition is the artist Cecilia Lamptey-Botchway. Her exhibition, ‘Make We Dance’, is currently on view at the Nubuke Foundation and curated by Kwabena Agyare Yeboah, a scientist, poet, writer, and social historian. 

Cecilia Lamptey-Botchway is the current 2021-2022 Young Ghanaian Fellow (YGA) artist in residence at the Nubuke Foundation. Odile Tevie, Director and founding member of the Nubuke Foundation, says the YGA programme is a flagship project of the Foundation and “is a career development initiative designed to guide, mentor and train young artists to become confident and savvy within their field and to prepare them adequately for full time practice”

Curator, Kwabena Agyare Yeboah, writes that the exhibition, ‘Make We Dance’, “explores the idea of dance as a form of movement. In the show, various figures strike poses, swirling and dancing. These are snapshots of a longer version of events. We are invited, in a sense, to speculate the before and after lives of the painted moments. What was there before the being of the painting? The elements in these paintings bring together the artist’s different artistic strands.”  

Lantei Mills, a member of Variations, of the Ghana Visual Arts Association, describes the works in the exhibition as follows: “The amount of movement in the collection of paintings in this exhibition is remarkable. It is not often we’re able to effectively express dance in painting. The chances of the figures becoming stiff and awkward are easy. Well done, Lamptey-Botchway. Looking forward to the next show already.”

The US-based Artist, Jimmy James Greene, commenting on the exhibition, writes that the “Artist currently shinning in the spotlight” is Cecilia Lamptey-Botchway. 

Cecilia Lamptey-Botchway, Efua’s movement of gravity, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and the Nubuke Foundation.

The exhibition showcasing 13 works brings together the artist’s new works in experimentation with mopping wool as a new medium in her paintings. The artist, it appears, is developing a new aesthetic vocabulary with her creative use of mopping wool that may someday create a masterpiece from the African continent.

According to Cecilia Lamptey-Botchway, mopping wool was always seen as the sphere of domesticity dominated by African women. In using the wool, she subverts that logic and turns an instrument of domesticity into an object of women’s beauty and empowerment.  

An objective aptly captured in the curatorial statement to the exhibition that: “When the artist started using mopping wool, it was because she made a connection among the cleaning object, domesticity, and female-based chores.”

Images of women dominate the figurative paintings in the exhibition, perhaps underlying the artist’s concern about women as the foundation sources of power in African societies. Cecilia Lamptey-Botchway’s painting, Movement of Ruling Women, captures this concern of hers. And as the synopsis of the painting says: “When women rule, the world becomes a better place.” 

Cecilia Lamptey-Botchway, Movement of Ruling Women, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and the Nubuke Foundation.

However, this does not suggest that male figures are not included in the exhibition. “Lamptey­ Botchway was asked why she had now introduced men figures in her compositions. She responded that women cannot do it alone. It seems that the artist is using dance as a platform for conversations and partnerships,” says her Curator. 

 Cecilia Lamptey-Botchway, Movement of Vision, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and the Nubuke Foundation.

Out of the paintings in the exhibition, Movements of Meditation, appears to be the people’s favourite and undoubtedly was a Trove’s Artsy selection and among the first paintings to be sold on the exhibition’s opening day.

Cecilia Lamptey-Botchway, Movement of Meditation, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and the Nubuke Foundation.

Cecilia’s work and current exhibition could be considered alongside what is described “to be a Renaissance for modern and contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora, with artists from the continent gaining recognition regionally and globally.” 

“Cecilia Lamptey-Botchway is the real deal,” says the Accra-based Electrical Engineer, art collector and ace photographer Issac K. Neequaye in a comment.  

With this Art exhibition, says Cecilia Lamptey-Botchway, I make the case that movement is central and essential to all humans, and movement is what separates the living from the dead. Movements captured through dance forms invite the viewer to see and explore the life cycles of human existence. 

Through dance movements, I invite the viewers to experience how we celebrate joy, experience sadness, anger, and cry against injustice. I direct my viewers to see “movement as an art form that has the unique ability to develop the mind, body, and spirit all at once.” 

“I move, therefore I am” says Haruki Murakami.

The exhibition is on view from the 11th of June until the 31st of August 2022. For more information, please visit the Nubuke Foundation.

Nii F. Africanus Armah is a Ghanaian art collector and art historian based in New York City.

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