Joseph Awuah-Darko officially opened the show ‘A Bed of Roses’, in Accra, Ghana. After a successful exhibition at Gallery 1957 in 2019 and a short break to focus on the development of his fellow artists through establishing the Noldor Artist Residency, Awuah-Darko has continued his practice creating a collection of abstract and figurative works consisting of eight life-size tapestries and acrylic paintings.
© Joseph Awuah-Darko
The artworks represent idiosyncratic visions of his eternal struggles with mental well-being and identity, while also referencing the complicated history of capitalism and system police. Often depicting moments of conflict or amorous harmony, Awuah-Darko pulls influences from African literature, Ashanti poetry and internalised cognitive dreams played back to himself. His work depicts symbols of spirituality – rendered in the dystopian beings he describes as Sentinels which famously reference the Akuaba fertility doll originating from Akan culture in Southern Ghana.
The artist uses interdisciplinary methods rooted in local poster design with works on canvas. In addition, Ghanaian basket weaving and European tapestry techniques are combined with found plastic to create the immersive tapestries. The use of plastic material is deliberate in acknowledgement of its complex history with the country. He also incorporated satin roses to create the figurative elements within the conceived large scale woven tapestries.
There are four paintings and four tapestries; The work Purslane War for example, which considers the crippling effects of mental health issues amongst people in black/African communities, engages atypical hues such as yellow, black and magenta to create this vibrant, intricately assembled tapestry actively exploring the height of internal conflict in a depicted tug-of-war.
One of the largest works achieved to scale by the artist yet is Bourbon Stance. The pastel blue woven tapestry with 6000 handmade brown satin flowers captures the artist’s early childhood memories of spending time in his grandmother’s vast garden. The therapeutic presence aided Joseph in his journey to combat his severe depression. His new found freedom and joy displaced by the over shadowing rose covered figure in a dancer’s stance.
The art pieces are on display for the first time at The Mix in Accra Ghana. In April 2023 part of this series will be on view at Mindy Solomon Gallery in Miami as part of a textile group exhibition before heading to Jac Forbes Gallery in Los Angeles.