Portraitures: Discoveries Through the Canvas Mirror—Framed Presents Annan Affotey and Baba Musah

Mixed Media by Baba Musah Swallah. Image courtesy of Framed Gallery

This spring, Framed Gallery extends its international reach, bringing works by two artists of Ghana, West Africa, to Cleveland—on view starting March 5.

Francis Annan Affotey

While the scenes are often familiar to the millions of Africans whose daily existence reveals the realities of contemporary life and culture, Francis Annan Affotey presents to the world the joys, and sometime secrets, of life in his native Ghana.

He reshapes these observations with modified techniques that recontextualize the European lineages from which his techniques have emerged. The landscape, the still life, and the portrait are just three of the modes Affotey engages. For Affotey, a woman feeding her family suggests pride, not inferiority. A child playing in a slum alludes to friendship and inventiveness, not hopelessness.

He works mainly with acrylic paint. Often pixelations, like confetti, seem to fall around his subject and obscure it. What might seem purely celebratory, given the brightly-colored palette, is actually a glimpse into what might be too often overlooked or unseen.

Affotey is a graduate of Accra’s Ghanatta College of Art and Design. He later joined the Revolution Art Organization and displayed his work in several exhibitions in Accra. In 2013, Annan helped found the African Young Artist Organization, which is dedicated to supporting African youth in the arts through programs and exhibitions.

Baba Musah

Baba Musah Swallah is a Ghanaian mixed media artist born and raised in the densely populated community of Nima, a largely Muslim community where people of different faiths live together harmoniously in the heart of Accra.

The origins of his artistic philosophies are his life experiences. The motivation behind his artwork is based partially on aesthetics; however, the message he attempts to convey is vital in keeping the integrity of each piece. A majority of his work contains a narrative, used to create awareness and expose ideas and conditions that would otherwise remain unknown. Further, issues conveyed in his artwork include those that influence daily life in Nima, in addition to those that speak to social conditions across Africa and the globe.

Currently, he creates paintings on repurposed wooden panels, and mixed media pieces consisting of recycled materials such as wine corks and African wax prints. The irregularity of the wood Musah uses has become an important aspect of the composition. Musah has presented at solo and group exhibitions in Washington, DC, New York, Ghana, and Côte d’lvoire.