Friday, 4 November 2011

OWUSU-ANKOMAH AND A TOUCH OF METAPHYSICS


Microcron-Kusum… Ghanaian artist’s painterly mission for safer earth
  By Tajudeen Sowole
 ONE of Ghana’s leading artists, Owusu-Ankomah, whose work, in the last two years, has been making inroad into the Nigerian art market, through auctions in Lagos, has explained the mystic themes of his solo art exhibition, Microcron-Kusum.

Just held at October Gallery, London, U.K., the artist’s theme is steeped in spirituality and metaphysics. 

Owusu-Ankomah’s Thinking the Microcron (acrylic on canvas, 2011)


In a chat via Internet, the artist stated: “As we see the stars, we see the galaxies; as we see the galaxies, we see the universe; as we see the universe, we see the universes; as we see the universes, we see the Mfuma, a milky-ball of light containing universe; as we see the Mfuma, we see a circle of Mfuma that becomes the Micron. As we see the Micron, we see a circle of Micron culminating into a circle of Microns that become the Microcron.  And it goes on and on, into infinity.”
  Based in Bremen, Germany, Owusu-Ankomah, who uses covert nudity as central figural subjects further explained his exploration of mysticism thus: “Systems of ultra-macroscopic entities, beginning from the microscopic to the macroscopic, on to the ultra-macroscopic.”
   Viewing his work through the prism of the auctions in Lagos, it appeared that his strength lies in symbolic matting of figure, either on a plain background or collage-like figures. However, Owusu-Ankomah’s brushing often populates the canvas with as many symbols as possible, from across the world.
   The artist also delves into his native Ghanaian culture, saying that Kusum is an Akan word, which means mystic and mysterious ritual: a holy and sacred place.” For example, Kusum adze, he explained, is a thing of religious, spiritual tradition and mystery. “As the ancient ancestors meet in a place of the gods, it is a most holy and sacred inner space — the heart. Consciousness.”
  This therefore suggests that his thoughts, after all, have a deeper link to a particular faith or religion. “None; my work encompasses all religions, all spiritual and mystic disciplines. My work in essence encapsulates universal truth and consciousness”. 

Kundum-2 by Owusu-Ankomah


  IN some of the works such as Microcron-Kusum (No 2) and Thinking the Microcron (acrylic on canvas, 2011), viewed via soft copies and the catalogue of the exhibition, the motifs or symbols seem to cut across cultures, particularly of African origin. In fact, there are some motifs indigenous to Nigeria. How familiar is the artist with other African cultures, outside his Ghanaian origin? 
  “You see, the point in my work is not the familiarisition with any particular culture on any continent, but as you say, cutting across cultures, bringing together symbols of the world to create a potent universal language. My work is about creating one world language, one voice in unison.”
 And when he argued that he is an artist who paints for humankind and just happens to come from Africa, he sounded like one of those artists in the Diaspora who often lay weak emphasis to their origin.
  Is this not a gradual process of how not to promote an artist’s African origin in Europe? “Not at all. My ambition and vision is (sic) expansive. I stand on the verge of the unknown in a world that stands on the precipice of a chasm ready to destroy itself in negligence, disregarding all warnings that the use of fossil fuels and atomic energy destroys earth biosphere, endangering its own existence. I have begun a gradual process in my work to establish a renewal of consciousness, to enable anyone who will open her or his mind and heart not to be just a representative of their particular region, country or continent, but of planet earth. I see myself not only as an artist that paints for humanity, but also an artist who, through his work, tries to bring all of humanity together as one. We are one. I am a universal artist, an ambassador to the universe.”
  OWUSU-ANKOMAH was born in Sekondi, Ghana in 1956, a year before independence from British colonial rule. He studied at Ghanatta College of Art in Accra before moving in 1986 to Bremen in Germany where he now lives and works.

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