Accra’s love for art resonates with the intricate culture woven through the past of this ever-developing part of Africa. Currently, a few young and seeded contemporary artists based in this lively capital city of Ghana – the likes of Ablade Glover, Nana Anoff, Ibrahim Mahama, Serge Attukwei Clottey, Zohra Opoku, and co. – are acclaimed around the world with regards to the unique oeuvres each of them brings to the creative department.
Like their contemporaries doing well in several parts of Africa, artists from Accra get invited to some of the biggest art exhibition platforms, fairs and biennales to show their works. However, the few sedulous gallery managers and curators in Accra have contributed to the sparking of a renaissance in Accra that oscillates with the art enterprises in Lagos, Dakar or Johannesburg.
Mainly due to the fact that the modern generation of artists spring from formidable sources of creative philosophies using everyday materials selected to convey complex narratives in innovative forms, there’s been a unique and refreshing representation of Ghanaian art on the global scene, thereby ensuring a multi-faceted portrayal of a dynamic Africa.
One important aspect of an artist’s career is access to exhibition spaces to connect production to response. In Accra, aside from street art festivals, community residency programs and the Ghana National Museum for Science and Technology, there are a few important galleries which operate as the meeting point between Accra’s creative circles and enthusiasts or art lovers from the country and outside its borders.
It all balls down to the media, styles, tones and motifs. Examples are Ablade Glover’s traditional methods of painting using gripping visual narratives to display the daily lives of market women, commuters or a busy Ghanaian street and Ibrahim Mahama’s gargantuan knitted coal sacks covering monumental structures like the Ghana National Theatre to discuss labour, consumerism and the sociopolitical calendar.
These are 10 of our favourite art galleries in Ghana:
Nubuke is the artists’ favourite spot in Accra for admirers of authentic Ghanaian art. The road, right next to Mensvic Hotel in East Legon, leads to a stretch of land used for farming. Nubuke Foundation can be found at the end of the left turn, opposite the farming area. The gates open to the African symbol-clad building, and its interior has a maze of connected exhibition rooms, a screening room and a sizable compound with a manicured lawn, offering space to showcase and support the development of the visual arts and performance culture of Ghana.
Nubuke has over time built a network with other art and cultural institutions to provide a wider base for creative exchanges. Residencies and support of young curators, visual artists, architects, photographers, poets and designers at Nubuke keeps propelling the development of artistic practices in the country.
Currently the Nubuke Foundation space in Accra deals mainly in exhibitions and performance events, and collaborates with a poetry group called Ehalakasa for a monthly open mic called the Talk Party, aside the monthly Artists’ Concert for live music. Nubuke is also working on a project in Wa with the creative community, students and artists with textiles and clay. There’s also interactive design mentoring and ingenious application of materials and techniques.
ANO (pronunciation aεno) is an arts institution based in Osu, Accra. Though it was founded in 2002 by Ghanaian art historian, writer and filmmaker Nana Oforiatta-Ayim as a cultural research platform, it only got launched earlier this year at its physical address on Lokko Road. A space which used to be an old Alfa Romeo repair shop has now been turned into Accra’s hub with a rich gallery, library and a bookshop. ANO promises numerous collaborations, publications, films, exhibitions and events nationally and internationally. ANO can be found at 1 Lokko Rd, Osu, Accra, Ghana.
Nanoff Gallery is a space for intriguing sculptures made from old discarded automobile parts, bicycle wheels or even kitchen ware after they’ve had their shelf lives. Nana Anoff, an artist and owner of the space, explains that he got the inspiration for his dream work from his grandmother who always hoarded materials even after their first usability stages.
About his artistic technique, Nana Anoff explains: “One thing [that] is waste could be someone else’s raw material. I am inspired by Ghanaian women a lot because they make Ghana what it is, and that motivates my art.” Nanoff Gallery is located at 69 Osu Badu Street No. 12 Airport West Residential Area.
At the Kuenyehia space, you can see paintings, sculptures and illustrations made by young Ghanaian artists between the ages of 25 and 40. Kuenyehia also motivates practitioners of contemporary Ghanaian art with an annual art prize which is much keenly contested. Last year’s winner Bright Ackwerh emerged top of ten shortlisted artists with his work Tweaa Room: Confrontation. This year, Eric Gyamfi, Ama Diaka, Isaac Opoku, Sela Adjei, Priscilla Owusu Mensah, Theresa Ankomah, Samuel A. F. Ansong Kofi Jnr., Isaac Yeboah, Elsie Tachie-Menson and Andrew Torsu have made it to the short list with illustrations, oil paintings, photography and installations.
Usually comes with non-themed but very organized presentation of art pieces. The Ark Gallery is located at Shiyie Town on Dodowa Road, close to Adenta, after Madina, one of the most populous towns in Greater Accra Region. There’s vehicular traffic from Tetteh Quarshie to Adenta at peak times, around 4pm-6pm. A collection of abstract art, landscape painting, surrealism and street art make up The Art Gallery’s stock.
Construction company owner and collector with a “curatorial focus”, Marwan Zakhem, opened Gallery 1957 on March 5, 2016, with the Nana Oforiatta Ayim-directed My Mother’s Wardrobe. The exhibition had refreshing performances and an installation expo by artist Serge Attukwei Clottey; founder of Ghana’s GoLokal collective and Afrogallonism. The concept commented on consumption within modern Africa through the use of yellow gallon containers. Gallery 1957 has further presented installations, exhibitions and performances by top Ghanaian contemporary artists. Gallery 1957 can be found at Kempinski Hotel on the Ministries Gamel Abdul Nasser Avenue Ridge in Accra, Ghana.
The Art Without Borders gallery launched seven years ago, enabling an art piece display space for artifacts from various parts of West Africa. There’s a wide range of engaging art pieces for genuine art enthusiasts. The contemporary African art gallery showcases oils on canvas, crafts & sculptures in diverse materials: from bronze to bone, fibre-glass to stone, and wood. Next To Sobamba Beach Resort, Art Without Borders Gallery can be found in Kokrobite, Accra.
Tiga is owned by Lily Sefa-Boakye, and she manages the gallery alongside her partner, conceptual and visual artist Nicholas Kowalski, who has been painting for 34 years. Beside a display of Kowalski’s art, the interior walls have large oils or acrylics works by Larry Otoo. Also, Seth Clottey, a daily life storyteller, has his boundary-pushing art installed at the space, alongside works by a handful of established artists.
Frances Ademola’s The Loom is one of the oldest galleries in Accra, established in 1969, and is perfect for contemporary art lovers. There’s a quality selection of several types of paintings, beads, ceramics, copper wire and wood sculptures by Ghana’s foremost artists. The Loom is undoubtedly one of Ghana’s premier galleries with work by about 100 artists lined in the two-storey comfy space.
The Labadi Beach which links Teshie to Osu has a beautiful stretch where the three-storey Artists’ Alliance is situated. The exhibition space is one of the biggest in the country with content ranging from paintings, mixed media pieces, drums, wood and metal sculptures as well as installations. Colourful Ghanaian street life bursts out of the seams of big canvasses with inspiring flair depicting the trademark of legendary painter Ablade Glover. You can also find Paa Joe’s hand-painted fantasy coffins aside several artifacts sourced from African traditional settings.